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The Emptiness From Which I Fed - 64%

666Baphomet666, March 30th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Century Media Records (Digipak)

Folks, I bought this album the day it came out back in 2013 and being a long-time Dark Tranquillity fan I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. (with the exception of None Becoming, seriously fuck that song. It doesn’t carry the benevolence and depth of Mundane and The Magic, or the ever wonder muse of Iridium.) Well, six years after realizing my place as a functioning adult diaper handling loads of metaphorical shit, my perspective on this album has changed.

Dark Tranquillity is a band that has always provided a different sound on each of their albums they have released. For the past few releases since Character (2005), the band has been following a similar melodic melancholy sound but with only minor changes on each album. Character had electronic influences, Fiction utilized a gothic rock ambience with layered keyboards and a pinch of black metal (a-la Inside The Particle Storm) while We are the Void was simply a bastard carbon-cloned successor of Fiction, albeit a bit more darker in tone on some songs.

Construct is a pair-bond of both Fiction and We are the Void with a smidge of influence from Projector. It features a mixture of black metal influences, melodic death metal riffs, and a hybrid of gothic/arena rock atmosphere mixed all in one. The vocalist Mikael Stanne is in his top performance here showing off his guttural growls and thought provoking lyrics on the human ego, not to mention his clean vocals are excellent as well. Would you say this sounds interesting on paper? It does, but on Construct not every song is a real stand out with this formula, the majority of the tracks don’t have any moments where the music grabs your full attention but still provides an easy listen.

The black metal influence is there, sometimes it works, “For Broken Words” and sometimes it does not, “Uniformity”. The former features tremolo riffs to simulate the wall-of-sound effect while being driven by a heavy bass sound laden with groove-like riffing, top it off with Mikael Stanne growling his way through the dissonance, “Commit to sacrifice!!” It is very dynamic and interesting. The later mentioned shows again the wall-of-sound effect between the chorus, but has no depth, it is just there. If it were not for the clean singing this track would be a complete bore.

“What You Only Know” is the live staple featuring mostly clean singing by Mr. Stanne. Strong, energetic, invoking great emotion, the choir effect from the keyboards are placed with great effect especially after the post chorus where the drums pick up the tempo, “WHEN THE NIGHT IS LONG, AND THE WILL IS WEAK….” You cannot really hear the guitars in this one though, the keyboards really overpower this song.

That being said, the rest of the music is very predictable melodic death metal with a modern production with some half-thrash/groove riffs thrown in. Predictable being not hearing anything surprising that makes the listener think, “OH WOW!!! HOW!? WHAT!? NO WAY” Seriously, go listen to, “Endtime Hearts” on this album then go listen to, “Cornered” off of the Retrospect and Denial compilation. Endtime Hearts doesn’t stray from the melodic death metal formula, it just follows a pattern with the guitars strumming, then the keyboards come in to produce a fill for the chorus to take place, rinse and repeat. This is the formula for most of the album. Cornered does have a pattern as well, but each set of riffs would always be a surprise, especially when the chorus would come around where each musician was performing their own piece that seemed incoherent, but shared a bond in the outcome.

All said and done if you are a Dark Tranquillity fan I recommend giving this a spin, just don’t expect anything amazing. I purchased this album when it first came thinking this album was GREAT!!! Turns out I was so blinded by fandom that I couldn’t see the overall quality of the music. This is Haven 2.0, catchy but doesn’t really go anywhere.

Top Cuts:

  • For Broken Words
  • What Only You Know
  • Immemorial (USA Digipak Bonus Track)

To wither and crumble? - 55%

Alchameth, August 19th, 2014

“In the paleness of a less than life
From a corner watching old paint dry
Never once a break
Into the self again
An endeavour that will flat our fail
What maturity comes to end
Never one to face
… Another beat undone”

Taken out of context, this set of lyrics from “Not Built to last” out of “Haven” set the tone for what you might be listening when confronted with Dark Tranquillity’s new album, “Construct”. To keep on going in such a steady and successful career can be considered somewhat similar to a long-term relationship. A marriage of minds, to put it in a cornier way. However, every relationship reaches several pressure points which act as warnings that something just might not be working really well and needs to be rethought in order to avert a future crisis. This is it for these guys. A sign that the tried-and-true tricks are wearing old, the clock’s ticking and maybe, just maybe the post “Damage Done” sound has ran its course and they cannot realise it.

“Construct” represents something my dumb fan mind thought would never happen, and my realistic side only saw it coming somewhere in the next 5-10 years: Dark Tranquillity are finally going through the motions. Almost everything here sounds like father time got them by the balls and they had no choice but to recycle ideas that are done for, so all songs are made of obligatory DT staples, only devoid of deeper meaning and feeling rushed.

Oh, yes. There are the mandatory fast songs (although no straight up death metal is to be found for good measure) and not of them ever comes close to reaching the heights of “The New Build” or even “Terminus”. Sure, it’s all damn professional, but my god, give me something to bite here. No underlying concept to be appreciated by the MAWDURRN production, not a lot of energy left in Jivarp, very few attention-grabbing guitars riffs, only dry, calculated professionalism and technicality. Guys, we know you can play, but please, get our heartstrings going, for god’s sake.

