Dark Tranquillity -- Fiction
I have decided to jump in on the reviewing thing, but no obligations to review every album or to do it in order or anything like that. I'll just put in my opinions on releases this year that I think deserve to be spoken about. This is definitely one of them.
Dark Tranquillity have always been a respected member of the Gothenberg/Melodic Death genre, and have not upset their early fans the way bands like In Flames have. For such a long time (almost 20 years now, I think!), this band has made album after album of strong melodic death metal. Admittedly, they are very stylistic and people who insist that all their albums sound the same are not [I]too[/I] wrong in saying so. Dark Tranquillity have pigeonholed a certain sound and have been honing it for quite some time, seemingly trying to make sure that what they do is the best at what they do, making slight changes until they reach perfection. Well, [I]Fiction[/I] is a step forward.
This is the follow-up to 2005's [I]Character[/I], and there are some noticeable differences between each album. [I]Fiction[/I] is more melodic(with significantly more guitar solos!) and slower than it's predecessor, but still manages to be just as heavy. The production is clearer and overall just better, and the It's also their first album since 1999's [I]Projector[/I] to feature Stanne doing clean vocals on two songs in addition to his trademark growls.
The lyrics are great as usual, standard Dark Tranquillity style. The song title is, as usual, usually sung in the last line of the chorus, but notably less so on this album than on the others. "Icipher", one of the better songs on the album has no mention of the song title (Thank God) and barely even a normal chorus. It has some of the most powerful lyrics on the album ("the thing that scares me most, is the fear I see in others, and the thing that really frightens me to the core, is when I see that fear in you")... trust me it sounds a lot better growled by Mikael Stanne with the galloping rhythm and powerful keyboards behind it. "Icipher" is one of the best tracks on the album.
Among the other songs, there are some that don't exactly shine compared to the rest of the album. "Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)" and "Empty Me" in particular seem to struggle to keep up with the rest of the album. But the rest of the songs represent almost perfect deliveries of melodic death metal with extremely fast pace and awesomely heavy riffage. Even the slower songs like "Inside the Particle Storm" (which is the slowest song on the album, yet sound incredibly menacing and heavy) and "Misery's Crown" (which is almost a ballad, and the first of two songs to feature Mikael Stanne's deep and powerful clean vocals) keep the album going excitedly. Even the lesser tracks are good enough and fit well with the flow of the album, that when listening to this, you don't really get the urge to skip around with the tracks.
The climax of the album is its closer "The Mundane In The Magic" which is one of the best closer's Dark Tranquillity have made in quite some time. It features beautiful piano parts and female vocals in the chorus and the same catchiness and heaviness you experience for the rest of the album. It's a more than fitting closer for a great melodic death metal album.
If you like old In Flames and are not familiar with Dark Tranquillity, than this might be a good place to start (Of course there's also the essential [I]The Gallery[/I]) or if youre semi-familiar with Dark Tranquillity's style and want to hear more. Dark Tranquillity have taken a step forward with their sound. Obviously, if you don't their sound to begin with, you probably wont like [I]Fiction[/I], but I do and so to me it is one of the best albums of 2007 so far.
This is probably the best Gothenburg sounding thing I've heard since Doomsday Machine, but still, that sound has been so over-saturated and bastardized that I can barely enjoy it anymore. For people who like melodic death metal though and wish In Flames tried to write another Whoracle, this is definitely a good album for you. Dark Tranquility deserve props though for keeping true to the sound they helped pioneer.
Simply put: one of the year's best metal albums
whether you like the sound or not (though how could you not?) the talent and creativity that's put out by this band is nothing short of admirable.
Lyrically and vocally, Stanne shines as the creative powerhouse of this band, displaying a somewhat broadened range of abilities on the tracks 'Misery's Crown' and 'The Mundane and The Magic', the only songs on the album to make use of his somewhat operatic clean vocals. Musically, the band has retained it's signature 'Gothenburg Sound', while stepping up somewhat in the soloing department. Overall, the album is a real work of art from an important band within the metal community. It's nice to see that while another pioneer of the Gothenburg Sound, In Flames, may be getting more famous while distancing themselves from their roots, at least Dark Tranquility keep the melodic death metal torch burning for at least a little while longer. I recommend this to fans of any melodic metal. Almost guaranteed that you will not be disappointed.
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