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Dark Tranquillity: Character

The creators of the Gothenburg Sound of melodic death metal, Sweden's Dark Tranquillity return with one of their most brutal and aggressive albums ever, appropriately titled Character. This release shows the band at their most lethal, their most personal, filled with bombastic guitar riffs, virtuoso and complex unison guitar harmonies, waves of keyboards, a juggernaut rhythm section, and Mikael Stanne's gurgling death metal vocals. While many are no doubt familiar with this bands primal and ferocious sound, those new to Dark Tranquility will find that on Character, once you get bast the brutal assault of your initial listen, the music is actually very melodic and reveals many hidden nuances after repeated spins.

A song like "Out of Nothing" injects heaping amounts of neat keyboard tapestries amidst the bludgeoning guitar chords, while "The Endless Feed" has an eerie gothic touch thanks to Stanne's dark vocals and the slow crunchy guitar work coupled with more symphonic synthesizers.

Fans of simple, straightforward death metal will love the rampaging sounds of "Lost to Apathy", a relentless juggernaut of gargled vocals, double bass drums, and vicious guitar work. The harmony guitar work of Nirlas Sundin and Martin Henriksson is in fine form on the progressive metal of "Mind Matters", one of the CD's more complex tunes, and the symphonic "Dry Run" has a real crunchy groove to it that will appeal to both headbangers and proggers.

The band dives into In Flames and Soilwork territory on the electronic yet savage melodicism of "Senses Tied", which features some great synth lines from Martin Brandstrom. A pefect sense of the tortured melodrama that the band is trying to convey on this release is climaxed with the album's ending piece, the near 7-minute "My Negation", a brooding number featuring Stanne's haunting death metal vocals, heavy riffs, and wonderful, melodic keyboard backdrops.

In a storied career in the history of melodic death metal, Dark Tranquillity have a host of impressive releases, and Character will no doubt sit near the top of that list. Heavy, progressive, gothic, you name it, this album has it all. It's early in 2005, but already this will surely rank as one of the years best metal releases.

Track Listing
1) The New Build (4:08)
2) Through Smudged Lenses (4:13)
3) Out of Nothing (3:54)
4) The Endless Feed (4:45)
5) Lost to Apathy (4:38)
6) Mind Matters (3:31)
7) One Thought (4:09)
8) Dry Run (4:08)
9) Am I? (4:31)
10) Senses Tied (4:04)
11) My Negation (6:29)

Added: December 7th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 5748
Language: english

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Dark Tranquillity: Character
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-12-07 07:44:53
My Score:

Considered one of the pioneers in the Gothenburg sound Progressive Death Metal icons Dark Tranquility have given you the perfect CD to get into their sound if you have not already done so. Front to back this CD is an in-your-face experience that is not soon to be recovered from. The growling of Mikael Stanne raging like a madman through the widely technical and heavy riffing only strengthens the piece as each track blasts from the stereo. Having only tested their work in other listens I have to say that this one appealed to me instantly for it raised the bar on what the group helped to create so long ago. If you are a fan of groups like Opeth and Darkane you will enjoy the level of technical expertise that is demonstrated on each and every track. The drive is solid in most cases with riveting patterns coming from all the players in the group. The guitar work of Sundin and Henriksson is to be commended in high fashion while the drumming of Anders Jivarp throws you into all different directions with every second. There is a great use of keyboards in this release and it adds for some great mood changes and that had a two-fold benefit for me. Music like this breaks the mold of what you expect in a certain genre and it proves that most Death Metal bands who go the Progressive route are indeed talented and not one-trick ponies.

I had a number of favorites on this album and I advise those that might be swayed by the words to at least sample these particular tracks. The first is "Through Smudged Lenses" which offers some top of the line thrash as its intro and then mixes several other twists in. "One Thought" was a perfect raise your horns to the air number and while I can never follow growlers vocally I felt I was actually catching up to him on this one. With the track "Out Of Nothing" the instrumentation shows that even the most hard core of Death bringers have some Iron Maiden and Priest influences to their musical history. My last favorite was "Lost To Apathy" as it brings the love of the hard dancing to your mind. I defy you not to mosh and headbang during this and most of the other tracks on this album.

I give a high recommendation to this release because as I compared notes from other writers who were studied in the group I saw them all agreeing that this was perhaps the bands finest work. Since the writings generate from both Progressive and Metal leaders in the field I felt I was in good company with my high rating. Check it out and be as impressed as we all were.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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