The problem is, they seem incapable of working in tandem as a group of five good musicians, as the songs in which Jivarp can breathe feature dull guitar lines, and in the ripping, get-the–fuck-out-of-my-face tune (“Apathetic”), Brandstrom is nowhere to be heard. He, however, gets the spotlight in “None Becoming”... where the rest of the band, except for the drums, stagger behind him at a loss about what to do. Mikael chimes in, does his stuff, and leaves. Rinse, repeat.

Speaking of it, the sole element that is constantly aware of how good it is and unwilling to drop the ball is, fortunately, the vocalist. Thankfully Mikael recovered from the lacklustre performance from the previous album to yet again deliver the goods, both with his roars and by being one of the most amazing lyricists in metal today. Also, to notice how the man has evolved in his clean singing is marvellous. That is, hands down, the only comparison this album can draw to “Projector” and sometimes it sounds even better than the 1999 release as Stanne grows ever confident of the amazing tone he has.

Now let me tell you why the whole “Projector” thing is laughable, sad and a flat out lie at the same time. What that album lacked in raw intensity, it more than made up for it be being delightfully interesting. All songs were unexpected, strange little pieces of music; it was the sound of a band truly experimenting and HAVING A BLAST WITH IT. As you listened, you couldn’t help but cackle like a child as you experienced the same thing these dudes probably did while writing the songs, which was “We don’t know where the next 20 seconds will take us, but we sure as hell ain’t afraid, so come along!”

Brothersister, I double fucking dare you to find something in here that conjures up the same feeling within your gut. Five seconds in “Endtime Hearts” and “Weight of the end” and I knew what they were up to. If anything, “Construct” sounds like a gloomier and less shallow “Haven” and that’s it.

There are three songs here that accomplished the strangely difficult task of going somewhere, managing to insert just a modicum of intrigue and energy into this journey, and they are “Apathetic”, “State of Trust” and “The Silence in Between”. The first one’s a fast and dynamic piece that would have found a nice, cosy place to rest among the less bludgeoning songs in “Character”; the second shines with one of Mikael’s all-time best clean vocal performances leading up a rocking, emotional tune that hearkens to the most memorable moments in “Haven”, and the third sees Sundin and Henriksson waking up from their self-imposed slumber to give us an eclectic performance that is mostly infused with simple rock music, but also calls upon other influences to keep the experience diverse with fiery, short staccato bursts allied with DT’s recognisable creative use of string skipping and a great tremolo picked bridge.

However, the others like “The Science of Noise” and “Weight of the End” take turns suffering from bursts of ADHD as they fling in and out of intensity, sound like caffeinated, boring Katatonia b-sides (“For Broken Words”), drone on and on until being saved by a catchy chorus (“Uniformity”) or self-destruct into sheer nothingness like the bonus tracks. Seriously, these Swedes were never known for crafting amazing bonus songs, but what the hell is this? “Immemorial” feels like it desperately wants to explode into a sprawling, melodic monster like “The Lesser Faith” but the band keeps it leashed and fed with sleeping pills, as “Photon Dreams” gets a prize for being the most useless and uneventful song Dark Tranquillity has ever written in more than 20 years of career. No joking. “Archetype” at least had the decency of giving me a good laugh, but this? Please.

There’s no need for another “Damage Done”, but running a formula to the ground is the death of an inspired musician. Understand that, despite my rating, this is not a truly bad album, since I still firmly believe Dark Tranquillity is one of the few modern metal bands incapable of phoning it in by writing an analogue to “Soundtrack to Your Escape”. Had it been released by ANY other band (especially by groups that have been churning bad music for the past 15 years, like In Flames) I would’ve given it a solid 60. It’s well played and well sung, but reeks of fatigue and old ideas. Time has come to reinvent yourselves again, my friends.

Not as bad as some make it out to be. - 75%

mjollnir, August 5th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, 2CD, Century Media Records (Limited edition)

I think that Dark Tranquillity is one of the most consistent bands in metal. No, they may not have always released albums that appealed to all fans. No, they may not have always been as heavy as a melodic death metal band should be but their creativity should never be called into question. As a matter of fact, I think there are some albums by these Gothenburg originals that get way more shit than they deserve. Their tenth full length, Construct, is one of those albums. It's taken me a lot of listens to actually come to appreciate this album for what it is. There is some really good music and a killer atmosphere on this album and it's time people recognize it. It's not without flaws but it's not the abomination some make it out to be.

Some people think that the band was trying to create another Projector here but I don't see it that way. What I see is the perfect successor to We Are The Void, an album that I enjoyed. It didn't blow me away like Damage Done or Character but it was filled with an atmosphere that had me drawn to it for some reason. Don't get me wrong, Construct is not without its flaws as I feel the album opener, "For Broken Words," is a weak track that should not have opened the album. "The Silence of Noise" is a much better song where the keys provide melody and the riffs are pure Dark Tranquillity. Mikael Stanne's voice is as solid as it's ever been. The leads towards the end of the song are nice and melodic even if they don't provide anything else. "The Silence In Between" is another that has some decent riffing as well as some really melodic parts provided by the keyboards. The softer passage in the middle adds atmosphere adding another dimension to this album. "Apathetic" is a beast of a song that just kicks your ass. This song has some of the heaviest riffing the band has done in year as well as a godly solo.

