Sound — 6
Dark Tranquillity tend to deliver the goods, we've learnt that much over the years, but the greats don't come quite so often. However, the greats' came out in full force for 2007's Fiction' and they made a few appearances on Character' too, so there's good reason for a bit of optimism. In many ways, DT have been making the same record for the last decade they've been absolutely consistent in hitting the bull's-eye with their production, and their formula hasn't been tampered with in a major way since Haven'. They're far too good to become an if it ain't broke' band, though frankly not an awful lot is being fixed' on We Are The Void' anyway. The adoring reception of the last album's big hit, Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)', has clearly had an impact on Martin Henriksson and co, because its influence is felt on many tracks, where bouncy chugs and keyboard motifs break up the familiar bass-snare-bass-snare verse style. In fact, electronics fiddler Martin Brndstrm has probably taken up a more prominent role than ever before on this one. He has his share of the blame for the weaker parts of the album (Shadow In Our Blood' and The Fatalist' both have fairly pedestrian melodies) but Her Silent Language', by far the best song here, is made truly excellent by Brndstrm's subtle contributions. Head back through other highlights like Surface The Infinite' and The Grandest Accusation' and you'll find his stamp there too.
Lyrics — 8
Mikael Stanne's lyrics may well be even more recognisable than his band's particular strain of melodic death metal. His contributions have remained top-drawer even when he's been singing over less interesting tunes, and I daresay that there's been a specific improvement on this album: the clean vocals. Whilst his baritone flourishes are not much more common than they were on Fiction', he's dialled down the melodrama, resulting in a more fitting singing voice that feels less like a croon. Often mentioned when considering metal's gifts to lyricism over the years, Mikael is on good form yet again, finding new things to talk about but talking about them with the same tongue that he always has.
Overall Impression — 6
It would be difficult to see this band making an Unspoken King', and We Are The Void' certainly isn't bad. That said, for a band that recently hit the 20-year landmark (with a great creative mentality, might I add) and acquired some new blood in the form of bassist Daniel Antonsson, Dark Tranquillity have underwhelmed us all here. All the boxes are ticked but the music escapes your attention with relative ease - only a select few songs dig in fully. The album is easy to listen to, but difficult to truly engage with on the same level as this band's best.