Sunday, 1 November 2009

CD Review: Character, by Dark Tranquillity (2005)


There isn't much that is wrong with Character, the 7th CD from Sweden's Dark Tranquillity. The problem is, there isn't much on the CD that gets the blood to stir, either.

For the most part, Character delivers well-played, professional, serviceable, mid-tempo metal driven by large chords on the keyboards and the growly vocals of Mikael Stanne. There is a polish about the song writing and the delivery that comes from a band that is confident and comfortable in its sound, but there is also the distinct smell that hints at a lack of innovation and a scarcity of new ideas.

Seven CDs and a 12 year recording career can be a long time. On Character, Dark Tranquillity's melodies are adequate but mostly forgettable. The guitar work is barely on the interesting side of bland, and lacks any adventure. And the drums and bass just fade into the background.

In fact, almost the entire CD melds into one long song that has all the emotional impact of relatively bland wall-paper. If modern day heavy metal has the equivalent of elevator music, it may sound like this. The heavy metal world moves along rapidly, and while Dark Tranquillity were among the main contributors to Sweden's heavy metal success in the 1990's, their music now sounds predominantly stagnant.

The solid opener The New Build soon gives way to a series of soundalike songs, but right in the heart of the CD, Dark Tranquillity stumble onto some spirited grooves on the trio of Lost to Apathy, Mind Matters and One Thought, and these three tracks hint at what the band can still deliver when they break free of their comfort zone. Unfortunately, Character soon drowns right back into a sea of sameness that can best be described as...tranquil.


Band:

Mikael Stanne - Vocals
Martin Henriksson - Guitars
Niklas Sundin - Guitars
Michael Nicklasson - Bass
Anders Jivarp - Drums
Martin Brandstrom - Electronics


Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. The New Build - 8
2. Through Smudged Lenses - 7
3. Out of Nothing - 7
4. The Endless Feed - 7
5. Lost to Apathy - 8
6. Mind Matters - 9
7. One Thought - 8
8. Dry Run - 7
9. Am I 1? - 7
10. Senses Tied - 7
11. My Negation - 7

Average: 7.45

Mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom. Produced by Dark Tranquillity.
Mastered by Peter In de Betou.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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