I will admit that "What Only You Know" would not have been out of place on Projector or Haven. It's a good song with some wonderful melodies provided by the keys. Mikael Stanne's clean vocals are better than they were on any previous release. It appears that he has been working on his vocals because they were not flat in any place. I've never been a huge fan of his cleans but I can't deny that they work here. They tried their hand at it again on "State of Trust" but it did not work near as well as on "What You Only Know." The song is quite chaotic trying to go in too many places at once. Stanne sounds good but not enough to save the song. Then you have a song like "Endtime Hearts" that is a nice mix of the aggressive riffing and melodies. The chorus has a catchy melody that makes the song that much better. The keyboards in the background create a nice atmosphere that mixes well with the rest of the sounds on this song. There is a nice solo going on in this song making it that much better. "Weight of the End" is another song that has some nice riffing as well as those signature DT keys providing the melodies. This song could have been on Character. It's heavy in places and melodic in others but the mix of both has always worked for this band and it works on this song as well.

It's funny that this album is a culmination of everything that makes Dark Tranquillity the great band that they are but it takes some serious heat. I'm not afraid to admit the album's faults because there are a few. "None Becoming" is one of these moments. This is a song that just does nothing for me. It's slow and plodding. It could have been much more because the keys provide a nice atmosphere. However, I think the highlights I have mentioned here is enough to not disregard the album as a whole. Even the worst moments here are not horrible. I suggest that you get the limited edition 2 CD for "Immemorial" alone. Even though this is a slower song it's got some beautiful melodies, nice riffing and a melodic solo that just makes the song a nice addition as a bonus track. The second disc is a live disc and if you have ever heard this band live you know that it is a nice treat. Love them or hate them, they can pull it off in the live setting.

So here it is, I have made my case for this album. With all it's flaws and given the fact that they have moved away from the sound that a lot of DT fans have come to love, this album has some damn fine moments and should not be disregarded in any way. This is the direction the band seems to be going in right now. Who knows what the next album will bring. This band seems to reinvent itself every few albums so the sky's the limit for this band. But in the mean time, I'm not afraid to admit that I like this album. I suggest a few more listens as I have done. You may see that it can grow on you.


http://elitistmetalhead.blogspot.com/

Sets a high mark for what our minds can endure. - 50%

Diamhea, February 27th, 2014

Construct was built up as the second coming of the eclectic Projector prior to it's release, and as such my expectations were both measured and optimistic. While I found Fiction to be a more than worthy successor to the band's masterpiece Character, I admittedly hadn't kept up to date on the goings on within the Dark Tranquillity camp during the We are the Void debacle. So for me, this was akin to a fresh take on the band all over again.

To be blunt, I hear more of Fiction in this than Projector, as the atmosphere is perhaps more bleak and dissonant than ever. This is undoubtedly one of the group's darkest albums, but it has come at a high cost. Being a Gothenburg band at heart, Dark Tranquillity often lives and dies by the potency of their melodies. I'm not saying that band lacks cogency elsewhere, but most listeners undoubtedly look to Brändström's synths and the biting lick of the melodic riffs for the lion's share of the appeal. Construct lacks most of these melodies, coming off as watered down and diffused in it's delivery. The hazy, dense mix certainly doesn't help, as the weary surges of distortion hog the spotlight and force Stanne's still-primal intonation into the shadows. There are less keyboards than ever, and the long-tenured Jivarp is relegated to doing little other than standing in the background of promo shots.

Construct is just so criminally uneventful. This is still Dark Tranquillity, but the band comes off like they are trying to force a subtle genre shift without losing their main fan base. Most were content with giving the band a free pass regarding the average We are the Void, but the deception is clear this time around. The band tries to force the Projector tag onto the album by attempting another "UnDo Control" with "What Only You Know". The opening melodies are quite rousing, and Stanne's clean tone still sounds great. Even so, the band is quick to devolve into the "stock Dark Tranquillity riffing" that has plagued every album since Haven to one degree or another. In fact, I can count the number of spirited riffing passages on this album on one hand alone. The normally reliable Sundin and Henriksson come off as complete afterthoughts, with the heavier sections sullied with a faux-brutality that Dark Tranquillity had always been careful to avoid in the past.

Absolutely nothing on here is even fit to shine the shoes of the worst of Fiction, but "Endtime Hearts" is still a clear standout. It fights against the band's attempts at devolving into the wafting, ethereal drop-out passages that pockmark the rest of the album and gets away with minor damage. "Weight of the End" also grooves quite nicely, with some neck-jerking appeal that I don't recall experiencing since "Blind at Heart" or "Icipher". I have the limited edition of the album, featuring two bonus tracks. "Inmemorial" is actually a decent throwback to Damage Done and would have fit nicely in the album's procession proper. Conversely, "Photon Dreams" is a complete waste of time and should be ignored as such.

While it is without a doubt a massive disappointment on the whole, Construct does get better as it goes on. The inert one-two combo of "For Broken Word" and "The Silence of Noise" has likely turned a lot of potential listeners off before the rest of the album had a chance to stick. It is certainly a varied listen, and fans of the bands cryptic mid period near the waning years of Johansson's tenure might find something of value here. As a final note, the artwork is the most bland and unimaginative mockup Sundin has ever committed to the digital medium. Not the band's finest hour, and the worst since Haven.

