REVIEW: Dark Tranquillity – Moment

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Swedish melodic death metal icon DARK TRANQUILLITY barely needs any introduction. Together with IN FLAMES and AT THE GATES, they were at the forefront of the Gothenburg melodeath scene as their 1995 album, “The Gallery,” is widely regarded as a classic that helped define this style of metal. Decades later the band is still reigning supreme as one of Sweden’s top metal acts and “Moment,” their anticipated follow-up to 2016’s “Atoma,” is being released on 20 November 2020, via Century Media Records.  

 It is said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when the tricks it does are more than up-to-standard, why bother with new ones? The same principle applies to “Moment,” an album that, though isn’t groundbreaking in any way, still delivers in terms of heaviness, melody, and emotion. And that is all that should matter, as bands don’t need to constantly reinvent themselves or update their sound with each new release, or outdo their previous work. There is nothing wrong with being consistent and delivering top-notch metal even if the formula is pretty much the same. With “Moment,” DARK TRANQUILLITY offer listeners a collection of twelve songs that feature many of their trademark elements on full display, from Mikael Stanne’s excellent vocals to newcomers Chris Amott and Johan Reinholdz’s beautiful guitar melodies and outstanding solos, all the way to Martin Brandström’s keys and synths overlays that add depth and texture to the music.

There’s a superb sense of melody that carries this album forward, which comes not only from the way the vocal parts are divided and delivered or from the guitar riffs, but also from the atmosphere created by the piano and drums. As the singles pointed out, there are songs that feature all harsh vocals (like opening trio “Phantom Days,” “Transient,” and “Identical to None”), while others songs have clean vocals either during the chorus (“The Dark Unbroken” or “Ego Deception”) or during the verses (“Remain in the Unknown”), which adds to the diversity of the album. Furthermore, the different moods, ambiances, and emotions that run through “Moment” make the listening experience all the more engaging, as the band juggles between melancholy and aggression with gusto and panache, sometimes merging the two extremes in the space of one song (“Identical to None” or “Eyes of the World”). Tracks like the aforementioned “The Dark Unbroken” and “Remain in the Unknown,” or “Standstill,” are not just melody-driven but also uplifting and positive, with beautiful chorus sections, while such cuts like “A Drawn Out Exit,” “Empires Lost to Time,” or “Failstate” are more guitar-oriented, darker, and heavier. Both “The Dark Unbroken” and album closer, “In Truth Divided,” provide both a change of pace and a beautiful atmosphere as the piano is more predominant, floating atop the music, drawing attention to it but without pulling focus from the vocals.      

Being the seasoned musicians that they are, they know when to be restrained with their respective parts, and when to show off their skills. As was the case with DRACONIAN’s new album, it’s the compositions that dictate the flow of the music and not the musician’s abilities. Every note and every vocal line has to serve the song, to give a reason why the guitars and drums are not that dominant, as the melodies take precedence over everything else. However, when they do get to cut loose, they shine, as is the case with the guitar solos throughout the album, but especially in “Standstill” and “A Drawn Out Exile,” the opening riffs of “Ego Deception,” the atmospheric keys in “The Dark Unbroken,” the frantic drumming in “Failstate,” and the emotional vocals in “In Truth Divided,” just to name some of the album’s highlight moments.

Subdued and melancholic, some may find “Moment” somewhat lacking in technical poignancy or death metal brutality while others, like myself, may appreciate it for its brooding nature and melodic backbone. No matter on which side of the coin you land, one thing is for certain – DARK TRANQUILLITY have still got it as “Moment” offers quality metal topped with incredible vocal performances from Mikael Stanne, plenty of anthemic moments, and complex passages. Like PARADISE LOST’s “Obsidian” earlier this year, “Moment” is a refined album that is almost perfect in composition and delivery, while being a musical snapshot of the band’s rich history.  

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. Phantom Days 
  2. Transient
  3. Identical to None 
  4. The Dark Unbroken 
  5. Remain in the Unknown
  6. Standstill
  7. Ego Deception
  8. A Drawn Out Exit
  9. Eyes of the World 
  10. Failstate
  11. Empires Lost to Time 
  12. In Truth Divided

Lineup

Mikael Stanne – Vocals

Martin Brandström – Keys, Synth

Chris Amott – Guitar

Johan Reinholdz – Guitar

Anders Iwers – Bass

Anders Jivarp – Drums

Label

Century Media Records

Links

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