Dark Tranquillity

We Are The Void

Written by: BL on 01/03/2010 01:57:57

It goes without saying that if you know melodic death metal, you will have heard of (and should have listened to) Dark Tranquillity, a household name and one of the main pioneers for popularising the genre. Now entering their ninth studio album, I've been a keen observer of the band since their most excellent "Damage Done" release (though I had sporadically heard glimpses of older material). One of my favourite melodic death records last year was Insomnium's "Across The Dark", which similar to Dark Tranquility's music, emphasised sombre but powerful melodic progressions (and were damn successful). If there's one key aspect to Dark Tranquility I've always enjoyed that seperated them from the other key players in the field is their excellent piano/keyboard use.

And for the most part the tried and tested formula the band have perfected is still present here on "We Are The Void". Tue Madsen's excellent co-production work that was seen last time round on "Fiction" is now in full control this time round and as expected the album sounds fantastic sonically. The textures of the guitars, the drums, the raspy vocals, and the wonderful pianos and keyboard synths still resonate perfectly in harmony. The full sound that you take in is rich with layering and has a sparkling quality. This is in full effect all the way through to the end of the album that closes brilliantly, but more on that later.

As I mentioned, if you know Dark Tranquillity, this album will hold few surprises to you in terms of the songs themselves initially. It feels welcoming and quite easy to get into if you've enjoyed the last couple of releases in particular. I did notice after a while however that this album is a little darker atmospherically than ever before. Right at the start of the album you have "Shadow In Our Blood" which while on the surface, seems like any other song the band have done, actually shows some new more interesting dissonant melodies once you dive into it.

From then on the new trend creeps in and never sort of lets you go. The piano to my delight sounds even more haunting than before ("The Fatalist" being an excellent example, and a great track). And while the essence of Dark Tranquility to this point has always been a sense of darkness, their guitars have always been melodic enough to have this warm contradicting feeling (kind of a literal translation of their name in some ways). But here you never quite get that anymore. As I've mentioned already, the album closes on the chilling piano driven, superbly constructed "Iridium" which actually reminds me very much of Insomnium's last offering in more ways than one and is by a mile my favourite song on this record.

A minor problem came when I got to "In My Absence", which has this rather disappointing guitar intro that seems too simplistic and dumbed down, thankfully then the song then realises its mistake and picks up the pace. This did make me realise that the guitars and the drums on the whole by the end seemed a little more restrained in nature (I was so relieved though at the blast beats on "Surface The Infinite" - be it as brief as they were), and slightly slower (not that there aren't any fast parts at all) and more passable than exciting. I also struggled to recall much guitar play that impressed me enough to leave too much of a lasting thought other than parts of "At The Point Of Ignition", "Arkhangelsk" and parts from the songs I've mentioned already.

"We Are The Void" is still a must listen for any melodic death metal fan though just because at the end of the day it is still the Dark Tranquillity we all know and love and on the whole the album is great. Sure it may not be as impressive nor catchy technically as past endeavours, but the differences are worth checking out and the piano/ambient dominated songs really steal the show (if I haven't hammered that home enough already). Just be wary it takes a while to get going to see past the initially slower deceptive exterior.

8

Download: The Fatalist, At The Point Of Ignition, Arkhangelsk, Iridium
For the fans of: At The Gates, In Flames, Insomnium
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.03.2010
Century Media

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