Completely mindless (and riffless) - 40%

The_Ghoul, October 14th, 2013

Oh how far this band has come. It seems Dark Tranquillity have graced us with a slightly industrial take on their sound as of late in "Construct", which shouldn't surprise people given the keyboard's increasing presence on their past few albums, but they could have gone about this in an entirely less one-dimensional manner and nothing would have been lost, nor would it have been much more effort. That Dark Tranquillity chose a more mediocre direction should surprise no one. I think nearly every chord progression used on Construct can be traced to previous albums. I honestly did not think Dark Tranquillity could fill an album with more repetitive chugging than We Are The Void, but they have done that here.

In all honestly, Construct was hard to rate. It was well constructed (pardon the pun) so it made me want to rate it higher, and Stanne's clean vox sound better and silkier than ever. However, the nagging repetitiveness of the music makes listening to the whole album a chore, and the skip button should definitely be handy. In the usual Dark Tranquillity form of uniform song lengths is again at play here, except this time ALL the songs are in that 3-4 minute range, yet many feel like they drone on for eternity. That could be that many times, THE MAIN RIFFS CONSIST OF WHOLE NOTES. This is not doom metal, and honestly wouldn't work as doom metal either way, due to its complete lack of dynamics and pop-like atmosphere. Jeez, the more I am listening to this now the lower the rating goes. On one hand, there is more variety than We Are The Void, but on the other hand I keep finding that the last 2 minutes of each song is really unnecessary, and how unoriginal this album is when the rest of this bands discography is taken into context, riffwise.

In the end, I have to take into account how many ideas there are, riffwise, on Construct. And by how many ideas, I mean how many NEW ideas. It seems there are few on Construct. It is indeed well put together, and I do not pretend that the band and the producers labored intensely in the execution of this album's ideas. This would be one of those cases where the core concept was good, and the execution was pretty solid, but something just failed in the in between process. And that thing is solid songwriting. That is, the process of getting from "Uh, it sounds kinda like genre x and band y, with a hint of genre z and faster/slower" to a song ready to record and then the final product. Too many times mediocre ideas get repeated, and this is humorously captured in the song Apathetic, who's creative bankruptcy should strike someone as a song made by a band making fun of Dark Tranquillity, rather than the real thing. Both the opener, For Broken Words, and the next song, The Science of Noise, feature whole notes as most of their riffs. Being the opening songs, they are (arguably) the most aggressive. That should tell you where the rest of the album will take you.

In the end, no amount of overdubbing, studio wizardry, solid performances, flashy electronics, and Stanne's wonderful voice (woefully restrained to only a few songs unfortunately) can save a lack of songwriting, and Dark Tranquillity have been running on fumes it seems for quite some time. I really want to like this, since this is an industrial take on their newer sound with Stanne's clean singing, but the severe lack of new ideas, and the fact that this felt familiar from the first listen, just condemns this album to have very little replay value, so in the end I feel this low rating is completely justified.

Construct: More Darkness and Tranquillity - 80%

Opus_Oculto, August 4th, 2013

After releasing three albums very similar to each other, I did not expect any change in the sound of Dark Tranquillity. Even finding We Are The Void an album below the capacity and talent of the band, I believed the new album would follow the same line.

However, Construct presents a slower and quieter Dark Tranquillity, without blast beats, with very few fast tracks, making use like never before of Martin Brandstrom’s keyboard and Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals. In the essence, it follows the same idea of Projector, but with a tone a little more progressive and gothic-based. The main difference is that all the songs in Construct have the same rhythm and speed, none of them being pure ballad or pure heavy. The melodies are present almost all the time on all tracks, leaving little room for passages purely death, like it was common in the classics Damage Done and Character. Construct seems to be a blending of the sound Dark Tranquillity developed in its previous 9 albums.

Individually, we must highlight the brilliant work of Mikael Stanne and the pair of guitarists Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson. Stanne shows a versatility never seen before, leading masterfully his clean vocals amid harsh gutturals whose power and feeling demonstrate his full maturation as the frontman of the band (listen to Uniformity). The creativity of the melodies and the construction of the arrangements are the great advantage and difference of Construct, merit of his pair of guitarists that made Dark Tranquillity sound less aggressive than in the past albums, tending at a more melancholic and doomy rhythm, that reminds me quite the latest releases of Nevermore, Katatonia and Daylight Dies.

Construct is an album that needs to be heard more than once in order to be understood and many fans of the recent work of the band will not be satisfied with this new phase. This is an album for open minded listeners that can enjoy their old slow and more emotional works as Projector and Haven, and that do not concern only with the constant carnage of fast riffs and drums, characteristic of typical names like Mors Principium Est and Soilwork.

