Ask any metalhead and they will tell you that the progenitors of the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound are At The Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity. These three bands created and shaped a sound that would become a staple in the metal world. In my personal opinion, At The Gates is the most metal, In Flames became the most accessible, and Dark Tranquillity was the “horror movie” of melodic death metal.
Now, these masters of metal are back with Construct, their 10th studio album. The follow up to 2010’s We Are The Void, Construct was produced by Jens Bogren, the acclaimed producer who has worked with such bands as Opeth, Leprous, Soilwork, Katatonia, and many more. With such a storied legacy as well as the clout of Bogren behind them, could Dark Tranquillity bring yet another winner to the genre? Head on below to find out!
My anticipation level was very high as the album opened with “For Broken Words”. I’ve been a fan of the band for several years, so it’s always a treat to listen to new music. However, by the time the song ended, I was filled with a sense of unease and disappointment. The song was good, that’s for sure. But it felt somewhat rushed, as though the band wanted it ready for release as soon as possible. There were some jarring transitions from heavy to melodic and vice versa, such as the end of the bridge leading back into the chorus.
Remember how I said that Dark Tranquillity was the “horror movie” of the melodic death metal genre? Perhaps no song on Construct symbolizes this more than “Uniformity”, a track that begins with gentle beauty before descending into a hellish, nightmarish soundscape. The choruses bring the beauty back with Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals ringing forth with purity. The music, alternates between beauty and sinister with each section, ultimately ending on a scary tone, as though what begins in beauty ultimately ends in tragedy.
“None Becoming” opens up sounding like something from a 70’s giallo film while “Photon Dreams” could easily be a track from some wintry, desolate horror film.
“What Only You Know” is a fantastic representation of when the album hits a strong note and everything coalesces into a fantastic track. The transitions are far smoother from heavy to melodic and back. The chorus is near majestic and soars to amazing heights. Easily my favorite track from the album.
The Final Word: Construct may very well be Dark Tranquillity’s most melodic album. It easily feels like it and expands into new territories. While it’s not always successful and it comes at the cost of not being as grab-you-by-the-throat, it has some fantastic high points. Unfortunately, it also comes with some songs that simply don’t stack up as well.