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Another couple of years pass and another album is released by Dark Tranquillity. As usual, the quality’s there and it’s another good and consistent album. To be honest, this is quite similar to the last two but I like it more than those. Musically this is the usual post-Projector Dark Tranquillity. Well at least it’s similar to Character and Damage Done as I haven’t heard Haven yet. All three of these albums contain that slightly drier more modern feeling than the band’s first two efforts, but don’t think that this makes any of them weak.
Fiction continues with the now standard Dark Tranquillity formula of heavy melodic death metal with quite a good amount of keyboards thrown in the mix. These keyboards do an extremely good job of giving this album emotion. Half of it comes from them and the rest comes from Mikeal Stanne. The songs that shine particularly from this use of keyboards are Terminus, Icipher and Misery’s Crown. Icipher in particular has one of the most incredible…keyboard solos at the 2:30 mark. They make the album that much more emotive and powerful, and are used as to avoid sounding “cheesy” during the whole length. The band manages to blend keyboards and metal in a stunning way and as much as that might seem to piss off the last reviewer, I love it.
Mikeal Stanne continues with his usual vocals which just spew forth the lyrics in an incredibly powerful and emotional way. What pisses me off is that most people outside of the metal world don’t realize this, only focusing on the growls and thinking this is brutal or something. Cannibal Corpse and Kataklysm are brutal. This is melodic. Well…pop-minded retards, what are you going to do….Anyway, he’s great. Also, for the first time since Projector, he does clean vocals on one track. It’s Misery’s Crown and as you might imagine, it stands out. Both his growls and his clean singing help make this track as dramatic and as emotional as modern DT’s ever managed.
Niklasson and Sundin’s work on their guitars help make this album quite close to perfection, mixing very well with the keyboards and managing to create a unique atmosphere of melody and metal, the metal side being enhanced by Anders Jivarp’s drumming, which is considerably heavier than of the last few albums, most notably Projector but also Damage Done.
So this is another great Dark Tranquillity album, not marking any important changes but instead continuing on the road the band embarked on during these last few years. There are only two flaws here: Fiction lacks the organic feeling of The Gallery and Skydancer. We can’t really blame the band for evolving but this modern sound is simply inferior the original one. The other flaw, which also plagues the other albums, is that some tracks fail to really be noticed. Some are incredible and some are just there. But despite all this it’s an excellent album and another step in the right direction by the band. At least they’re managing not to sound overtly gay and mallcore like Soilwork or inconsistent like In Flames (whom I consider still very capable of putting out great music).