Then, why am I not giving Construct a higher score? Because the excess of melancholic and maybe gothic elements, alongside with the odd and slow structure of most of the songs tend to bore the listener after the second or third time you listen to it. So, if you want to fully appreciate the art within this album, you must not listen to it continuously. Take a break and put Construct to play again after two or three days.


www.opuspoculto.blogspot.com

Nicely Constructed - 90%

Melo4EverPaiva, July 11th, 2013

Here we are: we waited since "We Are The Void", released in the year of 2010, but it was worth the waiting. The album is nicely constructed, and Dark Tranquillity have showed us, as they have already showed lots of times, that they don't get lost in the middle of the fog: "We Are The Void" wasn't nicely accepted by some of the fans and critics, Daniel Antonsson is gone and there was a burden on their shoulders, because some people wanted them to return to their glorious days, when they released albums like "Skydancer" or "The Gallery". But, well, as it was said a few lines above, they don't easily get lost in the middle of the fog...

This album shows us some innovations and some returns to old habits. As usual, Dark Tranquillity tried to take a certain stylistic jump from "We Are The Void" to "Construct" because, quoting Mikael Stanne in an interview given by him to Loud! Magazine: "(...) when we started to deal with this new album, we had a bad taste in the mouth yet [Mikael is making a reference to the hard work and some frustration involving the making of "We Are The Void"] and we did not want to return to it". This is the explanation for the innovations that Dark Tranquillity made from "WATV" to this most recent album. One of these innovations is, for example, the new guitar riffs that we can listen in some songs. Beautiful melodies are created by some of this guitar riffs, not despising some of the guitar riffs used in other albums. We can also notice that in the album "Fiction" the keyboards were represented in a different way than they are in "Construct". A small change can also be heard in the beginning of "For Broken Words", with that sound that enters through our ears and stays there for a lot of time, and you don't have to listen to it many times. This sound can be heard in some songs, and it is one of the new things this album offers to the listeners.

The returns to the old habits had to exist: either DT returned to some old sounds or there would still be a lot of people asking why they didn't do it. And one of the things that they had to do, necessarily, was the using of clean vocals. We can realize that Stanne's clean vocals are strongly present in "Construct". This is, after all, sort of a gift Mikael has in his voice. Some of us may ask ourselves why he doesn't use his clean vocals more often, and Mikael says why in the interview given to Loud! Magazine: "I like to sing that way because it is off my comfort zone (...) that kind of challenges is always interesting. (...) But for now I like to use my clean vocals only as an extra "spice". Just like a keyboard or a guitar solo".

Now referring to the music as one solid and whole piece. As it was already said, there are awesome new guitar riffs but some are kept the same, with, of course, a few adjustments. Mikael has the same outstanding growls, fused with his magnificent clean vocals. The bass had to be performed by Martin Henriksson, but, still, he managed to do a great job. The keyboards create a perfect atmosphere, and they go really well along with the drums, the guitars, the bass and the vocals. Everything is well fused together. Great melodies, soothing moments, aggressive musics. We have a lot of great things in this album. An original sound, from my point of view.

Even though it is not, in my opinion, as good as "Fiction" (that I consider to be the best album in the most recent years of Dark Tranquillity), it is a great quality jump from the "We Are The Void". This band should totally be in a Metal Hall Of Fame and this album would really give its contribute to it.

The construction of a new era. - 96%

FictionalFlames, June 28th, 2013

To fully understand and appreciate Dark Tranquillity is to understand their evolution as a band. It is indisputable that the 'classic' era of Dark Tranquillity is from Skydancer to The Mind's, I. An era that is riddled with spectacular guitar melodies and riffs, acoustic passages, poetic lyrics, fierce vocals that have merit, drumming that is centered on innovation rather than being a background metronome (Lars Ulrich and Ringo style). There are too many positive things to say about Dark Tranquillity’s ‘classic’ era. However, they step out of their comfort zone and tackle a new monster in the second era of Dark Tranquillity with Projector and Haven. A monster that Construct echoes, and arguably amplifies. It’s true that this monster wasn’t perceived with open arms right off the bat. In fact, it had quite a bit of negative reactions from reviewers and fans alike - something Dark Tranquillity is not accustomed too – but it’s safe to say that Projector and Haven have been gaining quite a bit of respect over the years from previous past ills. Now it’s not uncommon to hear someone say that Projector is genius; an underrated classic. Afterwards we see Dark Tranquillity shed its skin just like a snake. Damage Done, Character, and Fiction stand side-by-side with the ‘classic’ era as “Part 2 – Modern Day Classics”.

In 2010, We Are The Void is and was the first of many leaps, rather than steps, into uncharted territory. By doing so, they released their most criticized album to date. However, We Are The Void, just like Projector, is strange and criticized heavily, but there is a good chance that it will be looked upon with positive opinions later on. Who knows? Life is always full of surprises. But it is important to look back on We Are The Void to fully understand the direction and ambition Dark Tranquillity is trying to grasp. That ambition and direction is hardly seen consistently in every other album prior to 2010 with the exception of Projector, and it’s atmosphere. It’s all about the atmosphere: dark, haunting, sporadic, ire filled, melancholic - if there’s anything else you can petition by all means fill it in - but that is the general direction they’ve been pursuing. Once listening and understanding the direction Dark Tranquillity is pursuing it becomes evident that Construct fits the album perfectly.

