Dark Tranquillity - The Gallery
Osmose Productions
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (47'49")
Release year: 1995
Dark Tranquillity, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Alex

Ever since I have joined the team of Metalreviews I wanted to do a review of an album by Dark Tranquillity, one of my favorite bands. On the other hand I have been timid as I wanted for the review to be just perfect. With Haven and Damage Done already reviewed recently I had my choice narrowed between Projector and The Gallery. While being an excellent album, Projector is much more experimental. With clean vocals and significant keyboard presence it broke new ground and influenced many in the melodic death scene. Nowadays, In Flames, Soilwork and others doing clean vocals is considered a norm, but back in the days of Projector some Dark Tranquillity fans questioned the choice (not me though, I think Stanne is awesome on Projector!!). Back to the issue at hand. The Gallery is a landmark of an album, a creation of the mythological proportions, a must for anybody who seriously considers him/herself a fan of Gothenburg metal and melodic metal in general. If you are only getting a taste for this music right now, I strongly urge you to dig out The Gallery at all cost and understand where and how the style was originated.

The Gallery combines the best traits of Dark Tranquillity in one breathtaking package. Blistering, technical melodic leads, Maidenish melodies, memorable riffing, acoustic passages, guitar harmonies, fast and precise drumming, both harsh and clean (by a female singer) vocals – it is all here. However, and this is why Dark Tranquillity is one of my favorite bands, they have this unprecedented knack of taking the raging maelstrom of human emotions and presenting it in a way that leaves you speechless. At least for me, they can.

The opener Punish My Heaven kicks things off in style. From the very first notes the band goes into the insanely technical melodic lead and fast drumming. After things slow down a bit and one starts enjoying the melody, Mikael Stanne jumps in with the harshest scream possible. With time his death vocals improved. He is now much more articulate. These days, I sometimes don’t even need the lyrics booklet to decipher the lyrics (not the meaning of the lyrics which, of course, is a different story). In The Gallery he screams right atop of his esophagus, and it is all so fitting with emotions that must have been overwhelming the bandmembers when the album was put together. The middle lead is one of the best ever for Dark Tranquillity. I had the pleasure of witnessing this song live recently at the band’s first official US tour, and it is as good live as it was the first time I heard it on the CD. Keyboard overdubs (by producer Fredrik Nordstrom) can be heard in the end of the song.

The album contains a few more fast tracks like The One Brooding Warning and Midway Through Infinity. In The One Brooding Warning two guitars (Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson) play off each other in the beginning and build things up. It feels as if they issue each other a challenge, which results in the tension spring uncoiling in the song’s final harmony. Midway Through Infinity finds the band almost in a playful mood with its thrashy chorus lines. It also feels that the opening riff of this song has been emulated by others a million times since.

The majority of the album is mid-paced, although there are subtle rhythm changes throughout. What is constant though is the never-ending presence of the melodic guitar weaving through the fabric of every song. Be it the down tuned melody of Silence And The Firmament Withdrew, cascading opening of Edenspring – the almighty guitar rules the world of Dark Tranquillity with its North inspired serenity and confidence. Drums (Anders Jivarp) propel this world along, and vocals color it in many shades, but there is only one undeniable King. The tone of the guitar tuning is both original and soulful. With such sadness and emotion emanating by the guitar it is practically impossible to write "cheerful" melodies, and Dark Tranquillity succeeds in ripping the sensual fibres out of my heart.

The Gallery is the first song on the album to feature some female vocals and spectacular percussion. Eva-Marie Larsson is not operatic, but her sensual voice contrasts Stanne very well. She appears in two more places on Lethe and epic closer … Of Melancholy Burning. In the latter, there is a place where Stanne takes a “running start” and his voice converges with Eva-Marie’s in a duet so powerful it sends shivers down my spine. Lead - riff – acoustic chord in the end finish the song off. Preceding … Of Melancholy Burning is an acoustic instrumental Mine Is The Grandeur. Folk melody combined with timpani simply prepares one for the soul cry that is … Of Melancholy Burning.

The song Lethe occupies a special pedestal for me. Every time I think I can’t feel any worse about my misfortunes I put that track on. After I subject myself to Lethe’s killer riffs and melody I always feel better as if the pain expressed in the song cleanses my soul. The brooding acoustic intro is the best ever. Better than anybody before or after it. Period.

Dark Tranquillity’s lyrics are special. I doubt there are two people who will understand Stanne’s poetry in the exact same way. If I had a wealth of time on my hands I would have held a competition titled “What does Dark Tranquillity’s lyrics mean to you?” I will not try to expalin how I understand each song on The Gallery. Sometimes the lyrics are so personal, I really can’t comprehend them, but I will try with Lethe. Being a huge Greek mythology buff I know that Lethe is the name of the river in the Greek Otherworld. Unlike the Christian Heavens it is located underground. When a deceased soul goes underground it is being carried across Lethe on a ferry driven by Kharon. If a soul drinks from Lethe, it undergoes complete amnesia. It will forget all pains and pleasures of its earthly flesh, there will be no more memories, just eternal piece and serenity. Now, see if these lyrics describe the picture for you: “Lethe,/ give me to drink of the fluid/that disintegrates/and lend me the sweet balm and blessing/of forgetfulness, empty and strong/Hold me near, unravel the stars/as I speed through the heavens,/speed through the night/for you are my blade and my rope,/you are my/Lethe”.

This may sound cheesy, but I will tell you this. Without Dark Tranquillity’s music my world would have been incomplete. I have said it before, so the closest people who know me will attest that this is the truth. I will never get tired of thanking Dark Tranquillity for existing.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Dark Tranquillity that we have reviewed:
Dark Tranquillity - Atoma reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - Construct reviewed by Jared and quoted 65 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - Zero Distance EP reviewed by Chris and quoted No quote
Dark Tranquillity - The Mind's I reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 15 reviews click here
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