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Why is this legendary? - 41%

Noktorn, March 10th, 2007

You have to realize that the derision that Gothenburg experiences is in no way unreasonable or senseless, and stuff like Dark Tranquillity's 'The Gallery' is precisely what causes such negative opinions of it. What's the typical Gothenburg stereotype: too much sugary melody, melodramaticism, dueling solos, tom fills, too much every damned thing without any restraint whatsoever. 'The Gallery' is the biggest walking stereotype of Gothenburg melodeath after 'Lunar Strain', and it's no wonder that I hold so much resentment towards it.

Everything is soloing. There are no 'riffs' on this album, just an endless series of more or less complicated soloing that taps out melodies of Sweet 'N' Low flavor that causes most people to jump for joy but me to retch. The guitar tone is sickeningly sweet and jangly, just like the production which retains a crystal clarity with almost zero personality. The name of the genre is completely illegitimate. There's no 'death' to be found here, and omitting that word seems to result in a much more logical label: melodic metal. So melodic that any trace of brutality or intensity is conspicuously absent.

A modicum of aggression does not death metal make, and it applies quite easily to the drums and vocals here. The former taps away with a predictable series of skank beats and tom fills, while the latter, despite 'growling' in a mildly inaccessible way, seems to be halfway pop crooning with an overly emotional delivery that doesn't quite mask the inherent sterility of the music on this release. Why the hell is this legendary? There's too much technicality and melody and not enough genuine songwriting. Dark Tranquillity on this album has a massive case of Opeth Syndrome; beautiful portions that have absolutely no connection to each other.

Enjoyable parts are few and far between. 'Edenspring' is probably the best, packing the most logical and quality riffing. 'Midway Through Infinity' is also enjoyable for similar reasons. However, on the exact opposite end you have stuff like 'Punish My Heaven' with its constant atonal noodling, or '...Of Melancholy Burning', with its horrifically warbling female vocals that add nothing but horror to proceedings, and not in a cool way. No matter how many times I listen to it, it stays just as underwhelming and boring play after play, offering nothing new, despite the 'depth' of the music here.

If you get the 'Deluxe Addition', you get to wander through an additional five cover songs that are truly hit or miss. The good: 'Lady In Black' and '22 Acacia Avenue', both of which maintain the intensity and beauty of the originals. The rest are rather average renditions that just play through the tabs without retaining any of the meaning.

I've never understood why 'The Gallery' is viewed as a classic of the Gothenburg scene. Granted, my position against the scene in general may give me a predisposition against it, but there are numerous examples of melodic death metal that is far better than the material on this album. While some who are infatuated with the genre may enjoy it, it's simply not my thing. Make of it what you will.