Dark Tranquillity - _Fiction_
(Century Media, 2007)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
When a band has been around for almost eighteen years, actually being successful and at the top of their league for at least twelve of them, it begs the question of what to do next in order to avoid stagnation. _Fiction_ is Dark Tranquillity's album number eight, and it is a great collection of melodic and aggressive death metal songs; but it fails to answer the pertinent question above.For someone who has been following the band since their first steps, _Fiction_ will sound like the culmination of the last three or four albums. Carefully crafted songs that are aggressive but not too fast, infused with melody and great riffing. The keyboards are always in the background, and this time around with a slight hint of electronic darkness. Sprinkled throughout the album are well placed leads that will quicken your heart beat for a few seconds, but never make you shit your pants (I yearn for another "Punish My Heaven" attack).Oddly enough, Stanne decides to do some clean singing again in "Misery's Crown" and "The Mundane and the Magic", with the latter also adorned by some nice female vocals. His tone is more darkwave and gothic this time, especially in comparison to his clean vocals in _Projector_ and _Haven_, but it sounds great nevertheless. For me this move is very welcome, as I have always been a fan of his clean vocals. However great his growling is -- and it is one of the best around -- it gets very monochromatic.The album definitely has some killer tracks, like "The Lesser Faith" and "Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)": both fast, melodic and very catchy. On the other hand, "Icipher" builds atmosphere while maintaining a firm grasp of sadness without being melodramatic, whereas "Inside the Particle Storm" expands even more in atmospheric realms and even adds some phased and chaotic riffing. "Empty Me" sounds too much like previous Dark Tranquillity songs, and the closing track fails to capture me like _Character's_ "My Negation", or even better, the furious "On Your Time" from _Projector_.On the technical side, there are few other bands that have as much skill and talent as Dark Tranquillity, and this album is still an audible testament to that. Every note is performed to perfection and no instrument is fighting with another for prime time. To this, add top notch production and expert mastering.In conclusion, _Fiction_ will not disappoint and is a fine addition to the band's catalogue of releases. It has a number of great and memorable songs, atmosphere, skill and variation. But if you are looking for anything new, any sort of progress to the elements they have perfected in the last few albums, anything that will blow your socks off, unfortunately you will not find it here. At the same time, I cannot fault the album for what it is not. So, how much this lack of innovation will bug you, is up to you.
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