Dark Tranquillity // We Are the Void
Rating: 3.5/5.0 —Dark and brooding, very good but with some miscues
Label: Century Media
Websites: darktranquillity.com | myspace.com/dtofficial
Release Dates: EU: 01.03.2010 | US: 03.09.2010
Dark Tranquillity is a living legend. Don’t kid yourselves: they’re a band that has managed to maintain their credibility in a scene where many of the bands that have stayed around have lost that credibility (see: In Flames). They have consistently put out good records, even into their less progressive era, that excite their fanbase and and attract new fans with their catchy melodies, creative arrangements and the energy of their music. There are, however, two sides to Dark Tranquillity‘s music. The first is a fast, heavy melodic style of thrashy death metal that has long been associated with them and the Gothenburg death metal scene. The second, and the part that has long appealed to us personally, is the blackness and dark emotional content that borders on gothic metal. We Are the Void embodies both of these sides and may be the darkest album the band has produced since the much-maligned Projector.
On a structural level We are the Void is quite similar to Fiction. The production is thick and loud, with the drums moved into the higher, tinny range in order to facilitate hearing them. There is a certain lifelessness that’s been on both of these last two records that I don’t like very much. However, the tones on this record are better than on Fiction, even if they don’t live up to the production on Damage Done and Character. The tracks are generally more chuggy with the keyboard creeping in heavier than ever on this album, thickening up the choruses on nearly every track and being used to great effect in nearly every song. On top of that, the melodious, harmonized Iron Maiden meets Slayer kind of guitar work has lessened over the years and is even less visible on We Are the Void than on any previous record. Instead, this style has been replaced instead by breakdowns and stop time riffs like the introduction to “The Fatalist” or the main riff from “The Grand Accusation”. The songs are generally slower across the board and lacking the blast beats that were also more common on previous releases.
We Are the Void does not need the trappings of old Dark Tranquillity tracks to be good, however. Instead, where it differentiates itself is in the dark, almost gothic approach to the tracks that we haven’t heard from the band since Projector. I don’t think we’ve heard as much of Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals, a beautiful baritone tone that fits the darker, slower music very well, as much since Projector, which was unfortunately ripped to shreds by the band’s more elitist fans in the late 90s. But it is these dark, Moonspellesque tracks like “Her Silent Language”, “The Grandest Accusation” and “Iridium” where the band feels fresh, honest and where the real energy is to be found. The final crescendo of “Iridium” only being outdone by the dour, haunting “Arkhangelsk” which borders on Dimmu Borgir or Borknagar territory on the chorus with its use of keyboards and gothic dissonance.
Bringing it all together, We Are the Void is a record that starts out weak, but gets stronger and stronger by the end; reaching its emotional peak on the track “Iridium” and leaving the listener desirous of more. Unlike previous DT albums, which are always fun to listen to because the guitar work and the speedy pace, this record hooked us with its emotional content and feel, which unfortunately cheapened some of the faster tracks and made them feel out of place. This isn’t entirely the case, there are some fantastic faster and more technical parts as well, like the introduction to “In My Absense” and the bridge of “Her Silent Language”, that are more reminiscent of times gone by, but there is a sense that the band maybe just needs to back off that sound for a while to recharge those batteries and put out music that really shows off that inner void that Stanne is screaming about.