Dark Tranquillity - The Gallery review
|Release date:||November 1995|
01. Punish My Heaven
02. Silence, And The Firmament Withdrew
04. The Dividing Line
05. The Gallery
06. The One Brooding Warning
07. Midway Through Infinity
09. The Emptiness From Which I Fed
10. Mine Is the Grandeur...
11. ... Of Melancholy Burning
12. Bringer Of Torture [Kreator cover] [Special Deluxe Edition bonus]
13. Sacred Reich [Sacred Reich cover] [Special Deluxe Edition bonus]
14. 22 Acacia Avenue [Iron Maiden cover] [Special Deluxe Edition bonus]
15. Lady In Black [Mercyful Fate cover] [Special Deluxe Edition bonus]
16. My Friend Of Misery [Metallica cover] [Special Deluxe Edition bonus]
This is obviously my favourite album of my favourite band. So you can easily imagine that I only have nice things to say about it. So, why does this album reach perfection? Why is it, in my opinion, the best melodic death metal album ever released? Simply because it is the manifest of a band that perfectly masters its music, and above all that loves what it is doing. You can feel such love for the metal in general all along the eleven tracks of this work. It is actually the first real album of the band after the departure of the previous singer Anders Friden, gone to found their Swedish mates of In Flames. So this is also the first album with Mikael Stanne, former guitarist, on the vocals, after the EP Of Chaos and Eternal Night.
What makes Dark Tranquillity unique in the midst of all the other metal bands is its capacity to remain melodic, but with a melody on the verge of progressive metal, while they are unleashing all the violence they have in theirselves. This allegation is stunning just at the beginning of the first track 'Punish my heaven', with its intro on keyboards and the dual of guitars that come after. But then, prepare for war, this song is one of the most intense they have ever written, and also maybe one of the most technical and hard to play. About technique and the musicians, there is absolutely nothing more to say but this only word: perfect. You just don't realize at first how good these guys are, because they don't try to impress anyone or to show out themselves, unlike some prog musicians that when you hear their band, you imagine them saying: 'Hey! Look at me I'm a guitar hero!'. But then you notice that the songwriting is so good [courtesy of Mikael Stanne and Nicklas Sundin] that you just can't find anything to say against these guys. Special congratulations to Anders Jivarp, who is a real drum hero.
'Punish my heaven' also shows out a bit of the ability of Stanne with a clear voice. The short 'Silence, and the firmament withdrew' and the violent and intense 'Edenspring' are really representative of what a melodic death band has to do to reach the essence of artistic creation and the excellence that most bands are searching for all along their career without ever finding. Then comes 'The dividing line' with its heavy riff and its stunning chorus, just before 'The Gallery', with some female vocals fighting against the growlings of Mikael Stanne, that seems to be the best written and the most melodic side of the album. After 'The one brooding warning' and 'Midway through infinity' is the jewel of Dark Tranquillity, the song that will remain in my mind as the best power ballad they could make, I mean 'Lethe'. Everything in this song, as much the melodic clean guitars as the desperate voice remind of the loss of a beloved person... This is maybe the best vocal performance of this great singer: he really manages to give a feeling of anger, sadness, misery and the impossibility to forget. Even the lyrics show this fight between infinite and painful love and the hate you can feel for the person you are addicted to. So, probably the best song of this opus. The problem of the next song 'The emptiness from which I fed' is that it comes right after 'Lethe': you are usually so dazed that you hear this song more than you listen to it... but after all this is also a very good one, and even maybe one of the best. The last two tracks actually can be gathered in a single, for 'Mine is the grandeur...' is an introduction to '... Of melancholy burning'. This closing track is sort of very interesting: the intro all on acoustic guitars, remind of the instrumental songs of In Flames, and the timpani, the drums of hell add an epic and folkloric dimension, just like when you hear Asian drums for example... And the song that comes after also remains of their mates In Flames, for the melody brought by the guitars. This is a clinic of songwriting, with the acoustic break enhanced by the beautiful voice of Eva- Marie Larsson, soon drowned under Stanne's screams. After this break, a passage sounds like the previous 'Lethe', before the apotheosis, the fireworks of violence with the first riff that is here accelerated. The acoustic guitar of the end sound like you've just travelled through fantasy land that Tolkien or Eddings wouldn't have denied.
And you stay here, lying on your couch, empty, tired, melancholic but happy, this happiness that proves you have just discovered something really magnificent and enormous. For any melodic death metal fan, this album has to be a kind of bible, a flag under which the adepts of excellence must rally. Make your choice, but know this: this album is the story of perfection, and even the front cover is beautiful... A good sign?
Highlights: Punish My Heaven, Lethe, ... Of Melancholy Burning
|Caution! Cult album ahead. "The Gallery" is to Melodic Death Metal what "Images And Words" is to Progressive Metal, if not more. The essence of Sweden delivered by Dark Tranquillity is simply grandiose. The duo of singers Mikael Stanne-Anders Friden blows everything in its path while emblematic songs keep playing in your shitty CD player. I'll have to visit Gothenburg one day, as a pilgrim of Holy Metalness, I'm serious!
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