Games Meet Metal: Poser or Powerhouse?: Dark Tranquility - We Are the Void

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Poser or Powerhouse?: Dark Tranquility - We Are the Void

Dark Tranquility's We Are the Void is another album that takes the motto "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to heart. If 3 Inches of Blood's Here Waits Thy Doom is all about the energy, these tunes are all about the atmosphere. And that atmosphere is why this band has one of the most appropriate names ever: it's dark and tranquil as shit.

First off, the vocals are almost always worthy of "hell spawn creature that it just so happens speaks English you can understand" territory, occasionally veering off into what sounds like Type O Negative's lead singer: a smooth, deep voice that is probably used to seduce gothic chicks at seances. Along with the fatalistic lyrics, it pretty much guarantees every song sounds like it could be used to summon the great Satan for Critter Christmas. Point is, whether he's screeching depressing platitudes or crooning to zombies, the lead singer keeps things dark.

The tranquil part comes in with the heavy use of piano in most choruses. While the guitars and drums pound speedily along in the verses, they usually slow down for what truly is some beautiful keyboarding work. Much of the album sounds along the lines of some of the softer (metal softer, not Elten John softer mind you) tunes from Ill Nino's Confessions album, if the boys from Nino had added a few more solos on top of those bar chords and the Spanish accented lead singer was replaced with a really pissed off Norwegian dude.

Tracks like "Shadow In Our Blood" and "Dream Oblivion" do a great job of being heavy, Halloween ready jams, but it's the borderline gothic love song feel of stuff like "In My Absence" that carries most of the tracks. I have no problem with that, but while I enjoyed pretty much all the songs I'll admit I was pretty much done reviewing about halfway through, and I didn't run into any curve balls towards the end.

Overall: Dark Tranquility shows that it certainly knows what it's doing as far as producing great heavy, gothic, atmospheric music with appropriately eerie lyrics, but it fails to deviate enough from this formula to really make We Are the Void feel like a complete effort. Still, it's good enough at its craft that the CD warrants a 3.75, which is just a quarter step away from being Rippin'.

Pros: Great vocal, piano work help to make dark, atmospheric songs work very well
Cons: Not exactly full of surprises

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