Wednesday, 4 February 2015

KEEP OF KALESSIN - EPISTEMOLOGY ALBUM REVIEW

Now a three piece following the somewhat acrimonious departure of lead vocalist Thebon back in 2013 where the band claimed he had disappeared into Africa never to return (he is alive for those curious), Keep of Kalessin return in 2015 with their brand new album "Epistemology", their first release in nearly 5 years and their first album title which I had to Google as I had no idea what the word actually meant. As it turns out, it is the study of knowledge and justified belief and just how much information on a topic can be digested before a saturation point is released and it is certainly an interesting word to have as the title of your new album. Keep of Kalessin's particular brand of thrashing melodic black metal has drawn plenty of praise in the past, especially on 2006's "Armada" and its follow up "Kolossus" from 2008 but on their 2010 release "Reptilian" there was a distinct feeling of boundary-pushing underlying a lot of the music. Whilst instrumentally it continued in the same vein of "Kolossus", i.e. speedy melodic black metal akin to the fastest moments of Dissection and Immortal, clean vocals were often found layering some of the more melodic sections of instrumentals and this is a trend continued upon "Epistemology" with an interesting set of results.

The continued integration of clean vocals into Keep of Kalessin's music initially throws the listener off-kilter somewhat on the albums true first track "The Spiritual Belief" ("Cosmic Revelation" is a classic modern metal introductory track that serves no real purpose) which see's drummer Vyl (real name Vegar Larsen) lay down some of the most furious blast beats of his career alongside clean vocals akin to the latest effort from Ensiferum. This juxtaposition of styles occasionally crops up at various points in the album but it is no more prominent than on this track and it serves as a confusing opening to an album that, upon repeated listens is surprisingly refreshing and well crafted on the whole. The artwork is equally confusing, with one feeling it would look much more at home of the cover of the upcoming Obscura or Alkaloid records, but maybe that is nothing more than a personal pet peeve. 


Epistemology; beautiful, if somewhat confused artwork

The balance is however restored on "Dark Divinity" which comes out the gates thrashing wildly in a blaze of eerie melody and powerful drumming similar to what the band were achieving on "Armada". The nature of the melody Keep of Kalessin employs on this song also helps greatly in the effectiveness of the clean vocals, lending the track a strange, sci-fi ridden vibe at points and it helps the listener really cling onto the albums first truly memorable moment. 

It should be noted at this point just how good some of the guitar work is on this album. As alluded too, whilst still very much a part of most songs on the album, the twisting black metal melodies the band became known for on "Armada" especially are usually buried at the beginning and ends of the songs, with big marching riffs dominating the majority of the songs lengths.The aforementioned "Dark Divinity" has one such riff, but rather than being a hindrance it provides a hook which helps greatly with the memorability factor of the album. A similar technique is also seen on tracks such as "Necropolis" where Obsidian Claw's black metal rasp is supported by a huge riff not too distant from what was seen on the latest Shade Empire record "Omega Arcane". 

Keep of Kalessin: Alive and still very much kicking and thrashing

After the halfway point on the album, the songs start to settle back into the formula which the band was known for in the past which both helps and hinders their memorability. The continual blast beats of Vyl are certainly impressive on a scale of technique and stamina, but part of the reason why "Necropolis" works so well as a song is that it allows other strong elements to shine through. With such a dominant focus upon the drums, the well-crafted melodic black metal leads and thick, chunky bass playing on "Universal Core" can get lost in the mix unless one really tries to pick them out and this is something which the majority of listeners, by-and-large will simply not bother to do. This also helps explain why "Introspection" is so effective as a track showing what "Epistemology" is all about. By backing away from 200bpm blast beats, it demonstrates melodies one would expect to find on classic Keep of Kalessin material as well as other blackened acts such as Thulcandra and Finntroll, alongside Obsidian Claw's black metal rasp and well-worked gang vocals. If these elements were worked into "Epistemlogy" on a greater frequency, then this release could have been spectacular. As it is, it is a good album that demonstrates the current vision of Keep of Kalessin and the style they may pursue in the future.

