Sound — 8
I first heard this album back in late january. It was leaked on the net and I stumbled on it and I saved every song (I had pre-ordered it anyway). My first ever impression was man, it sucks. To me there wasn's a single unforgettable moment. But as I kept listening to it, it started to grow on me. Am not a big fan of black metal, and this album has many songs which are sort of black metal influenced. I think I was lookin at too much of a 'Fiction' sequel and that is where I went wrong. To me, this album is a start of a new era for Dark Tranquillity. They have managed to continue with their old sound and add new sounds to it (notably the black metal sounds in a couple of songs). Also, what I noticed the most was that it seemed alot of work was done by the keyboards. That said, you would also notice the number of solos included in the song. Though they are short and not really fast, such a number of solos were never included in other albums. I think, this album wasn't that aggressive as the precious albums. Though the sound was full and rich I think it missed the crunch the other songs on the previous albums had. So I'll start with a track-by-track critic of mine: 01. Shadow In Our Blood: I personally think this song was a perfect song for an opening song. But after the intro, I think it just lost the steam. I remember listening to the intro close to 30 times. But also, I realized it was only the intro which really grabbed my attention. With this opening song one can easily point out and figure that there's much more than melodic metal going on. There is a big black metal influence which you can hear by the fast changes in the guitar riffs. That said, it also has a solo. It's broken in to two parts and I didn't really like the first one. The second solo was somethin else. Something more soothing. Also, I think the intro was played way too many times, but that's fine because to me it was the only part which was good in the song. 02. Dream Oblivion: this was the first track I heard back in December when it was released on the band's MySpace. And I was terribly dissapointed by it. Since the album was releasing near my birthday, I was sure it was going to be an invaluable gift from my favorite band. This song had way tooo much keyboards in it and was easily the most weakest song. 03. The Fatalist: I really dug the intro. I think it was something great, with the guitars kicking in after the keyboards. To me, this was the first song which seemed like something by the great Dark Tranquillity. It did include a small lick/solo which was harmonised very very well. And it reminded me of the old DT. To me, this is where the album really started. 04. In My Abscence: another great song. The intro was something which I didn't really dig into. But the verse and the chorus was superb. I would have preferred Mikael's clean vocals on the part where the song slows down. Again, another solo in this song but nothing spectacular. I also think that the keyboards were perfect in this song. They complimented the guitars very well. 05. The Grandest Accusation: definitely makes it to my top 10 Dark Tranquillity songs. I remember the recording sessions from the making of 'We are the Void' and it seemed promising then. I also pretty much liked Jivarp's work on this song. The drums were amazing. But definitely, this song will just take you in and you'll feel lost in the song. Also, this is the first song where Mikael sings clean at some parts, and I pretty much liked that. The keyboards which followed it are sweet. Many people might say the guy is boasting or just giving a 10/10 for the song, but this song certainly deserves it. 06. At the Point of Ignition: way tooo much keyboards. But it doesn't mean the song is bad. Though the keyboards over shadow the guitars I think Mikael did a good job with his vocals. I really dug the solo but that's all I dug in this song I think. 07. Her Silent Language: this song very much reminds me of Misery's Crown. Only because of the verse (clean) and pre-chorus and chorus (growls) way. Also this song is pretty similar to In My Abscence (atleast to me). I'd give it just a 7/10 but this is definitely not a bad listen. 08. Arkhangelsk: at my first listen, the thought in my head was like, This sucks man. I never really liked black metal. And this is probably the song which has the most black metal influences. BUT, as we all know with Dark Tranquillity, they grow on you with every listen. And thats what happened to me. I never thought Black Metal and Melodic Death Metal could ever be merged. But Dark Tranquillity pulled it off very very well. The balance is perfect. 09. I am The Void: I didn't really like this song and I don't even know why. Even though everything's in place I just feel something is missing and I can't keep my finger on it. I really liked the solo and the pre-chorus of the song though. Also, the keyboards were probably the least prominent in this song. 10. Surface The Infinite: I think it was just a filler to be honest. Though I loved the chorus and the solo, I think the verses were no good at all. I don't know, I just never really dug into the song. Even after close to 2 months listening. 11. Iridium: this song definitely has something in it. It is soo depressing. And that's actually good. It sends you into this weird mode, and you get all depressed. IT's mostly clean vocals, in an opera-ish kinda voice for which Mikael is famous for. But what really holds you, is the sudden kick of distortion guitars and the growls of the chorus. This track, is without doubt, the best off the whole album. Definitely the perfect choice for an album closer. Also, I didn't mind the long same outro, it just fit with the song. 12. Star of Nothingness: this is the bonus track included on the Deluxe Edition which i have. An instrumental. I never caught why it was supposed to be recorded. It wasn't exactly amazing like the rest of Dark Tranquillity instrumentals (The very few they have), i always end up comparing it to the Mind's eye, because thats my favorite instrumental by them. Not a bad instrumental but just not upto the par, I'd say. 13. To Where Fires Cannot Feed: Bonus Track Definitely should have been on the album. This song, reminded me alot of Fiction. If this song was actually on the album, it would have definitely been the best song of the album. It has this gothic touch to it, the keyboards, the guitars everything fall into place like they did on The Grandest Accusation, with one major difference. Where as The Grandest Accustation sort of had the keyboards in the light, this song is definitely more guitar oriented. But it also has it's keyboard moments. Like the part just before the solo, like I said, this song SHOULD HAVE BEEN on the album. An amazing song.
Lyrics — 7
I got into Melodic Death through Children of Bodom, and back then I never paid attention to the vocals since Alexi isn't all that great. I switched to In Flames (new and old both) and I still never paid attention to the vocals, it was always the music I'd focus on. But with Dark Tranquillity it completely changed. It was like filling a gap between the the sound and the vocals. Mikael Stanne is without doubt one of the most talented vocalists, with his deep raspy growls and to a surprise Cradle of Filth-ish screams on the bonus song (To Where Fires Cannot Feed). Not only did it catch me by surprise but also, I started believing what is now a fact. Music reaches its highest point with Dark Tranquillity. The lyrics are not bad at all. With the deep meaning from the song Arkhangelsk and the end of times with the Song Iridium. To me, and I still cannot forget it, the favorite line off the whole album is 'No way to hold the burden of this life, alive'. Though the meaning is always the same, the way it's written is awed at.
Overall Impression — 9
Ofcourse, it's not the same as Fiction, Character or The Gallery. But I advise people to stop looking for those influences in this album, because its wasting time. Listen to it with an open mind and you'll discover a whole new side of Dark Tranquillity. Also, let's consider the fact that the melodic death metal giants are actually falling, with In Flames releasing the worst album ever last year (IMO), Children of Bodom releasing the so technical and yet not so melodic Blooddrunk. Dark Tranquillity never caught the flu from them and continue to make amazing songs. Again, this album will take some time to grow, but don't look for a sequel to Fiction or a followup to Character or even a return to The Gallery. This is not it, this is somethin different, something fresh. Best Songs : Iridium, The Grandest Accusation, To where the Fires cannot Feed. Weakest Songs : Surface the Infinite, Shadow in our blood.