Sunday, June 9, 2013
Dark Tranquillity - Construct (2013)
Country: Gothenburg, Sweden
Style: Atmospheric/Melodic Death Metal
Label: Century Media
As I mention on nearly every review I do for a melodic death metal album, my interest in the style has waned recently, but there are still several bands who can keep me interested. My relationship with Dark Tranquillity is one of the longest I've had with a band in this style. While many of the groups that came up with the band have either disbanded or stagnated in their evolution, this band has always released albums that I consider to be top caliber work.
For a band that has been around for as long as Dark Tranquillity, it's actually rather surprising that they haven't released a bad album yet. Sure, 2010's We Are The Void was a bit sub-par for them, and 1999's Projector wasn't exactly an album that garnered a whole lot of praise, I actually really like that album, but they haven't released a bad album yet. While their most well known peers in In Flames have drifted into the realms of radio metal and alternative metal, and At The Gates seem to have found comfort in simply playing reunion shows without the need of recording new material, but these guys in Dark Tranquillity have always stayed the course and released some of the best melodic death metal of the years when they actually released albums (at least in my opinion), and this album is no different.
I remember reading a review for this album where it compared it to Projector in the sense that that album was released at a point in time when the band were deciding how to progress their sound, and how the same sort of ambition came be seen on this record. To a degree, I can agree with that feeling, though the sound on this album is not as drastically different as it was back on Projector. This album definitely has all the traits one has come to expect from a Dark Tranquillity album, catchy guitar riffs, strong choruses, and a tone of melancholy, but it does definitely showcase a slightly different variation on that sound. Where the band pretty much nailed their sound down to a pat on the trilogy that was Damage Done, Character, and Fiction, this album definitely can be seen as the band moving into a slightly different direction. All the traits of those three albums can be seen on this record, but the mood is more pervasive than ever more. If previous albums maintained a melancholic mood consistently throughout an entire record, this album just overflows with that mood. It's easily the band's most moody album to date, which is no fault in my book.
It's actually a good thing in my opinion because as I stated above, the band's last full-length was not exactly up to the high caliber that many of their previous ones had been. It appeared as though the band were almost stuck in a rut with their style at that pointed and weren't really sure where to go sonically after that trilogy, but on here we can see them clearly moving into a direction that is not that dissimilar to (atmospherically) Katatonia. Tracks like Uniformity or What Only You Know definitely showcase this overpowering mood that was perhaps always in the background of the band but has now reached critical mass on here. For a band that has been going for over two decades now, it's amazing to me that these guys are still finding a way to make melodic death metal sound fresh (at least to me). There are so many bands who stop writing "aggressive" songs after making several records, and while these guys are certainly no exception, when they do craft a faster and more intense song, Apathetic, it really hits hard - which is exactly how songs of this nature should sound. On a side note, while I have always been a fan of Mikael Stanne's vocals, clean and harsh (and lyrics for that matter), his performance on here is most definitely up there with the best he's ever given. His clean vocals in particular deserve a special mention as they are his most well done to date.
Maybe you're not into melodic death metal, which is fine, but I still recommend checking this album out simply because there are very few bands out there who are as consistently great as these guys are. While it isn't their strongest album, it is certainly up there with many of their other releases. I honestly cannot wait to hear what the band does next and how they will evolve in the future. Definitely an album not to miss.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Uniformity, The Silence In Between, State of Trust