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Dark Tranquillity are in full stride now – with the fan and critical acclaim of Character it was up in the air on whether or not they would be able to match or overcome the success. Dark Tranquillity definitely proved that they are willing to even try to match but that they can.
Fiction is full of both melody and ferocity as only Dark Tranquillity can write. The music is written in a way that is catchy and heavy. When listening to Fiction, one will find themselves really getting hooked on the melodies (both guitars and keys) but head banging to riffs and drums.
The guitar work is faster and choppier as it was with Character but there are also songs with breakdowns that sound borderline Fear Factory (Terminus comes to mind). The leads and solos are well placed in the music – and very emotional. Emotional and heavy music has always been something that Dark Tranquillity could pull off – but this album feels both angry and sad at the same time – just by using their guitar tone. I found myself really getting into some of the speedier riffs. Although the melodic tones of Inside the Particle Storm and The Mundane and The Magic are amazingly catchy.
The drumming and bass work is well written although both have their faults. The bass is well done but is lost a lot of the time within the music (not to too much dismay) and is overridden by the drums and guitars. The beginning of the album started off with a killer bass line and drum part and I expected that to continue as a theme throughout the album – but it didn’t. The drumming is well done death drums without too many blast beats but without sounding outside of the death metal realm. The one complaint about the drums is production wise. Sometimes the snare drum sounds very hollow and it would pull me out of the music. It’s a nit-picky thing that one shouldn’t take too seriously.
Vocally, Mikael Stanne is still one of the most talented death vocalists in the scene. He sounds heartfelt in his vocals without losing that death edge. His voice is relatively understandable in the death metal world and borderlines thrash harshness at times. Two particular vocal moments caught me off-guard on Fiction. One was the return of Mikael’s singing (Misery’s Crown) and the inclusion of a female vocalist (The Mundane and The Magic). Both are good contrasts to the normally harsh vocals that Dark Tranquillity uses – and both do not falter the music in any way.
On a final note, this album has some of the best flow for an album that I have heard in a long time. Songs seem to flow into one another well but they don’t really overlap and meld. It’s a well constructed album without losing the individuality from track to track.
Dark Tranquillity has definitely matched the musicianship presented to us on Character. This album is not as harsh or angry (in general) but it definitely is matching to the glory that was Character.
Songs to check out: Nothing to No One, Terminus (Where Death is Almost Alive), Focus Shift.