With the change in seasons, and Autumn leading into Winter, the dark, miserable days are a fertile breeding ground for Swedish melodic death metal, perfect times for a new Dark Tranquillity album really. ‘Moment’ is their first since 2016’s ‘Atoma’, and the first with a new line-up which features two axe-men (Christopher Amott and Johan Rheinholdz) replacing founding guitarist Niklas Sundin.
The introduction of a twin-guitar attack hasn’t seemed to have brought any problems as the pair of Amott and Rheinholdz slot in seamlessly. In places, the guitars sizzle; opener ‘Phantom Days’ has the pair mixing it up with different styles and tempos with a wonderfully melodic dual-solo; ‘Identical To None’ has powerful crunching riffs over a lighter solo during the intro, before settling down to a Maiden-esque vibe; and the varying tones on ‘A Drawn Out Exit’ thrill with each listen. Considering that the pair have been live guitarists with the Swedes since 2017, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have bedded in so well. A fair assumption would be that the pair will play a larger role on the next album.
Mikael Stanne is arguably one of the top three death metal vocalists around at the minute, his growls are still as potent today as they ever have been. But it’s his clean vocals that seem to have improved over the last few years. ‘The Dark Unbroken’ is a magical goth-metal moment where Stanne melds both vocal styles to great effect. ‘Remain In The Unknown’ quickly follows on with ultra-clean vocals from Stanne there from the off. Long-time death metal fans might balk at the notion of clean vocals but when they are as potent and as atmospheric, as they are here, then there shouldn’t be an issue. With the gothy keyboard sound from Martin Brändström sprinkling some magical dust over proceedings, Stanne’s vocals sound as evergreen as ever, especially on the soaring ‘Standstill’ and stunning closing track, the growl-free, ‘In Truth Divided’.
All this talk of clean vocals might suggest that Dark Tranquility have somehow watered their sound down, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The opening salvo of ‘Phantom Days’, ‘Transient’, and ‘Identical To None’ is quite a powerful ten minutes or so, with solid work from the backbone of the band; bassist Anders Iwers and one of the most criminally overlooked drummers in metal – Anders Jivarp. ‘Failstate’ keeps up the faster tempo, as does ’Empires Lost to Time’ in places.
‘Moment’ is a strong, confident album that will no doubt ruffle a few feathers amongst the Dark Tranquillity faithful, DT in 2020 are an altogether more mature vehicle best summed up by one YouTube comment on the recent video for ‘Eyes Of The World’:
“DT is the type of band that you fall in love with their music when you are a teenager with long hair, and keep listening to them when you lose the hair and begin to grow a grey beard…”
Available now through Century Media Records, purchase here.
Review – Dave