Dark Tranquillity - Character
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (48:06)
Release year: 2005
Dark Tranquillity, Century Media
Reviewed by Jay
Album of the month

Having just posted our favorites for 2004, it should come as no surprise that the first real contender for 2005 album of the year comes to us from Dark Tranquillity. This band has consistently released nothing but quality album after quality album. Damage Done was a landmark disc for them and this album only builds upon the magnificence of that album. Unlike other Gothenburg bands that have changed style, direction and genre, Dark Tranquillity endures as one of the last of a dying breed; a far-flug hermit in a sea of conformity. If anything, this new release hearkens back to their days of old more than Damage Done.

When the album kicks off, the first sounds assaulting your ears are the crash of blast beats and the awesome power of the melodic riffs that Henriksson and Sundin tear out. “The New Build” is a brilliant and powerful example of all the band can do. Sounding fresh and current, they bring melodic guitar and electronic parts in harmony with the true old speed and ferocity of 1995. Where would the band be without vocalist Mikael Stanne, though? His vocals have gotten better with each release and this is no exception. He comes through clear as a bell and the gravely tone he growls with is even more profound and pronounced. Despite the flawless production, it adds an additional rawness to their music. This edge is a pronounced reminder of the amazing skill and distinct voice possessed by this man. While some claim that electronic sounds have no place in death metal, I beg to differ. Dark Tranquillity masterfully blends them into their music as an eerie atmospheric effect and as a platform to build even more sonic dominance from. The short outro to “Through Smudged Lenses” serves as a perfect example. Sounding similar to Rammstein’sNebel,” the short keyboard driven part imparts a calming and ominous aire to the song. The very next song shows how electronics can be a quite important part of their music. Despite a short solo, the keyboard fills certainly compliment all that they try and do guitar wise.

There are some more varied tracks on this album than before. “The Endless Feed” breaks things down into a slow almost gothic pace complete with guitars being played backwards and a keyboard part reminiscent of the dungeon music from old Nintendo games. It’s a profound sound from the band and displays the tightness and cohesiveness of songwriting that none but the masters of a genre can produce. This is juxtaposed next to the first single “Lost to Apathy” which is about as commercial as a band like this can get. Once I heard this song, I knew I would be doomed to humming it day in and day out for weeks on end. Who can forget the haunting melodies that are pumped out during the chorus here? Or the ethereal solo that is just repetitive enough to delight your aural cortex. “Mind Matters” brings things right back to reality with a straight-up older style track where the guitars shine far brighter than the electronics. Their melodies are infectious, beautifully written, and skillful. I feel as though I may run out of compliments for this band.

Further sonic delights await you as this disc progresses. The latter songs aren’t quite as powerful as the earlier ones but that is like comparing a 12 karat diamond to an 11.9 karat diamond. Both are spectacular, one just has a slight modicum of additional bombast. They end the album with a dazzling song similar to the way that Damage Done ended. “My Negation” is a schizophrenic song with varied parts, vocal styles, electronic input and metal brilliance. Switching tempos, song structure, harmonies, melodies it is a piece of metal brilliance worthy of the masters of Gothenburg.

Recently the melodic death metal versus melodeath argument broke out in the forums. After careful consideration, they truly are two separate styles at this point. Soilwork is more the melodeath now while Dark Tranquillity is still flying the melodic death metal banner. This is a trend that we can only hope to continue for years to come. Character is a career-defining work and quite possibly their best to date. The Swedish scene is still ruled supreme by these six metal masters.

Killing Songs :
The entire album.
Jay quoted 97 / 100
Jason quoted 95 / 100
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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