Century Media Records – Sweden – 2010

From its very first note of music Dark Tranquillity suck you into their newest album with catchy hooks and hypnotic samples before delivering a knockout punch of melodic thrash metal flavored by Michael Stanne’s throaty rasps. Contrasting its edge-of-your-seat gruffness is the somber “Dream Oblivion” which just as easily gives way to the excellent “The Fatalist,” which has the distinction of being one of the album’s better songs. Long a seasoned melo-death nit responsible for molding the present generation of bands, a mere three songs into their latest and Dark Tranquillity seem to be treading familiar waters rather than bother with really cool stuff. It’s a sensible move from a band that has nothing left to prove and who have a niche all to themselves. However, it does pain the listener to endure such lackluster offerings as “The Grandest Accusation” and the snorefest that’s album closer “Iridium.”

Despite its ugly blemishes, owing to the band’s longevity and chops earned from sheer experience there remains a fair amount of delights inside “We Are The Void.” Chief among them is the absolute evil that’s “Arkhangelsk,” an epic mid-tempo affair loaded with black metal ambience and enough grimness to send icy shivers into the listener’s heart. It’s a choice cut, executed to perfection and able to transport your imagination to unfriendly realms. Other highlights include “Her Silent Language” and the thrashing “I Am the Void” where the band reach out to their earlier albums while keeping the lyrical domain fresh with original ideas and free of clichés. Unfortunately, those expecting an extreme album that incinerates from start to finish won’t get their fill and will likely shake their heads in disappointment while muttering, “what a gay band.”

Alright, Dark Tranquillity aren’t gay, they just have soft spots in them, y’know? This explains Martin Brandstrom’s elegant keyboard flourishes (he doesn’t overdo it, promise) and the band’s focus on hooks married to deft songwriting. The guitar tandem of Niklas Sundin-Martin Henriksson are passable at best while Mikael Stanne no longer shines as an extreme vocalist. It gets too familiar, that’s the problem. You’ve heard entire chunks of “We Are The Void” before and it’s gonna be hard for Dark Tranquillity to stay relevant in this year’s scene. A decent release though. Just decent.


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