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Dark Tranquillity
March 2002
Released: 1993, Spinefarm Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Cid

Hidden Gem Review

Dark Tranquillity’s debut album, tight, passionate, fast, powerful, emotion ridden, it is a masterpiece. Many people will be at a loss of words when you ask them what they think is the best NWOSDM album. THE GALLERY, SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL, THE JESTER RACE and MIRRORWORLDS come up as very frequent answers, but as far as I know, most of the people I have asked this very difficult question have answered SKYDANCER. The album is just a blend of everything that is the Gothenburg style of Death Metal.

The opener “Nightfall at the shore of time” sends you into a frenzy of high-speed super technical composition with a very harsh black/death vocal courtesy of Anders Friden. Next is “Crimson Winds”, a very melodic intro that swiftly becomes a barrage of super fast technical playing that incorporates intricate melodies and harmonies that most people can’t manage to grasp at first. These two tracks alone are exactly how I would define the Gothenburg sound. Fast, furious, emotional, melodic, intricate and very powerful in all. You might argue that many bands could have done similar songs, and maybe you’re right. But these guys set are the stepping-stones for every band that followed.

One of my all time favorite songs comes next. “A Bolt of Blazing Gold” gives us a very specific idea of what Dark Tranquillity are all about. The guitar intro is just absolutely beautiful. I remember the first time I heard this song I couldn’t stop playing it for a long time. The song is adorned with lyrics that come nothing short of poetic, and as the song progresses and the music swallows you whole into a crunching pace with the super harsh vocal work of Friden, you hear the beautiful voice of Anna-Kaisa Avehall merge into the song to perform a duet with the now In Flames singer.

I could go on and on telling you all about songs like the beautifully arranged “Through Ebony Archways”, the intense “Shadow Duet”, the super fast “My Faeryland Forgotten” or the emotional “Alone, but the wonderful thing about SKYDANCER is that every time you listen to it you can be swallowed whole by both the music and the emotions that are embedded in this masterpiece of an album. Every single song in here leaves something inside me, some strong feeling of uniqueness that sticks with me even after all these years. To fully understand why I love this album so much, you need to experience it for yourself, I can assure you beyond any doubts that you will relish in the beautiful gift Dark Tranquillity have presented the world with.

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