For Fans Of
There are only a handful of bands out there that can claim membership to the iconic Gothenburg melodic death metal scene- and Dark Tranquillity are one of them. Indeed, this fertile music scene that originated in Sweden has given death metal some of its greats, including In Flames, At The Gates and Opeth. It’s an area that pioneered a certain heavy metal sound that is now hugely influential and has been imitated by legions of bands the world over. After 20 years of leading the pack, Dark Tranquillity are once more stepping up to deliver “We Are The Void”, their ninth studio album and one that follows a stream of successful releases from the band.
Even upon first listen to “We Are The Void”, it’s fair to say that Dark Tranquillity have their songwriting down to a fine art. Being at the forefront of the genre has allowed them to continually refine their sound into a unique blend of heavy metal that has the kind of infectious melodies and progressive elements to allow them to run circles around many of their musical peers. It’s a sound that has matured over years of being heavily engrossed in the Swedish melodic death metal scene and one that lends the band great respect and admiration within contemporary heavy metal culture.
Yet having this ability to craft their brand of melodic death metal with such ease may be one of the factors that hinders the overall impact of “We Are The Void”. Over the years Dark Tranquillity have proven that they can write truly captivating heavy metal, the kind where razor sharp guitar riffs and screamed choruses enter your thoughts and leave you frantically banging your head with joy for days at a time. Albums like “Fiction” and “Character” both had this quality about them in that they laid out bleak soundscapes for the listener that were both devastatingly heavy yet infectious and memorable.
“We Are The Void” strives to achieve the same accomplishments as its predecessors but ultimately falls shorts. All the band’s ingredients are in place- Mikael Stanne’s haunting lyrics, the ethereal keyboard meanderings and tight rhythm section- and while they do combine to shine during “Shadow in Our Blood”, “I Am The Void” and “The Fatalist” there are other times where their impact is less startling. It’s almost as though the band’s sense of urgency and pained emotion has worn off a little and they are content making the metal they have become renowned for, but which lacks the passion that would have made it more engaging.
Despite the weaker sections in “We Are The Void”, there are experimental elements that redeem these downfalls. “Arkhangelsk” and “Iridium” are two of the strongest songs on this album and actually have a predominant black metal influence that lifts the intensity of the album and breaks up the overall flow of “We Are the Void” nicely. The black metal influence seeps into the band’s repertoire of sounds effortlessly and is effective in that it shows their legitimate desire to push their sound in new directions.
It should also be noted that keyboardist Martin Brändström takes a more prominent role on this album and adds texture to the songs with his input of dark electronica and moody piano, which actually accentuates the heavier and more thrash inclined sections as well as the screaming during the choruses.
Dark Tranquillity’s long time fans and those who enjoy melodic death metal will dig this album, but even those who are the most committed to this band will no doubt sense that “We Are The Void” sounds like Dark Tranquillity ultimately playing it safe and holding a little back from what they could have potentially achieved.
1. Shadow In Our Blood
2. Dream Oblivion
3. The Fatalist
4. In My Absence
5. The Grandest Accusation
6. At The Point Of Ignition
7. Her Silent Language
9. I Am The Void
10. Surface The Infinite