Dark Tranquillity

Where Death Is Most Alive

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Released in 2009, the cheekily named Where Death Is Most Alive is Dark Tranquillity's first official live album (and a double to boot, also available on DVD), and, amid its 20-song playlist and 90 minutes of duration, the most significant moments may just be the first few, when the audience spontaneously erupts into a singalong to "The Treason Wall"'s guitar parts as though they are some sort of soccer club chant. Significant because this is a death metal band, after all, dominated like all others by Cookie Monster-style growling and implacable extreme metal ferocity, and so this reaction speaks volumes about DT's legacy, as perhaps the greatest melodic death metal band of all time. This position is both celebrated and supported by this 20th anniversary set chock-full of classic tracks culled from virtually all of the group's studio albums, which were captured at a single concert in Milan, Italy, on October 31, 2008. Only Dark Tranquillity's 1993 debut, Skydancer -- the one helmed by longtime In Flames singer Anders Fridén -- is overlooked in deference to vocalist Mikael Stanne, who's helmed all of the others and commands the stage like few other extreme metal frontmen, whether one can see him or simply hear him, as on this release. Most of his bandmates -- specifically guitarists Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson, plus drummer Anders Jivarp -- have also been there since the very start (keyboard player Martin Brändström since 1998!), and that stability breeds a meticulous cohesion to the band's performance that may actually leave some listeners craving for a little more improvisational deviation from their studio originals (even guest vocalist Nell Sigland is brought on-stage to replicate the female vocal work on "Insanity's Crescendo" and "The Mundane and the Magic"). But when this is the only real disparagement one can think of, we are clearly dealing with a superlative live album here, one that Dark Tranquillity aficionados will embrace with no reservations, and which may also serve as a solid greatest-hits collection for neophytes first investigating the group.

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