Total Time: 50:00
Label: Century Media
The beloved Swedes and pioneers of the melodic Death Metal sound DARK TRANQUILLLY, return with their twelfth work, “Moment”. Listening to it continuously for a week now I find myself in a situation like the Schrodinger’s cat experiment: Listening to the record I like more and more, but at the same time I find drawbacks – a Metal paradox?
But let’s take things one at a time. “Moment” finds the band for the first time without any of its original guitarists, as Sundin decided to hang his guitar to devote himself to his family. Thankfully, he carried on working on the visual aspect by creating the beautiful cover of the new album. To fill his void, as well as that of Henriksson who left the band a few years earlier, the Swedes welcomed to their ranks Christopher Amott (ARCH ENEMY) and Johan Reinholdz (ANDROMEDA, SKYFIRE, NONEXIST), who were already helping with the live performances of DARK TRANQUILLITY from 2017.
As expected, such a move brought an air of renewal but not of change. This is because the main composers of the band are the trio of Stanne (voice), Jivarp (drums) and Brandstrom (keys), who are also the oldest members now. So once again they insist on operating to the familiar sound they have created and perfected over the last twenty years: a melodic Death Metal based more on atmosphere and melody than on aggression. Something that has alienated a large portion of their older fans, but at the same time has provided them with a solid and dedicated fan base.
It’s another paradox that a band that spent the first ten years of its career presenting a different face with each release, to look so comfortable in the same sound for two decades now. On the other hand, why should it be wrong when a band finds exactly the musical direction that expresses it, and does not deviate from it? Equally, it is remarkable how DARK TRANQUILLITY manage to continue to create such quality albums after 30 years of existence. If something ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
So “Moment” does not offer us any surprises, but it gives us 12 excellent compositions of the band’s unique brand of Gothenburg Metal. The big difference from the previous records, is I believe the reduction of fast songs and extensive use of clean vocals. For the first time since “Projector” we hear them so much – half the songs on the album. And without wanting to exaggerate, I think we are dealing with perhaps Mikael Stanne’s best work in this area. Listen for example to the awesome choruses in “The Dark Unbroken”, “Eyes Of The World”, the addictive “Standstill” or the almost Gothic Doom closing with “In Truth Divided”. The use of clean vocals combined with the atmospheric and melancholic approach is perhaps the closest DARK TRANQUILLITY have ever done to the sound of the iconic “Projector”.
Of course, the band’s aggressive element is still here with several heavy and up-tempo tracks like “Identical To None”, “Ego Deception” or “Phantom Days” with its catchy chorus. The guitar work is impeccable. Amott and Reinholdz, have fully adapted to the sound of the band without their riffs or solos sounding alien. Especially their solo work is one of the highlights of “Moment” along certainly with Stanne’s vocals.
The songs sound simple at first, and this might not impress you initially, but if you listen carefully you will discover the different layers that make them up; the constant changes in tempo, the riffs, the leads guitars, the melodies, the atmosphere.
Brandstrom’s keys, which have become an integral part of the Swedes’ music, are also present here, sometimes as a piano and sometimes as synths, adding to the atmosphere of the album. But there are also moments that seem to be superfluous, as they “sweeten” the sound of the band a lot. This together with the clean production removes some of the aggression of the album, which in my opinion would benefit from a little volume more.
So, is “Moment” one of the same or is it something different? I’d say both. Another paradox, then! Yes, DARK TRANQUILLITY have not changed their style, but this 12th release presents us with a renewed band, which retains its identity and at the same time shows the willingness to explore its most atmospheric and melodic side, reminding us of a special moment in its history. I would love to see the band continue on this path, using more clean vocals, more atmosphere but also a relative decrease in the use of keys. Until then, let’s put aside any expectations and unfulfilled desires we have for the Swedes, and let’s enjoy their music.
Editor: Dimitris Benetatos
Related Link: DARK TRANQUILLITY – Official Page