Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dark Tranquillity - Construct

Dark Tranquillity is a band that many consider to be one of the best and clearest representatives of the melodic death genre. When giving examples of some of the purest and biggest melodic death bands out there, Dark Tranquillity is almost always mentioned, along with Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Hypocrisy, Insomnium, At the Gates, Scar Symmetry, etc. Like most of the really big melodic death bands out there, Dark Tranquillity resides in the beautiful country of Sweden. Hell, the only band that I listed above that isn’t Swedish is Insomnium (they’re from Finland). Anyways, Sweden is the home country of Dark Tranquillity. I was introduced to these guys at a live performance. The funny thing was that I was at that show for the two opening bands, Mutiny Within and Threat Signal, and the local band, Blood and Thunder. Having never heard Dark Tranquillity before, I was absolutely hooked on them after hearing their set. Of course, this was after the release of the album that they were touring for, We are the Void. So this is the first piece of new material since that show, and I’ll tell you this, you have no need to worry about it not living up to expectations.

These guys were on a fairly consistent path with their sound. The past four albums that they’ve released have all sounded pretty much the same; which is kind of ironic because those are my favorite albums by them (and, of course, The Gallery). In We are the Void, their sound was just starting to enter the beginning stages of growing old, so it was the appropriate thing to do to change things up a bit this time around. But what the hell did they do to change things up? Well, don’t expect any changes as drastic as the ones In Flames made, but there are some new elements that are very noticeable that are introduced in this album. In Flames really pushed the walls of melodic death metal. Regardless of your opinion on their newer sound, it’s undeniable that In Flames pushed themselves completely. Dark Tranquillity haven’t pushed themselves nearly as much as In Flames, but there are other reviewers out there that are saying that Dark Tranquillity are on part three of their musical journey.

From their formation in the early 1990s up until the release of The Mind’s I, this is what we call “classic” Dark Tranquillity (in this case, I’ll call it part one). Then, starting with the release of Projector in 1999, the band started playing an entirely different style of melodic death; one that really took a lot of listeners by surprise. But, unlike other bands, Dark Tranquillity’s change in sound never really caused much of an uproar of negative feedback. Now, well over a decade later, the Swedish masters have introduced to us the beginning of part three of their musical journey. Just like Projector, Construct is a style of melodic death that we haven’t heard from these guys before. Even when the single off the album was released and that was all we had, it was obvious that Construct was something fresh and new. But what about construct IS new?

Well, Dark Tranquillity’s sound is more melodic than ever before. Yes, Damage Done and Fiction were pretty melodic albums, but Construct takes this term to a whole new level. There’s much less of the really thrashy drumming that appears in literally every other Dark Tranquillity record prior to this one. The drumming overall has taken on a different path, which is probably due to the drummer getting bored of playing the same patterns for the past 20 or so years. Also, there is a lot, and I mean A LOT more contrast between the verses and the choruses in each song. It gets to the point where there are no distorted guitars at all in the verses and all hell breaks loose in the choruses (i.e. the first song on the album).

But the biggest change that Dark Tranquillity’s sound has gone through has nothing to do with individual specifics. The biggest change that has been made is the complete outlook on the genre itself. When you look at “part two” of their journey, they obviously had a much more straightforward outlook on melodic death. They went fast, with the grain, and added in some keyboards. And it was fucking great and almost everybody loved it. The sound that Construct delivers goes a bit under the surface structure of the genre and explores some of its more mystical and softer areas. This is pretty much the same thing that Swallow the Sun has done throughout their career, except they’re much softer and slower than Dark Tranquillity.

Overall, Construct is amazing and can easily be considered one of Dark Tranquillity’s best releases. For some reason, I’m having a hard time enjoying the ugly album artwork. But nonetheless, the music is what matters and it’s a beautiful piece of work that I would recommend to all fans of melodic death and metal in general. To be honest, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start if you’ve never heard Dark Tranquillity before. I would give Construct a score of 18/20.