Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (47:42)
Release year: 2010
Dark Tranquillity, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

A new album from Dark Tranquillity is like a birthday present for their many fans. After all, they're the best of the Gothenburg big guns, miles ahead of In Flames in reliability and several light years ahead of Soilwork in sheer heaviness, not to mention easily beating both in terms of songwriting. It says a lot for Dark Tranquillity that they're the least easiest to get into, as well - anyone can nod along to In Flames' tormented anthems or Soilwork's catchy stomps, but to dig Dark Tranquillity takes a little practise. They've changed the least from their early days, after all, still very much reliant on that early 90s musical template that others have more or less dropped, not to mention the fact that on the average Dark Tranquillity album harsh vocals outweigh clean singing by a large ratio. Clich├ęd though it may be, you really can't appreciate an album from Stanne and co. without listening to it multiple times - the mixture of Prog, Goth, Doom, Death and even some Blackened elements is putty in these experienced hands, and the resulting albums are always solid slabs of underground-rooted Metal, never failing to impress.

That's one of the band's few flaws, really, their predictability. I won't be telling you much that you don't already know about the band, let's get that straight from the start. There was no point even jokingly pretending that We Are The Void has metalcore breakdowns and pit-friendly brutality, as it's simply unbelievable that Dark Tranquillity would do that to their fans or themselves. I'm not as rabid a fan of them as my colleague Alex is, but I can fully understand why he loves them - their reputation in the underground is far higher than that of their peers, and rightfully so, given the large amounts of time I've spent with We Are The Void and the rest of their discography. This album, their ninth, is little short of masterly, absolutely professional in the way that each song envelopes you in its complex yet catchy embrace. There's little filler, just songs that haven't clicked yet - describing each and every single track which is actually killer (instead of the absolute best that I've selected below) would make for a massive review - and whilst there's nothing outstandingly Progressive or experimental to wrap your ears around, the way that minor aspects of each genre are tied together into a perfect package proves that Dark Tranquillity know exactly what they're doing.

Take opener and first single Shadow In Our Blood, kicking off with almost Middle-Eastern melody before jumping feet-first into catchy grooving riffage. It could be one of the heavier cuts from a Lacuna Coil album (Comalies, say) until Mikael Stanne starts growling, and from then on it's impossible not to enjoy yourself, the precision in the band's knowledge of when to repeat the chorus and when to move into a solo absolutely expert. Dream Oblivion is more strident and riff-driven, keyboard flourishes underpinning a very infectious riff structure that is at once like the last few Dark Tranquillity albums and wholly new - practically no other band is so capable of sticking to a formula and making consistently new and improved albums. Typically, these guys have enough minor shifts and changes in their sound to keep accusations of stagnation at bay, and yet there's a real feel of invested emotion which helps make We Are The Void no exception - The Fatalist's gloom-infused intensity is sure to be a live favourite, and the gloom-ridden In My Absence acts as a nice interlude.

The variety goes further than you'd expect - The Grandest Accusation harkens back to The Gallery and could easily fit on that classic album with lessened keyboards, yet the wistful clean singing is all Projector, and the track immediately following it, At The Point Of Ignition, is more typically Melodeath. Of course, Dark Tranquillity's take on typical Melodeath is several stages of awesome beyond everyone else's - Her Silent Language especially is an album highlight. It's almost like the best track that Paradise Lost never made, every note perfect and considered, adding up to an excellent whole that incorporates the guitar heroics of Melodic Death with the drama and atmosphere of Gothic Metal. Not that atmosphere is generally lacking - the coldly grandiose Arkhangelsk is a standout in that respect, yet each track has much to recommend it, from the Thrashy title track to the six-minute finale of Iridium, which starts with wonderful clean singing before turning epic and almost orchestral black metal with its stormy wall-of-sound.

It's easy to feel slightly underwhelmed after the first listen, but such is Dark Tranquillity's genius that by the third or fourth listen the songs make perfect sense and the album becomes more than just another new album that you're not used to yet. We Are The Void may have a slightly silly title, and the cover art could have been better chosen, yet the music inside is as good as ever, and it fully deserves to be placed alongside the band's other albums on every fan's shelf. Someone on our forum here once said that Dark Tranquillity were the perpetual 85 / 100 band, referring to their reliably high quality, and I'm going to go one better.

Killing Songs :
Shadow In Our Blood, Dream Oblivion, The Fatalist, The Grandest Accusation, Her Silent Language, I Am The Void, Iridium
Goat quoted 86 / 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 - Where Death Is Most Alive (DVD) reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
To see all 15 reviews click here
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