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I've been a mild fan of the Gothenburg scene since my introduction with At The Gates. Once I began to understand the sound of Gothenburg, I started to search for other bands that were built upon the same structure as At The Gates. My search for more Gothenburg bands led me to Dark Tranquillity, a band who many praised as the best Gothenburg band. I became interested with Dark Tranquillity, and that's when I heard of the "The Gallery." Many Dark Tranquillity fans called "The Gallery" the best album Dark Tranquillity has released, some predicted Dark Tranquillity would never top it, and some even went on to say it was the best Gothenburg album ever! I anxiously went to a CD store and bought "The Gallery," and after a few listens, I was kinda disappointed. "The Gallery" is a good album, but it's nowhere near the masterpiece it is said to be.
Before the recording of "The Gallery," former Dark Tranquillity vocalist Anders Fridén left the band for In Flames and guitarist Mikael Stanne was selected to perform vocals. After recording "Of Chaos And Eternal Night," it was clear Stanne was ready to record his first full length album as a singer. Stanne's vocals could not fit the melodic madness of Dark Tranquillity any better. Stanne commonly uses a harsh, yet different kind of death growl. Instead of the incredibly low vocals used by most death metal bands, Stanne uses a clearer kind of growl that is easier to understand and seems a bit lighter. He also uses a clear voice on "Punish My Heaven," which shows he can both sing and growl. His voice does get a bit annoying when he screams during the opening seconds of "The Dividing Line," but his vocals usually seem to be a great asset of "The Gallery."
The one thing that usually brings down a bunch of Gothenburg bands is the lack of variety in the music, and this is present on "The Gallery." When speaking on a musical level, this album has "Punish My Heaven," "Silence And The Firmament Withdrew," "Mine Is The Grandeur..." "...Of Melancholy Burning," the title track, and one song that sounds exactly identical to the rest of the album. The songs previously listed sound like something totally different then the rest of the album because of the riffs, vocals, and overall texture of the songs, but the rest of the album sounds like one melodic riff played for half an hour. The minimal variety in the music makes "The Gallery" get pretty old after a couple of listens.
One thing I really enjoy about "The Gallery" is the experimentation. The female vocals used on "Punish My Heaven," "...Of Melancholy Burning," and the title track help make these songs seem more interesting. The soft intro on the title track and "Lethe" help build up an emotional mood for the listener while "Mine Is The Grandeur..." is a swell instrumental orchestral breather that turns the album into a more progressive direction. There is little experimentation on "The Gallery," but it still adds a powerful punch to the album.
Even though "The Gallery" is a good album, it doesn't live up to all the hype it gets. I've grown more fond of the present day Dark Tranquillity rather then "The Gallery." Even though I like this album, it has to be one of the overrated albums I've ever heard. Sure it's a good album, but a masterpiece? I think not.