Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the main character

dark tranquillity - 'character'

released: january 25, 2005
century media

songs: 1. the new build 2. through smudged lenses 3. out of nothing 4. the endless feed 5. lost to apathy 6. mind matters 7. one thought 8. dry run 9. am i 1? 10. senses tied 11. my negation

If you want to quickly define this band, you could do far worse than calling them the thinking man's quintessential metal band. In the last decade they have proven themselves to be quite far ahead of mostly everyone else, and consistently so. There is a sense of purpose, of meaning, at every Dark Tranquillity release. Not that there's anything (thematically) wrong with demons or drugs or death, to namecheck just a few examples of overused topics, but Dark Tranquillity go at it the hard way, and you get chaos theory, philosophy, art, psychology and if you read one of their obviously fascinated-with-language-like lyric sheets you will get an idea without me going on about it. The hardest thing about this approach is that you come across as horribly po-faced if the music itself doesn't match up to it.

It should come as no surprise, if you have paid attention these last few years, that 'Character', once again, more than matches the quality of their lyrical concept. More like another refining step than a departure from 'Damage Done', the album's main change is in the sound itself - it's huge. So huge you get the feeling Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson have made a few clones of themselves to help out with the guitarwork. Martin Brändström's electronic work is also remarkable and much more present than before, giving highlight songs like 'Lost To Apathy' or 'The New Build' a whole new dimension. Finally there is that roar, that unmistakable vocal presence of the great Mikael Stanne.

Powerful, amazingly written and produced, oozing class from every pore, the only niggle that you can pick at 'Character' is that Dark Tranquillity haven't really done that quantum leap in evolution that 'Projector' hinted at. For all the greatness of 'Character', there is the feeling that, given the skyrocketing talent available here, they could go a bit further. Despite the more proeminent use of electronics, it's pretty much a Dark Tranquillity album still. by no means stagnating (not by a long shot), the Swedes have nevertheless towering standards to meet. Still, 'Character' has just what its title suggests and it is obviously essential.

the good: huge sound, powerful compositions, untouchable musicianship on every level
the bad: given the talent involved, it could be more adventurous


  1. I have never heard them, but I like the cover.

  2. Perhaps Dark Tranquility are saving some adventurous talent for future efforts? ... as I've said many a time ... I shalt have to check them out.

  3. mark - check out the cover for 'the mind's i' too. they're good at that. niklas sundin, the guitar player, is an artist who has done covers for several other bands as well.

    dpth - tell me how you liked them afterwards! :)

  4. I know I reviewed another of these guys' work for one of the sites or mags. Pretty good band.