Released: 2013, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, Dark Tranquillity were one Swedish melodic death metal band who never really did a whole lot for me. But I find myself quite liking their 10th and latest album Construst, even though – or perhaps because – it might be the least death metally release of their nearly 25-year career.
There's definitely plenty of “melodic” going on here, but within a sound that feels a bit more Paradise Lost-like goth-metal, especially in the melancholic way the album opens, with the somber “For Broken Words” which is dense with atmosphere and drama. Ditto the very keyboard throb of “Uniformity.”
While “The Science of Noise” delivers a break-neck midsection, it isn't until “The Silence In Between” that the tempos finally begin to surge and guitars grow more assertive. “Apathetic” keeps the ball rolling in that direction before the band begin an ebb and flow with “What Only You Know” with bracing verses and big, riffy choruses tempered by moody swells and frontman Mikael Stanne's occasional clean singing.
Control, overall, is still a fairly heavy album, but with its emphasis on dark melody and depth it is less threatening than the band's prior efforts. And though Stanne growls 90 percent of his vocals, they often are measured and seem more about emotion than menace.
Despite the rather radical departure from the sonic norm by Dark Tranquillity, Construct in no way sounds forced, contrived or desperate. The band certainly aren't chasing hit singles here, otherwise the tone would be less morose or there would be far more emphasis on inviting hooks. Nor do they all of a sudden seem to be struggling to find their footing, because the material sounds natural and focused – it's just different. And quite good.