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More 'Fiction', please - 97%

SilentShadow, May 19th, 2007

To those of you who were thinking or maybe even hoping melodic death metal/Gothenburg was on the edge of extinction - how wrong you were! The legendary Dark Tranquillity, pioneers of the above-mentioned genre, has with their latest effort once again proven that melo-death is perfectly alive and kicking, even though their journey throughout the years was tough. A great deal of fans feared that the band’s creativity and talent died together with ‘Projector’ in 1999, but refusing to give in the band continued along their experimental path all the way up to ‘Character’ (2005), which was proclaimed as one of the new masterpieces and milestones in the band’s history.

Luckily, ‘Fiction’ picks up just where ‘Character’ left us. The sound is carried by a pair of crunchy, down-tuned guitars and some extremely catchy riffs, which are being accompanied by Mikael Stanne’s distinct throat instrument, and one can be content with his effort. ‘Fiction’ is the first album since ‘Haven’, where Mikael dares to make use of his clean vocal, which this time actually blends perfectly well with the rest. There is one development one can thank the ‘Projector’ era for; and that is the new dimension it brought to Dark Tranquillity’s overall sound, namely the keyboards. But fortunately not the type, where the poor instrument undergoes rape and torture. No, it is being used to underline or add a haunting atmosphere, even a melancholic one at times. The drumming, although not as imaginative as one might wish for, completes the musical circle.

For me it all collide half-way through this piece of art; more precisely at ‘Inside the Particle Storm’, which can be seen as the epic track of the album. - Mellow, dark, but at the same time brutal in its beauty, it kicks off with slow guitar passage and quickly evolves into a more up-tempo, but sinister piece. The grandiose, melancholic atmosphere is recurring through the album. At the end it left me with an empty feeling inside, and when a band is capable of affecting me in that manner, they must have done something right.

The utter lyrical brilliance is also worth mentioning. I’m willing to go as far as to proclaim Dark Tranquillity as the masters of composing brutal, haunting and gloomy lyrics. The band treats themes like death and despair and is therefore quite of a party killer lyric-wise. Nevertheless is ‘Fiction’ a must-have of 2007. Listen to it on a rainy Sunday, or just when you are in the need of beautiful, catchy yet edgy musical ride with genuine quality to it.