DARK TRANQUILLITY – a name that has been standing for a few things ever since its inception: quality, innovation, character. And the latter, “Character” also is the title of the brand new album of the Swedes and for the seventh time (if you only count full albums) they prove it. At first there was “Skydancer”, which combined the heaviness and intensity of Death Metal (also vocally) with technical and very traditional melodies and riffs in a back then unique way. Then followed the masterpiece “The Gallery”, where Mikael Stanne took over the vocals and up to now is a masterpiece of Melodic Death Metal, no ifs or buts.
“The Mind’s I“ then took up this sound and enriched it with even more details as it already had. Then “Projector”, where they suddenly ventured forth into Dark Wave-y regions and Mikael Stanne discovered his clean voice, an album of the extremes. “Haven”. Gone were the clean vocals, in came subtle electronic elements that took the sound one step further and were seamlessly incorporated. “Damage Done” then the step back that brought the band even further forward, taking the intensity of “The Gallery” and implementing the newly found influences of the past two albums.
And now with “Character“ they offer another album that once more strengthens the thesis that these Swedes are purely incapable of releasing an album that is even “only” good. At first DARK TRANQUILLITY surprise with an intensity and heaviness that completely stands against any sort of commercial orientation, at times with blastbeats, which always are accompanied by DARK TRANQUILLITY typical riffs and melodies and form a symbiosis that simply sweeps you off your feet.
Also still in the game are the typical, fat driving double-bass, as on “Out Of Nothing“ that remind me of “The Gallery“ times, with magnificent melodies and also very atmospheric parts, additionally Mikael Stanne once more proves that he most probably is the best vocalist of the whole Death Metal guild, he manages to put emotions and melodies into his harsh Death Metal voice, a true master of his trade!
The single “Lost To Apathy“ excellently combines heaviness and accessibility, without drifting into any modern/commercial regions, as a former Gothenburg legend unfortunately showcased, how you should not do it. And the heavy riffing of a “Dry Run“ in conjunction with an almost fragile sounding piano and incredible dynamics, here you can hear the full class of this band!
Everything fits again, visual side, production, song writing, execution, the best album of DARK TRANQUILLITY so far? Well, “The Gallery” still is something very special for me personally, but it’s damn close… (Online February 19, 2005)