Monday, October 18

Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void

Dark Tranquillity
We Are The Void


There has always been an air of nobility about Dark Tranquillity, as they have steadfastly stuck to their core-essence throughout their entire career whilst also experimenting with it from album-to-album; it is without a doubt that achieving this kind of feat is not easy, as typically bands either go too far or not far enough, though these Swedes have kept the equilibrium quite in-tact over the years. Keeping this in mind, We Are The Void is Dark Tranquillity through-and-through, however, as to be expected, it is also quite unlike anything else in their catalog thusfar. Projector has been, still is and, more than likely, shall always be my favorite Dark Tranquillity album - it's sublime, darkly and meticulous prowess ultimately re-defined melodic death metal whilst simultaneously going completely against the grain of what the genre was at the time - aye, it's not just an album, it's a work of art. This review is, needless to say, on Dark Tranquillity's 2010 effort however, though my stance on Projector is quite relevant when it comes to the appreciation I have harnessed for this particular effort, the band's ninth full-length altogether (amidst a plethora of other EPs and singles and such).

Shadow In Our Blood opens up the album quite promptly with an absolutely infectious bass/synth interplay that isn't too far off from being something you'd hear on an industrial record (if it weren't for Dark Tranquillity's masterful antics, anyway); the song's pace hastily quickens into a thrashing number, however, in vein of all of the band's modern classics (Final Resistence, Lost To Apathy, Focus Shift and so on) and remains just as infectious throughout its duration as it is in its intro. Aye, you've got it right, in just one song I was already helplessly hooked.

Before going further into anymore song-by-song analysis, let me make it clear that this is perhaps the band's darkest effort thusfar, with Projector being the only other contender. The early albums are unquestionably the band's most aggressive, though atmospherically they're almost fantastical and, at times, vaguely folkloric, ultimately keeping the sort of darkness presented here at a distance. Projector was unquestionably seeped in shades, though was rather mellow at its core and, afterward, the band experimented with catchy melodicism and certainly perfected it with Haven through Fiction, each respective album displaying a different element of this vast dynamic masterfully. We Are The Void, in turn, focuses its gaze towards the abyss and thus finds the band crafting atmospheres more bleak, anxious and frustrated than ever before - a turbulent album for turbulent times, undoubtedly.

The Fatalist, Her Silent Language and even Surface The Infinite are, to these ears, the catchiest and most immediate songs on the album, maybe even moreso than the opener, utilizing beautiful melodies and arrangements to expand upon their individual cores. Her Silent Language specifically finds Mikael Stanne's clean vocals at their melancholy heights and, for the record (though rather unrelated), I'd selfishly LOVE to hear the band do a totally mellow record where Mikael only utilizes his clean voice. :P He is certainly one of the most underrated clean singers out there, when he does decide to go down that route, anyway. Arkhangelsk and Iridium both really showcase the darkness I spoke of earlier, easily being two of the band's most dense and blackened offerings; needless to say, they're two of my personal highlights from the album, with Iridium being in my top-three favorite songs from the band already (... it's that brilliant). Overall, pretty much every song on the album, outside of the semi-title track I Am The Void, possess a rather progressive song structure that goes beyond the typical intro-verse-chorus-verse-chrous-break-chorus format, despite the song lengths being rather modest otherwise. The tracks herein may only be four or five minutes, yes, but their adept arrangements and compositions make them feel more like seven or eight minutes (in a strikingly good way, of course).

In essence, and from what I've already read around online, some listeners are disappointed with the direction of this album, as it's certainly not as immediate or catchy as Dark Tranquillity's past three albums, however, the genius here is undeniable, as far as I see it: here is a group of Swedish musicians yet-again reinventing themselves, writing-off another chapter within their impeccable saga whilst still staying true to themselves and what they've always been about ... if this isn't dedication and loyalty to a musical craft then I do not know what is, frankly. I do, of course, recommend this album to all Dark Tranquillity fans, new and old alike, as well as to anyone who is looking for powerful, melodic and somewhat aggressive music of the absolute highest order; staring into the void has never been this lovely, guaranteed. ;) Essential!

9.5 // 10

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Originally written for Belgium's Fueled Magazine.

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