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I prefer Stanne’s later growls; these mutilated growls are weak and reek of Mountain Dew. Not only that, but there’s hardly any power behind them at all. Even by The Gallery he’d get the scream / growl right, but here the production and his lack of power kill the vocals. The baroque style of melodic death adapts well with them, as it could if the vocals were deeper grunts and bellows. Regardless of how weak Stanne sounds, you can’t help but hear a sense of torment and anguish with each shrill of words. The best combination erupts on “Away, Delight, Away” where drums gallop and the lead slices harmoniously like a sword to a vine. Stanne lets loose everything his throat can muster between the delicate melodies intertwining with corrupted riffs – a proud representation of this exaggerated Gothenburg style.
For a release under twenty minutes, it’s a great teaser featuring the band in a transitioning period between the debut and sophomore albums. Production steps the game up, lending greater authority to the guitar tone to hammer away and claw at nature. The melodies do well treading lightly with classical music, but the riffs dispel all stoic emotions – “With Flaming Shades Of Fall” is indeed the heaviest this EP has to offer and can back that statement up. I’m not too surprised though at how little the bass contributes to the music; you get that low-end grumble most of the time, but the only track I recognize where its creativity converges is with the new rendition of “Alone.” It competes with the guitars and holds the weight of all basses as it pounds the living daylights out of the relaxing tone. I hear yawning clean vocals from Stanne, too, but they’re incredibly subdued and rare.
Jivarp has been behind the band’s kit since the beginning, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak once; makes me assume (poorly) that the guy’s a mute, but his drumming likely speaks louder than anything he’d ever say. Blast beats are comforting and the snare is brutally clean while cymbals are extra weak (bumble bees). He’ll go up and down tempos as if the guitars are trying to fuck with him, but he keeps up better than they can – he never talks, so he obviously doesn’t have a problem with it.
This EP, although nothing essential, does pack a punch that at least knocks out the debut. The “Alone” on this one slays the original “Alone” and none of these songs would appear on any other album (not counting the debut reissue), so it’s a sleeper you’ll have to download if you want to hear it. Again, nothing spectacular that you’ll take over any of the band’s better albums, but a nice little duckling nonetheless.
Everyone knows Dark Tranquillity, being one of the most famous Gothenburg melodeath bands out there, and after their debut album Skydancer came this little EP from Spinefarm. First time featuring the now long time veteran vocalist Mikael Stanne who is probably a much better vocalist than the equally famous Anders Friden. It’s quite an argument who’s the better melodeath vocalist in their prime, I’ve always been a fan of Friden in early Whoracle-era In Flames but here, Stanne dominates with Dark Tranquillity’s overall sound; which is slightly different than early In Flames, being more progressive almost and more overall melodic in terms of lead guitar work.
This early EP shows Stanne in his early days, where he had more of a death growl with a slight melodic rasp to it than nowadays where it’s purely a raspy knockoff of what Tomas Lindberg made popular; either way it fits perfectly on Of Chaos and Eternal Night. Featuring only 4 songs, Stanne makes himself known right from the get go with the best song on the album, the title track. It starts ominous and slow with an atmospheric type feeling then leads straight into an attack of melodeath reminding me almost of early At the Gates. This seems a lot more brutal and vicious than what you would find now on current Dark Tranquillity album. Featuring some melodic lead guitar work and some awesome riff work that seems almost black-ish in my opinion, but is obviously too melodic for more diverse than what you would normally find. The best part of this is the overall combination of Stanne’s rasp and vicious offering mixed with the lead guitar work that is continued throughout the faster songs like Away, Delight, Away. The drumming here is also decent as well as the bass part, what you should expect from a melodeath band, some fun double bass and always varied but sometimes lacking it seems. The bass is noticed only once really, towards the end of With the Flaming Shades of Fall where it has some decent fills.
Alone is a remake with Stanne from Skydancer and features a nice plodding, depressing atmosphere almost like a doomy melodeath song, which is a nice change of pace. Stanne IS better than Friden in this case. Having a depressing mood leaves you sorrowful and whatnot but still is an enjoyable song, nothing too amazing nor is it highly memorable; it’s just there and is enjoyable as a song when you listen to it, but not a song I’ll go back to listen to multiple times in a row. The production here isn’t too amazing and is semi weak in comparison to later and newer work; some instruments aren’t highlighted like they should be, and the vocals aren’t in the forefront is what it seems, but the guitars are quite a delight to listen to with the fancy lead work.
So this EP is a nice recording of early Dark Tranquillity and Mikael Stanne’s first work with the melodeath band, this is highly recommend for those hardcore Dark Tranquillity and Stanne fans, as well as those curious as to see how Stanne does better than Friden on Alone. Other than that, it’s just a decent offering for hardcore fans or collectors only. It's one of those recordings you listen to and enjoy it at the time, but not care to go back out of your way and listen to it again and again. The songs on here feature some overall fun moments but isn’t too highly memorable, I just wanted to see if Stanne tops Friden on the remake, and I think he did, now you decide.
With the 1993 debut Skydancer, Gothenburg death-metallers Dark Tranquillity showed they were competent musicians of the emerging style of melodic death metal, along with their contemporaries At the Gates. With the departure of vocalist Anders Friden to In Flames, the switch of guitarist Mikael Stanne to vocals, and the recruitment of new guitarist Fredrik Johansson, the classic lineup that would create the masterpiece The Gallery, the progressive The Mind's I, and experimental Projector, was formed.
Though stylistically not much different than Skydancer, this EP would end up being better in every way, and setting the foundation for the pretty much flawless The Gallery. Mikael Stanne is a far better and more powerful vocalist than the relatively weak and mediocre-at-best Friden (who would go on to destroy In Flames), and Johansson was a more than worthy replacement for him on guitar. Another noticeable thing about Of Chaos and Eternal Night is the improvement of Jivarp on drums. He no longer sounds as awkward and sloppy as he does at some points on Skydancer, executes his blast beats pretty well, and keeps the beat to mind boggling tempos.
The first track and title track, Of Chaos and Eternal Night, is a masterful blend of melody, aggression, and technicality. Most of the drumming is blast beats, and it is chock full of Gothenburg-style melodic leads, at a faster pace than In Flames would ever do. The vocals are quite powerful, as Stanne's death vocals always are, and near the end of the song it enters a series of mind-boggling tempo changes, which Jivarp astonishingly manages to keep a beat going to. Particularly cool is the brief transition into a relaxing 3/4 waltz-type beat, before exploding into the end of the song, and stopping abruptly. The second track, With The Flaming Shades Of Fall, moves at a much slower pace, and manages to be a very relaxing and melodic tune, still with Stanne's harsh vocals, and some nicely done spoken word near the end. Away, Delight, Away speeds it up again, not quite to the pace of the title track, and focuses more on melodic lead guitar work than strange progressive tempos. Stanne executes his spoken word rather well again, and the beautiful melodies carry the song along.
The final song, a remake of Skydancer's closing ballad Alone, is my favorite Dark Tranquillity song of all time. Written with beautiful counterpoint-style guitar work and deep, powerful lyrics, the only flaw of the original was the horrendous vocals by Anders Friden. Indeed, the only thing changed about this version is the vocals, and it is quite a difference. This song clearly illustrates the superiority of Stanne as a vocalist, and closes the EP well, as the previous had closed Skydancer.
Of Chaos and Eternal Night is a short EP with a long name, but it is not to be overlooked. Fans of The Gallery, or classic melodic death metal in general, should check this out. As the first release of the classic DT lineup, and the forging of the epic sound that would define The Gallery, it's quite a milestone.