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Dark Tranquillity
Fiction

Company: Century Media
Release: 2007
Reviewer: Etiam
Rating
3.5

  • Not the band's masterwork, but a fine account of DT's passion



  • After surging back to the fore with 2002's 'Damage Done', Dark Tranquillity have ranked as one of metal's hardest working bands. Since that so-called 'return to form', the band have released a DVD, two EPs, two LPs, and toured the Western world multiple times. In the midst of it all, they have managed to present their most recent album, this year's 'Fiction'.

    While it would be improper to call Dark Tranquillity a weathervane, the band has been known to align their style somewhat to that of their contemporaries. All throughout, though, they have maintained a unique, professional identity that is at least as integral to their longevity, and in this respect 'Fiction' is no different. Where the album does separate itself from past releases is in the details, and that much more distinctively than 'Character' did from 'Damage Done'.

    For, although the past two albums were indeed stylistically modern, it is on 'Fiction' the band fully integrates (or reintegrates, in some cases) nearly all of the traits of today's melodic death scene. It is true that Dark Tranquillity's back catalogue includes all the diverse elements found on 'Fiction', but rarely have they been brought together all at once: keyboard accents, blastbeats, arcing harmonies, thick (dare I say "fat") bass tones, harsh and clean vocals, all prominently featured in turn from one song to the next.

    Another distinction is in the songwriting itself, which without stepping outside of their established framework, is some of the band's most diverse in years. One of the most obvious is the frequent use of one-note chugging riffs that appear in the majority of the songs and often in a leading role. Fans may disagree as to their worth, but no one could accuse the band of relying solely on them to get along. Each passage of straight chugging is contrasted with Dark Tranquillity harmonized riffing, synth arpeggios, patent Jivarp blasting, and Stanne's inimitable voice. Long one of the genre's most recognizable vocalists, on 'Fiction' Stanne continues to imbue his effortless delivery with palpable emotion.

    Also in keeping with Dark Tranquillity's post-millennium style is 'Fiction's admittedly formulaic approach. 'Fiction's tracks are well-separated by instrumentation, tempo, mood, etc., but they all do follow a fairly predictable, repetitive structure. Obviously this is a little disappointing, but the songwriting and lyrics nevertheless exude a poised maturity, with 'Inside the Particle Storm' and 'The Mundane and the Magic' ranking among the band's most intriguing compositions.

    Reflecting, it is interesting to note that 'Fiction' is the 4th release of the millennium for the band as well as their 8th overall. As such, any old-school fans hoping for a total 'return to form' (i.e. 1993-style), might as well get over their hopes and just spin 'Skydancer' again. Dark Tranquillity may be proud of their past laurels, but they have never rested on them. While enduring fans may not find 'Fiction' to be the band's masterwork, it is an excellent introduction for new fans and a fine account of Dark Tranquillity's enduring passion for their music.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: DARK TRANQUILLITY
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    CharacterDark Tranquillity
    2005
    Eric Compton1/25/2005
    FictionDark Tranquillity
    2007
    Etiam2/22/2008
    We Are The VoidDark Tranquillity
    2010
    Raising Iron5/1/2010
    We Are The VoidDark Tranquillity
    2010
    Eric Compton3/5/2010


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: DARK TRANQUILLITY
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    AtomaDark Tranquillity
    2016
    Eric Compton12/16/2016


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: DARK TRANQUILLITY
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
    Niklas SundinDark TranquillityGreg Watson, Eric Compton8/22/2014


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