From the very start of Construct Dark Tranquillity unleashes the beast with full force on “For Broken Words”. This song sets up the precedent of what to expect from the rest of the album: melodic guitars (something to expect), slightly disturbing lyrics (matter of opinion, still cool though), progressive elements, and a solo section that focuses on emotions rather than shred (something Dark Tranquillity has always been none for), and most importantly an odd song structure. The follow up,”The Science of Noise”, plays it safe but maintains the quality of enjoyment with “classic modern day” elements [Dark Tranquility elements], which makes it look like a song that could have been seen in 2002-2007. Other songs that follow in the same footpath of “The Science of Noise” are “Endtime Hearts”, “The Silence In Between”, and “Apathetic”. However, “Apathetic” is a thrash-esque song that has a straightforward structure, and “Endtime Hearts” is just a flat out strange song… but it’s amazing though… It has everything: the rage from Stanne, the quasi-pop chorus, the haunting pre-chorus, and a spectacular solo.

Another interesting region that Construct showcases are the 3 songs that amplify and echo Projector: “State of Trust”, “Uniformity”, and “What Only You Know”. “What Only You Know” and “State of Trust” grasps the concept of inner struggles in oneself; however, both songs can be accused of being carbon copies of each other. Despite this, there is reason to detest that claim for each song is different and unique in tempo, mood, and atmosphere (melancholic), but the vocals are structured the same (verse = clean, chorus = harsh). As for “Uniformity”, it’s probably without a doubt the most difficult song to get into, mainly because of the its lethargic mood, repetitive guitar denouement, and the drum solo. It’s an odd song, but any listener should give it time to grow on oneself.

In the past few albums, Dark Tranquillity has always concluded with a dark, atmospheric song. In Construct they deliver with just that, and more. Just like “Uniformity”, “None Becoming” requires a great deal of listens to fully appreciate, that difficulty was also seen in We Are The Void’s “Iridium”, but not in Fiction’s “The Mundane And The Magic”. “None Becoming” isn’t exactly a spectacular song based off of the first listen and there’s nothing flashy about the song either. As I said before, one needs to give it time. In addition, Dark Tranquillity gives more to the listeners (who bothered with the bonus tracks). “Immemorial” could have easily taken the spot of “None Becoming” as being the denouement of the album. There is vast wonder as to why it wasn’t included on the album, for it stands as one of the strongest efforts on Construct. Lastly, there is “Photon Dreams”. A song that is structured with nothing but dissonance. It’s a shame actually, one can only wonder if they [the band members] could have expanded the song into some gem. Alas, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the dissonance limits the song writing process.

In conclusion, Construct has a great deal of things to offer. Whether it is in your face thrash (Apathetic), Gothic melancholy (State of Trust, What Only You Know), or even instant hits (The Science of Noise, Endtime Hearts); Construct has it all. Even if you may not be a fan of the entire album, there is however, at least one song everyone can enjoy. In addition, we should not ignore the progress of Dark Tranquillity’s pursuit. We Are The Void and Construct are very similar when it comes to the general direction of experimenting with atmosphere, however, Construct perfects what We Are the Void failed to accomplish despite the mash-up of the different types of songs (thrash, gothic). Construct is just the construction of a new era in Dark Tranquillity’s career, and it is nowhere as bleak as it was in 2010, rather it’s anticipated with hope and excitement.

As a side note: We Are The Void would’ve been better if they didn’t write so many songs and just focused on improving/lengthening the guitar leads along with other melodies.

Recommended Tracks:
The Science of Noise
Apathetic
Endtime Hearts
State of Trust
Immemorial
The Silence In Between

(Originally written for http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/57239/Dark-Tranquillity-Construct/ )

I'm sorry. Just no. - 10%

plebman, June 24th, 2013

Having given this review a bit of a passing in light of how many times I've listened to Dark Tranquillity's catalog, I decided to dip my toe into sub-par albums this time around.

With what Mikael had said prior to the release of this album ("While still bearing the unmistakable mark of the Dark Tranquillity, the record is probably our most different and diverse offering since 1999's Projector"), the anticipation built to such heights that I almost wept when I heard this release for the first time. And I suspect they'll have lost a fair part of the fan base with it as well, or at least those who have ONLY listened to this album.

Why does this album warrant such a low percentage? They seem incapable of finding a running sound on this album. What they were playing is the saving light for this release, but the lyrics written to the guitars simply do not work. In any way. At all. This is exemplified on Apathetic, for he (Mikael) has clearly found that the past few releases hadn't contained enough uses of the word 'apathetic' or 'apathy' and decided to simply devote an entire 30 seconds to simply repeating one or the other, but I forget which and I dare not delve back in to find out which.

On the surface, this release isn't so much of a different concept to Fiction, Damage Done, or Character in that it changed their entire target audience from The Gallery and The Minds I, but this time they appear to have entirely alienated everyone who previously could claim themselves a fan.

On previous releases, Within the Void aside, DT held something that not many other bands in circulation could until now: consistency. They put out a string of above-par albums that could all in their own right be considered classics to some extent or another, be it Misery Crown on Fiction, Treason Wall on Damage Done, or Fabric on Haven. But Construct? It literally has no tracks that will stick and for that I'll score it the 10% I have.

