Dark Tranquillity - Fiction (Century Media Records) - Back
It is difficult to think about melodic death metal without thinking of Dark Tranquillity. Along with At The Gates and In Flames, they were pioneers of the genre in the mid 1990's. At The Gates are long gone and In Flames have strayed rather far afield in recent times, Dark Tranquillity on the other hand have stayed the course, continuing to develop and push the boundaries of the genre that they helped create. Every couple of years they release an album and I am reminded exactly how good this type of music can be, when done properly. "Fiction" is very similar to Dark Tranquillity's previous two releases, meaning that it melds some of the progressive elements of the band’s mid-period with the aggressive approach of their earlier releases. In my opinion, the band has perfected this formula on "Fiction" making it the best of the three.

"Fiction" built on fast, razor-sharp, riffs coupled with melodic sections that have a darker almost melancholy feel. Mikael Stanne's distinct, acidic growl is a key element, he manages to convey a great deal of emotion with his voice, each line is delivered with a frantic sense of urgency. Keyboards, while playing an important role in most of the songs, are used to accent the music, adding depth rather than taking center stage. On the surface, "Fiction" has an angry, aggressive sound, however darker more depressing ideas are found when delving into the songs more deeply. By off setting the aggression with a darker mood, the band conveys the idea that they actually have something to be angry about; adding a sense of purpose that is lacking on many similar albums. In my opinion, the production is perfect for this type of music. "Fiction" has a crisp and clear sound, but maintains just enough of an organic feel to keep the album from sounding sterile.

At this point, the metal scene is so full of mid-level talent playing some variant of melodic death metal that the genre is practically drowning in it’s own vomit. It is nice to see one of the originators of the style step up and put out an album that is truly worthwhile. "Fiction" is a resounding smack in the face, and should serve as a wake up call to an industry that has flooded the market to it’s breaking point with this type of music. Although it would be difficult for me to place this above Dark Tranquillity’s influential early albums, a convincing argument could be made for "Fiction" being the band’s finest work.

Rating:
97

Reviewed By: Garett F.