We Are The Void
5/1/2010 - Review by: Raising Iron
Well, the archaic architects of Gothenburg Death Metal designs continue to construct and sublimate their shrine to a sound they helped create; and yes, if anybody's going to continue with expansions that'd give Mrs. Winchester a race for her money (and guns!), I too would prefer it to be Dark Tranquillity.
Nigh on twenty years and our favorite melodic Swedes are back with their ninth and latest opus, We Are the Void. This album is a bit of a conundrum to be sure, like all those staircases and doors that often go nowhere in the Winchester home, so too is the feeling one gets from this latest effort. Saying so is as bizarre as the San Jose abode referenced, for the guys (as usual!) use all the right elements in all the right places, but somehow it falls a bit flat. Chalk it up to, "heard it all before", "it's been done to death", or a number of other clichés used to nail such issues to the ground, but when such clichés are apropos, what can you say?
This is in no way a bad release; the opening track, "Shadow In Our Blood" instantly seduces with its dark and caustic melodies slicing and dicing all in their path, and "At the Point of Ignition" offers some *gasp* traditional rock-like transitions, heavily augmented by the keys harmonizing Stanne's vocal lines. My personal favorite would be "Her Silent Language", offering it's gothic pastorals awash the same canvas as Moonspell; which is sure to be a gripe among hardcore fans of old, but these guys pull this style off so damn well when they enter into such territories I can't help but enjoy. "Arkhangelsk" is writhing and bitter with its trundling melodic ascensions; and likely to be the standout track among fans (as well as "I Am the Void").
We Are The Void is by no means a bad release, but more or less mediocre; lacking the lush dynamics of their last two or three outputs, and more often than not finding itself treading similar ground to Haven or Projector. Maybe it simply comes down to 2010 not being the place for such recollections, but regardless, it's likely most fans will at least "like" this release and consider it a worthy addition to their DT library (if this be you, add another half point!).
3/5/2010 - Review by: Eric Compton
I can remember reading about Dark Tranquillity in the old Chronicles Of Chaos webzine way back in the early 90s. At that time "The Gallery" was deemed the future of heavy metal, a pioneer that fused the melody of NWOBHM, the fury of Swedish death and the consuming doom death gothic overtones from England. While the band were direct descendants of At The Gates, I found the group much more dynamic and complex, eventually becoming the Dream Theater of the Gothenburg metal scene by 99's "Projector". I followed the band a few more years after that release but then found the act really hard to grasp, almost creating too much with their sound for a comfortable listen. In lieu of complexity I ventured into more commercial realms like In Flames and Soilwork for more peace of mind and instant audio gratification.
Ten years later I am now returning to Dark Tranquillity and their new release "We Are The Void". In preparation for the album I watched all five segments of the band's studio report on You Tube. It was interesting to finally get a glimpse of famed (and favorite) producer Tue Madsen and a small fraction of what exactly transpires under his watchful eye. The amount of detail, constructive criticism and technological prowess was amazing to watch as the band unleashed the creative process behind their new opus. I must say that I missed the group's last album, again with Madsen producing, but I'm really happy to be on board with this release as I feel it is the best I've heard them thus far.
"We Are The Void" is completely mesmerizing and consuming from start to finish. It took me a full week to completely digest the album as each song required a day of play to fully comprehend everything that was established. This album may have completely confused me in the 90s. Now that I am a thirty something metalhead with more patience and understanding this type of album just makes sense to me. The band creates different angles and directions with the song, sometimes clocking in with a verse-verse-chorus-verse-verse approach and at other times completely abstract in delivery. The album opener, "Shadow In Our Blood", is melodic death 101 backed by huge Gothic keyboards that remind me of Cradle Of Filth. Cuts like "In My Absence" and "The Fatalist" really have a modern feel, with tiny brush strokes of melody and quick rhythm punches, much like In Flames' "Come Clarity" record. The band mixes the album up really well, from Gothic clean vocals mainstaying "Her Silent Language" to the black-metal oriented "Arkhangelsk" (BraveWords compared that song to Dimmu Borgir and I agree). The album closes with the longest entry, "Iridium", a semi-ballad that is very ambient and detached. The album also has a couple of bonus tracks floating around as well as the previously mentioned studio report.
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