All this negativity aside, this release does expose typical DT fans to perhaps more of the music they DO enjoy if they can simply rid themselves of the dramatics of how the lyrics are laid on top, as the very much commonplace guitar work hasn't left, but simply has been placed to one side to enable Mikael to take the band in a different direction.

That's largely the only reason this release warranted the 10/100 I gave.

Good but not enough for DT - 66%

messengerofthegods, June 2nd, 2013

Being this a release of a genre-defining legendary band, a review for this requires a bit of background first. I've been a fan of Dark Tranquillity since the time when they released Fiction, and back then I loved that album at first listen, and I'm still not tired of any of its songs (maybe the chorus of Terminus is the exception...). After that, I naturally looked forward to their back catalogue, and although I found some of their albums harder to get into, I ended loving them too. Even Skydancer. And Haven. It's because of Dark Tranquillity that I started loving complex music with cryptic lyrics. Then eventually came out We Are The Void. It was certainly an album that had almost everything that a DT fan would love. It was complex, there was a lot of melodies (it was probably the album with more "dual guitar" melodies since The Gallery), it had thought-provoking lyrics and it was still very much agressive and dark. But somehow strangely a lot of fans (me included) were a bit disappointed with it. The reason was simple: they sounded less DT than ever. That album contained less of that magic that characterized their music, and it had more outer influences in their sound. So does it mean that it was a bad album? Of course not. It was still a very good DT album, it was just that the expectations were too high, especially after Fiction.

So, that said, I was very excited when I heard that they were going to release a new album. And I was worried too, because I heard that the new album was more diverse and simple (even that there were no riffs!). I was also worried because of the cover art with the new logo and because of an image in the teaser that showed what seemed to be a paper with the list of the "working titles" for the songs, and all were names of other bands (this picture is also available on their official webpage).

Anyways, after getting the limited edition and having listened to the whole thing more than 20 times in a week, I think that it's not one of their best recordings for sure. In part because of tracks like Uniformity, that have decent parts but somehow seem disharmonic when put together. Weight Of The End is a more classic track, but it's not my cup of tea, and it contains a little guitar melody that reminded me of In Flames (play the song at 0:50 to know what I mean). We also have here what seems Misery's Crown part III (Her Silent Language was part II), and it is called What Only You Know. It is cheesy as hell and here Stanne's clean vocals appear more processed than on previous albums. But the worst of all is, in my humble opinion, Endtime Hearts. It seems a song that Niklas Sundin composed after listening too much to Children of Bodom and/or Nother.

Now let's focus on the good part. Songs like The Science Of Noise proves that it's not true that there were no riffs on this album. Then we have atmospheric-in-a good-way tracks like None Becoming, and although I didn't like it the first listens because it seemed like a poorer version of Iridium from WATV, it's a really a harmonic track. Apathetic caught me off guard. It's a kind of song I would never expect from DT. I was expecting something in the vein of Lost To Apathy in part because of a review I read before the release. Seriously, I'm not believing reviews from magazines anymore. This song turned out to actually be thrash metal with Stanne's vocals, nothing melodic. I'm sure this is the "Kreator" song of the list with the working titles for the album. I have to mention that this has the first real solo on the album, but I've never cared much of solos. The song is not bad at all, it just feels kind of alien being Dark Tranquillity.

Now, let me analyze a bit deeper what I think is the best song here. The Silence In Between starts with piano notes over a drum and bass background and soon all instruments enters and the same piano melody is played in one guitar, while the other executes a more high-pitched, different but harmonic melody. The whole thing sounded familiar to me since the first time I listened to it until I realised that it reminded me of the way that some songs started in recent Amorphis albums. After the intro there is a typical Dark Tranquillity riff that leads to a catchy chorus, which by the way sounds very Amon Amarth-like. But that's forgivable since it fits very well with the rest of the song. Immediately after that comes a tremolo melody, and then everything is repeated before an echoed crystal guitar melody enters. Then the verse and chorus are repeated one last time and the song ends. Although the song structure is not very original and at times this track reminds of other bands, this is a very empowering melodic song as fans can expect from DT. Oh, and it feels short as hell.

About the two bonus tracks on the Deconstruct CD in the limited edition, I think Immemorial is very good. I don't know what were they thinking when they decided not to include it in the regular version. It starts with a strange passage of sinister keyboards for half a minute and then it turns into a song full of melodies that are among the best of the whole album. And Photon Dreams is a decent, dark instrumental.

The lyrics on this album are more or less the same as in previous ones. I just noticed one change, more in content than in form. It seems like Stanne has finally fallen into apathy, fatalism and nihilism. And this is quite strange considering the lyrics on song like Misery's Crown, Lost To Apathy or The Fatalist among others were criticising those attitudes. In fact, when I saw the title of the song Apathetic i thought it was one of these songs. But no, it actually says "Sometimes I feel what silence best describes, sometimes I feel apathetic to this life". Another example are those lines from the song For Broken Words: "Our words are broken, there is no value, there is no message, we give shelter to our false ideas", which remind me of those from The Fatalist, but in that song said like an accusation to another person: "Your thoughts are broken, your reasoning is flawed, defense is just an act, and lies are all you've got". Also, here in the chorus of Uniformity we have those: "We must come to terms, admit we are defeated, we must come to terms of bias and deception, stand out and be counted, in uniformity".

