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One of Gothenburg's Best. - 90%

woeoftyrants, January 27th, 2007

(Note: I originally write this on on June 1st, 2006.)

I believe I'm not alone when I argue that Dark Tranquillity's '95 album "The Gallery" is the cornerstone of the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound, as well as the album that took it into a different dimension. This album has the trademark harmonies, melodic solos, occasional female vocals, and a stellar production; but at the same time, it's not "straight-up" melodic death like In Flames early albums or old Arch Enemy. No, "The Gallery" has a progressive feel to it, and a somewhat Gothic atmosphere to it. (I would connect this to Stanne's lyrics.) Dark Tranquillity use a technical flair on this album not found in many metal bands; meaning that the transitions between the riffs are kind of weird. You know, the type of thing where just as you're getting into a nice riff, it switches up on you, and you're taken by surprise, finding yourself saying, "Woah, didn't see that coming!" However, it's not self-indulgent and the technical moments seem to make the album deeper and keep things interesting, rather than just trade riffs back and forth. For instance, "The Dividing Line" starts off with a strange, amorphous drum pattern leading a jagged guitar lead, but right after this, the boys kick it into high gear with ass-kicking harmonies in true Gothenburg style.

My love for the guitars on this album is unfathomable. From the gorgeous interlude "Mine is the Grandeur", which tastefully utilizes three classical acoustic guitars (harmonizing with each other, of course) and booming timpani drums, to the epic yet somber "Lethe" and the frantic neo-classical solos on "Punish My Heaven", it's total perfection. The display is not totally virtuostic, and the harmonies add so much impalpable atmosphere to this record. The bass playing is superb as well. Instead of playing regular root notes, the bass seems to be a totally independent instrument by itself, as seen on "Edenspring".

One of the greatest things that grabbed me about this album was the drumwork. The listener doesn't get pummeled to death with double bass overhauls or endless thrashfests, but the drumming firmly supports the music. To sum it up, it's technical, intricate, but not over the top. Anders allows to music to breathe, and his odd patterns add a lot to the music.

Stanne's voice here is his best, I think. His raspy screams are at his emotional heighth on "...Of Melancholy Burning" and the vicous "The Emptiness From Which I Fed", and his lyrics are far from the metal norm. You can feel the sorrow through his screams, and he doesn't try to be another Anders Friden clone. There are some occasional clean vocals, and the female vocals on the title track work perfectly, giving the album even more of an epic feel.

This is definitely an essential metal album, and I would place it in my top 5 of the 90's. Pick up at all costs.