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Second only to 'The Gallery' - 90%

Tea_and_Crumpets, May 7th, 2007

Wow, Dark Tranquillity has pulled it off again. After 2005's superb, come back of sorts 'Character', Dark Tranquillity have once again outdone themselves with 'Fiction', in my opinion second only to Dark Tranquillity's land mark album 'The Gallery'.

For starters Dark Tranquillity do not sound like a typical melo death band, and not like the ‘Gothenburg sound’ many melo death bands typically go for (ironically Dark Tranquillity pioneered the sound back when 'In Flames' albums weren't Nu Metal shitfests and the melo death genre was just emerging). The melodies are guitar based, with backing melody carried by the keyboards. Dual guitar riffs are present throughout, and the drumming is paced superbly. Unlike most Melodic death bands however, their sound is not melody focused, with the drum rhythm and pacing often being the driving force of the song. The keyboards, while not being in the background are not as central as bands like Bodom and Kalmah. This said Dark Tranquillity is still able to produce a brutal album, while being melodic. However compared to 'Character' which the album is most similar to in sound to, the album is somewhat slower and more keyboards based, the drums aren’t as blisteringly fast and as I said before, is less melody based. This change is carried out well, acting as a shift in sound rather than a radical new move.

The album kicks off with 'Nothing To No One' which starts out with a basic drum beat and some base, simple and catchy. The song slowly builds in both intensity and depth as the melody sets in and the drums start to get faster, first one guitar then another are added, each part simple, yet when all the parts are combined they create a rich tapestry of sound. Then Stanne kicks in with the vocals, he has a very unique sound, hard to describe accurately, his voice is raspy and dry and he refrains from screams or grunts, instead going for some throaty growling. The song is a good start to the album and sets the sound and tone for what’s to come.

Overall the album is consistent, there isn’t a bad songs amongst them, however as with any great album, there are of course stand out tracks. ‘Inside the Particle Storm’ stands out for being simply great, with a piano like opening building into a storm of sound. The albums last song ‘The Mundane and the Magic’ stands out as something a little different, featuring some clean female vocals to accompany Stanne’s own, giving a contrast in sound that is perhaps reflect in the songs name (but who’s voice is Mundane and who’s is magical remains unsaid), however it isn’t the chorus that really stands out on this sound for me but the verses, simply amazing and a brilliant finish to the album.

You should defiantly pick up ‘Fiction’ if you liked ‘Character’ or if you simply want some great new and different sound melo death to get into. The album is one of the best Dark Tranquillity have done, and it really is impressive to see how far they’ve come musically and as a band considering the small amount of line up changes and the amazing 17 years the band has been together. This album stands out as a monument to their commitment and proves that they can stand the test of time despite hiccups. Some things are better when their older and Dark Tranquillity is certainly one of those things.