It's worth mentioning that despite what some have said, this album is not at all like Projector. In fact Stanne only sings (clean) in three songs here. As many as in We Are The Void. It's also worth mentioning that this album was mostly composed by keyboardist Brändström and lead guitarist Sundin, instead of guitarist and bassist (and until now main composer) Henriksson doing it. This explains the focus on more atmosphere and less riffs... which is not a bad thing at all, but seems that they didn't manage to do it properly. I hope next time they are doing it better.

So overall it's not a bad album, but I really think it's the weakest in DT's catalogue, because of trying to do something different and all those alien influences. And it's more simple. Maybe I'm one of these morons that don't want DT to change. But hey, this album is still a grower for sure, and it's still worth buying if you're a DT fan (specially the limited edition if you are from Europe).

Solid, Yet Flawed Construction - 73%

eyes_of_apocalypse, May 30th, 2013

It's that time again. Being one of the pioneers of melodic death metal and the only one that's still active and still relevant to the genre, everyone always anticipates Dark Tranquillity albums with bated breath; their 2000s albums in particular do people seem to hold as pillars of the melodeath sound. I want you to know going into this review that I'm not the biggest fan of that era of DT. My favorite albums have always been Projector and Haven, and I loved We Are the Void. In other words, the albums DT fans tend to dislike. I have always been more of a fan of Dark Tranquillity's more mellow, atmospheric or synth driven sound. Over time, the riffy aggressiveness that the typical fan loves about them has grown old and weary. We Are the Void in particular seems to get a lot of flak for this, something I can't fathom. The melodic, almost gothic vibe that permeates that album I really dig, and I hoped and expected them to continue that with the follow up.

They did, in fact, continue the We Are the Void concept. Construct is by all means an extension of that sound, though there are occasional excerpts taken from the multiple variations they've dabbled in throughout the years. This is surely atmosphere driven, and I predict the basic DT fanboy will be more annoyed by how restrained this album is in comparison to Character. Tracks "For Broken Words," "The Science of Noise," "The Silence in Between," and "Apathetic" are akin to the classics Dark Tranquillity is known for; while this may seem promising, all of these except "Apathetic" are still more mood-driven than the typical thrashy DT number (note, for example, the acoustic sections in "For Broken Words"). Shamefully, "Apathetic" falls completely flat and I skip it almost every time.

Stanne's clean vocals show up in full force once again in (only) three of the ten songs: "Uniformity," "What Only You Know," and "State of Trust;" predictably, these stand above the others as the album's highlights. There is a bit of a Projector vibe especially in "Uniformity" (which reminds me of a more aggressive "FreeCard"). However, there is no peaking emotional ballad like "Auctioned" (one of the best songs they've ever done), and neither is there a borderline-progressive semi-epic like "Nether Novas" (still waiting for another one of those). Instead, "What Only You Know" and "State of Trust" again sound like something off We Are the Void - "Her Silent Language" in particular; neither of them are as compelling as that masterful composition, but they are by all rights great songs. "State of Trust" in particular rises above the others with almost poppy vocals and a gothic tinge.

In the win section is also "None Becoming," which is deep and haunting, hypnotizing the listener with brooding synths. It's similar to "Iridium" before it, "My Negation," and... well, it's the basic DT closer, and those are always great. Also of note is the bonus track "Immemorial;" it lacks the aggression one expects out of these guys, yet it's still in the "heavy" department and full of catchy riffs. They threw a bit of an oddball with this one, in fact, as it sounds more like the Finnish melodeath style than the Gothenburg style they do.

There is no denying Stanne has one of the best growls in the death metal business, and they add a certain hookiness to songs such as "The Silence in Between." That said, I've always loved his clean singing even more; truly, his clean vox alone would rank him among my favorite vocalists. However, though his singing has become more refined with practice, I feel as though it lacks the emotional impact it once did in Projector. Either way, he's generally among Dark Tranquillity's highest selling points, and that hasn't changed here.

The problem with this album isn't the style. Instead, the songs seem to be missing an elusive something. Several songs feels like leftovers from the We Are the Void sessions that didn't make the cut, despite the three year gap between these albums and plenty of time to compose new tunes. Of the album's heavier tracks, there is no "One Thought," "Focus Shift," or Arkhangelsk;" meanwhile, the album's balledesque tracks fall short as well. When compared to the highlights of their career, every song on this album underwhelms. This album lacks in moments that impress the way their past albums have, and that means the entire album lacks in staying power as a result. Instead, what we have is DT's most consistent album in years - though there's no huge highs, every song aside from aforementioned "Apathetic" is simply enjoyable.

Overall, Construct is a solid album and a testament to Dark Tranquillity's consistency, despite falling short of the glory I expected. Admittedly, I like it more now than I did originally, so it is a bit of a grower and it may grow on me more yet. However, this album is about as restrained as Dark Tranquillity gets; if I, one of the only fans (I could be the only one) who wants more melody, less heavy out of DT finds this record at least slightly underwhelming, I can't imagine this album flying well with the your everyday, average Damage Done fanboy. Personally, I'm hoping they'll take one step further into the mellow side and start using cleans in almost every song again, just like in those good ol' Projector days.