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Focused As Hell - 50%

OzzyApu, September 1st, 2009

Projector showed us the new direction Dark Tranquillity wanted to take, but who knew they’d pretty much copy the same album over and over? Not a direct copy, but the same elements and style remains consistent since this album. Of all the albums, this is one of the ones that I hear talked about the least. For Dark Tranquillity fans, it’s nothing special like Damage Done, but that’s because they don’t really push beyond their limit. Yeah, they did that with the last album, whereas here they just sound much more focused and comfortable in playing the basics.

Stanne doesn’t perform any clean vocals except on “Emptier Still,” and they still remind me of Sean Bean for some reason. That Sheffield accent and all… anyway, the rest is marked with his signature grumpy growl. It’s a tad raspy but more deep and you can feel it come straight from his throat. They add to the monotony of the album, since every song (despite different tempos, melodies, riffs, and such) sounds very alike. Production is the biggest offender, since everything sounds so crisp, heavy, and clear. Bass gets loads of help; it’s grumbling can be heard unmistakably and contributes to making the album sound much heavier than it actually is.

The biggest swaying power comes from the keys, easily. Riffwise it’s a mournfully dark album, but nothing beyond classically dark. The keys are much more gimmicky than before, and this is where we hit our real problem. Some songs they keys dip in some atmosphere, but other times I just want to break them. Yes, they’re on every song, but their input depends on how much the main riffs slay. “Indifferent Suns,” “Haven,” and “The Same” all perform well with little / insignificant keyboard help because they don’t need the support. However, take some weaker / more mundane riffs like those in “The Wonders At Your Feet,” “Rundown,” and “At Loss For Words,” and now you’ve got the band trying to cover their tracks.

It’s with this whole fashion that you begin to think just how processed everything starts to sound. It’s not as processed as In Flames’ albums at the time, but damn it it’s still Gothenburg: shallow and catchy. I’m asking myself at this very moment why this is still in my library? What, because I think it’s good? What draws the line between good and bad? This? That can’t be, because the standard is so low compared. So fuck it, the guitars aren’t what I’d consider fantastic at all. They don’t follow the baroque kind of Gothenburg that the band was known for on The Gallery and The Mind’s I. It’s just been modernized; riffs with a lot of bark but no real bite. “Indifferent Suns” and its kind still kill because you can actually get into the song with its hefty lead and double bass gallop, but otherwise I can’t really hold on to this album any longer. Yeah by the way the drums really get the dishwashing job on this album, like most. Jivarp is a beast with tons of skill, and the sound of the drums is great without any hollow snares, toms, or padded double bass. I just can’t help but feel how unnoticed it goes, and the music lumps the entire thing together into one artificial collage.

Well, without a doubt this album and band still mutilate In Flames and At The Gates. It’s not even a joke, Dark Tranquillity is still one of the only central Gothenburg bands I listen to, but I’ll have to part with this album specifically. It’s a shame, but everything’s got to die sometime.