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Being one of the few bands that emerged intact from the 90’s Gothenburg scene, DT can be held up as a model for integrity. They continue to put out albums at a good pace and their material maintains the core elements of their sound mixed with just enough experimentation to keep it interesting.
Fiction, as expected, is made up of harmonized thrash riffs, melodic breaks, and dark ambient arrangements which create a sombre mood. If you’ve heard even one Dark Tranquillity album none of this will surprise you. Tracks like Blind at Heart and Empty Me could have gone on any of their past releases.
The added spice on Fiction lies mainly in some experimentation with power grooves, most notably the intro riffs to Icipher and Focus Shift. These are really memorable songs, most of all because DT are masters at fitting new things into their sound, making you feel like these are simply classic tracks you had never heard. Drummer Jivarp freshens up the album as well with some well-placed blast beats. This is great because in the past the band floundered somewhat in the mid-tempos.
Stanne’s vocals are solid and as always firmly rooted in the mid-range growl. His lyrics are the usual poetic fare, not really telling you anything specific but leaving you to contemplate while immersed in the aura of the band. A few clean passages are offered up on Misery’s Crown and The Mundane and the Magic, and while welcome, are less effective than those on the band’s B-side release Exposures. The female vocals on the latter mentioned track were a welcome surprise though, closing the album with a memorable and beautiful arrangement.
If you’re already a DT fan, you’ll love this album. If you’re not familiar and are looking for a slightly (emphasize that word) more melo and atmospheric release to counterpoint your more brutal leanings, then this is for you. Dark Tranquillity are musicians of the highest calibre, delivering quality music with no gimmicks, presented directly and honestly.