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This is the first Dark Tranquility album I ever bought, and it's also one of the best metal albums I've ever bought. This is the definition of a fantastic album and it's definitely one of my favorites.
This entire album has a real forlorn feel to it; there's almost a sense of film-noir jazz about it, particularly in the opening seconds of Inside the Particle Storm. There's just a laid back feel to it that's hard to describe, as the music itself isn't laid back. It's just a sort of...cool, almost relaxed atmosphere throughout this whole album.
The music itself is chock full of sharp riffs, fantastic drumming (this album has some of my favorite drumming on it) terrific guitar leads and solos and some killer vocals courtesy of Mikael Stanne, delivered in his trademark higher-pitched rasp as opposed to a typical death metal growl. The lyrics are fantastic, with a very cold, futuristic vibe to them, and are one of mm favorite things about the album. The production is crystal clear and sharp and fits this album perfectly; kudos to the sound engineer who mixed this record.
The futuristic vibe of the lyrics is enhanced by occasional techno-ish keyboards and industrial-esque breakdowns, though both are used with such infrequency that impact rather than annoyance is what is felt. If there's one musical high point of the album though, it would be Icipher, which stands as one of the best metal songs I've ever heard. The breakdown that occurs mid-song is chilling and in my mind is not only a high point for this album but for the genre as a whole. Every song has its strengths though, from the pounding of Focus Shift to the dark noir-jazz feel of Into the Particle Storm to Blind at Heart with its hard industrial breakdowns. The songwriting here is absolutely top notch.
Fiction is, as I said above, one of my favorite metal albums. It's fast, heavy, well thought and and well written metal with a real forlorn feel to it, and I heartily recommend this to anyone who likes good heavy, aggressive but also laid back (if that makes any sense at all) Gothenburg Death Metal.