So consistent have Dark Tranquillity's albums been throughout the years, that it ironically takes an especially spectacular effort like 2010's We Are the Void to make one realize that the prior few -- specifically 2005's Character and 2007's Fiction -- had actually left something wanting. Yes, both of those releases boasted several standout songs, yet, as a whole, they retroactively seem somewhat unexciting as compared to We Are the Void‘s significant boosting of DT's alchemical interaction between death metal ferocity and melodic sensitivity. For as foreign as the notion of "hooks" may be to extreme metal's fundamental principles, the fact is that this latest long-player is just dripping with them -- whether they take shape as contagious guitar lines, plaintive synthesizer figures, or even Mikael Stanne's fearsome death growl. Every one of these disparate ingredients -- plus killer riffs and machine-gun drums -- permeate fascinating studies in sonic contrast like "The Grandest Accusation," "At the Point of Ignition," and an all-time classic in the ominous "The Fatalist." Not to be outdone, on "Dream Oblivion," DT's concerted attack escalates to an almost symphonic density; on "Her Silent Language," rarely heard clean vocals soften the blow accordingly, but just; and on the closing, brooding "Iridium," gothic overtones clash against sand-blasting fury worthy of black metal to astounding effect. OK, so stylistically, there are really no revolutionary changes afoot -- not even mild ones, in fact -- just stunningly accomplished songs playing to Dark Tranquillity's strengths on a scale not heard in some time. That's why, before all is said and done, We Are the Void has a very good chance of standing alongside 1995's The Gallery and 2000's Haven as DT career highlights.
We Are the Void Review
by Eduardo Rivadavia