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Dark Tranquillity - "We Are The Void" (CD)

Dark Tranquillity - "We Are The Void" CD cover image

"We Are The Void" track listing:

1. Shadow in Our Blood (3:46)
2. Dream Oblivion (3:48)
3. The Fatalist (4:32)
4. In My Absence (4:47)
5. The Grandest Accusation (4:55)
6. At the Point of Ignition (3:52)
7. Her Silent Language (3:33)
8. Arkhangelsk (3:56)
9. I Am the Void (4:00)
10. Surface the Infinite (3:50)
11. Iridium (6:43)

Reviewed by on February 20, 2010

"Taken on its own as a standalone entry in the melodic death metal world “We Are The Void” is an amazing album, but when considered in the greater musical spectrum, it loses a lot of steam."

Lumped in with groups like At The Gates and In Flames, the Swedish metal brigade Dark Tranquillity is generally hailed as one of the originators of the far reaching melodic death metal style. Their music has spawned an entire genre as well as a host of sub-genres that draw heavily from their influence. “We Are The Void” is their latest outing into aggressive but melodic metal, and it’s an unquestionably impressive offering that continues supplying all the things that garnered their previous albums such a wide fan base. Although it will easily continue to please genre fans, it doesn’t actually do much to break out of the formula Dark Tranquillity has been sticking closely to for their last several releases.

There is a surprisingly catchy and eastern influenced sound effect intro that seems like opener “Shadow in Our Blood” might be going for a completely new approach. The subtle keyboard work in the background throughout the song also has a chilling and slightly eerie atmospheric effect that is a welcome addition to the music. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for the standard Dark Tranquillity guitar riffs, heard many times before, to show up and overtake the song.

Vocalist Mikeal Stanne's harsh growls are a constant presence in the music, and they are integrated exceedingly well. They come off more like another instrument in the mix than the absolute forefront of the music, so the guitars and keys get more than enough play time. The growling work is uniformly harsh and compelling, and even frequently understandable, although there isn’t much variation in tone. As has come to be expected from Dark Tranquillity, impressive guitar acrobatics make regular appearances, both in the melodic and more brutal segments.

By the time “In My Absence” rolls around, when that same chugging, heavy guitar riff is getting used yet again, the monotony starts to set in. There is no question that the music itself is high quality, but it’s been heard time and again from the band both between full-length albums and between individual songs. A few new twists pop up every now and again to keep things from getting outright repetitive, like a brief bout of clean singing in “The Grandest Accusation” and intermittent electronic interludes in “Dream Oblivion.”

“We Are The Void” has its fair share of interesting sound effects and stunning keyboard and guitar combinations, but it can’t escape the general feeling that these songs have been recorded before. Taken on its own as a standalone entry in the melodic death metal world “We Are The Void” is an amazing album, but when considered in the greater musical spectrum, it loses a lot of steam. There are a few noticeable differences in the keyboard work this time around, but overall the songs sound like they could have come straight off “Fiction” or “Character.” Dark Tranquillity pioneered the style, and they have steadfastly championed it, but unfortunately they haven’t figured out how to refine it or execute it in new ways.

Highs: High quality melodic death metal from the masters of the style.

Lows: The same guitar riff gets used over and over, and most of the songs sound like they could have been lifted from the last two albums.

Bottom line: Excellent melodic death metal, but it feels like Dark Tranquillity has released the same album three times in a row now.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)