DARK TRANQUILLITY - A Fine And Shining Neo-Grind
by Martin Popoff
Sweden's Dark Tranquillity - no question - are quietly well regarded by studious fans of the extreme, as the last and finest band standing amongst a strong strain of post-death/neo-thrash/Scando-metalcore acts with roots back to Entombed and Grave and Unleashed. The Haunted have gotten strange, as have In Flames, both in different but equally eccentric and somewhat itchy ways (Soilwork remains to... return), leaving Dark Tranquillity to craft loud high art that upholds the integrity and standard of old, even if this large and thoughtful band of brothers have their own sly additions to make to the zeitgeist of this strong metal clump that is essentially a quarter century old by this point.
The band's latest record is called Fiction, and it's a swooping, careening collection of near anthems, keyboards adding quirk, but for the most part, full up with the rhythmic and gloriously groovy, the band's superlative classic forever - Damage Done - coming to mind in huge headbanging spades.
"Most of the 'new' elements are things we used before on the previous albums," begins co-guitarist and in-demand graphic designer Niklas Sundin, comparing Fiction to the band's last album, the somewhat oppressive and even claustrophobic Character from two years back. "For example, shared male and female vocals, we had already back on the Skydancer album. And I guess some of the more melodic or even Gothic styles - playing techniques and aesthetics - go back to the Haven and Projector days. I think Fiction is kind of a mix between all of the previous albums and all of the different phases of the band. And of course there are some fresher and newer elements, mainly in the sense of the electronics and the production. I think on Character, we kind of deliberately wanted to make an album that you should really listen to from the first until the last minute. No song really stood out too much. It was supposed to be a sort of conceptual album, in the sense that you listen to it right through. And with Fiction, we kind of decided from the start every song should be as different from the others as possible. So it's a much more diverse and varied album. Maybe we had a tendency on Character to try to put every different style and every different element in every song, rendering most of the tracks sounding a bit same-ish. I mean, it was the whole idea behind that album, and we achieved that, but I think Fiction is a bit more interesting to listen to. We didn't really cram every single song full of everything we could do - so there are more dynamics."
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