Since their earliest formations in 1990, Dark Tranquillity have been at the fore of the metal scene in Sweden. The band helped form one of the most prolific and popular genres, melodic death metal, with longtime friends and rivals, At The Gates and In Flames. Now, in present day metal, these three bands have all gone their separate paths, with At The Gates broken up, In Flames labeled sell-outs by some die hard fans as they drift further into the mainstream and Dark Tranquillity staying (fairly) true to their melo death stylings.
With eight studio albums down, DT have their ninth, We Are The Void, in the can. All the trademark DT aspects are there, solid riffs, moody keyboards, Mikael Stanne’s raspy vocals and the interplay of heavy and light passages. Musically, the band is quite talented and consistently display it throughout the album. Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson have mastered the melodic death metal riff, and provide the backbone of the album.
The one thing that ultimately mires the album is an underwhelming feeling. Not to be confused with unoriginality, We Are The Void has plenty new to offer old and new fans alike. There are simply no hooks to the album. It doesn’t engage the listener at any point.
Subtly, the band has changed from album to album, placing more or less emphasis on various aspects of their music. With We Are The Void, the keyboard aspect has moved into the fore. This renewed emphasis, does more harm than good, especially when the tones start to sound processed, skirting closer to an industrial sound, which does not serve the band’s sound well.
After years of growling, Mikael Stanne’s voice is starting to show signs of wear. Although death metal isn’t known for dynamic vocal ranges. Stanne showed an impressive ability to add texture to the music with slight changes in delivery and pitch, alternating from heavy to clean vocals. However, now his vocals are limited, and stay within a standard growl and somewhat monotone clean vocal.
There is nothing truly bad about We Are The Void, but there is nothing that makes the album standout from the band’s strong discography. An average album at best.