This is not to say "Epistemology" is a bad album. Far from it in fact. The production values really shine forth on the slower, more riff based numbers and the bands venturing into slower, more riff based and atmospheric territories works a treat when it shines through. However, with only two real defining songs on a disk that eclipses 50 minutes, the moments of magic can get lost in the mix and this only serves as detriment to an otherwise enjoyable album. If they can iron out the kinks and focus more on the unique aspects of this disk, then Keep of Kalessin could write a very special album next time round. 

7/10


Saturday, 27 July 2013

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH: THE WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN AND THE RIGHTEOUS SIDE OF HELL VOL. 1 ALBUM REVIEW

Just how far can you push anger, hate and general violence before it becomes a gimmick? This is a question that Five Finger Death Punch, touted by every non-creditable press outlet from Kerrang! to Revolver as this generations Pantera, seem to be intent on answering as they continue in their pursuit of worldwide domination. Granted, Way of the Fist was a decent american metal debut if you were a fan of the style but the trajectory from "War is the Answer" onwards has been decidedly downward looking and this is shown no better than on "The Wrong Side of Heaven...Vol. 1".

FFDP: Comic book metal


Nothing here shows an advancement on the Five Finger Death Punch sound. Only recession. Everything from the simple, chugging guitar lines, asinine lyrics and terrible artwork just stinks of cheese and whats worse is that everything feels incredibly forced. "You" is outlined by bassist Chris Kael as an apparent continuation of the sound present on The Way of the Fist which is both an insult to that albums credibility and his intelligence. That album had pounding double bass sections, good grooves and for once Ivan Moody was not including swear words in every single sentence he screamed out while "angry". This record has very little of that. "You" sounds like the garbage the band threw out on "American Capitalist" in an attempt to remain metal, with numerous uses of the f-word and variations on the lyrical concept of "not caring about you" covering up some of the bands most redundant riffs yet and a pointlessly catchy drum performance. And the less said about "Burn M.F" (three guesses what the M.F stands for) the better. 

Even the ballads on this record are completely redundant. While every single attempt at this softer song style has basically been a reworking of "The Bleeding" or "Crossing Over", they have traditionally been recognized as a strong point for this band. Not here. Quite what message the title track of this record is, is quite frankly beyond this reviewer. Moody croons about having the devil on one shoulder and god on the other and deciding right from wrong but isn't this just something called the process of living? Whats amusing, and somewhat tragic is that "M.I.N.E (End This Way)" is somehow even worse, with lyrics basically saying "I love you, you love me, oh wait no you don't". Sure, relationships are things covered by musicians all the time but when poppy backing vocals combine with terrible lyrics, the result is like a forced fart.

Five Finger Death Punch: Tat's entertainment! Okay that was a bad one...

There is absolutely no reason for this record to exist. There is nothing here that Pantera, Slipknot, Devildriver, Lamb of God, Disturbed and every other humdrum metal band hasn't already covered and in a much more authentic delivery. The only signs of half decent songs are found in "Watch You Bleed" and "Anywhere But Here" but even these sound like rehashings of "No-One Gets Left Behind" and "Hard to See".No doubt this will sell incredibly well and the band members will see a lot of fame as a result, but there is much better stuff out there written twenty years ago. Avoid

Monday, 17 June 2013

AMON AMARTH - DECEIVER OF THE GODS ALBUM REVIEW

Known by metal fans alike as probably being the most reliable melodic death metal band currently in existence alongside acts such as Dark Tranquillity and Kalmah, Amon Amarth have hacked, slashed and burned their way through their 20-odd year tenure talking about vikings, viking raids and, err, more viking related stuff. Even on their weaker albums, generally regarded as 1999's "The Avenger" and 2001's "The Avenger" there was still some good material and tales of everything Norse to keep the listener entertained. And of course, since then the trajectory for Amon Amarth has only ever been up. Better production, ventures into slower, more melancholic and more cohesive material have been trademarks of the band since 2002 when they released the excellent "Versus the World" so its time to see if "Deceiver of the Gods" (probably their best album title to date, by the way) continues this trend.

Well, if first appearances were anything to go by then no. The bands previous two releases had absolutely incredible artwork, featuring the mythical giant Surtr pillaging some poor bastards village and Thor, the god of thunder battling Jormungandr the sea serpent (three guesses as to which cover related to which album). This cover is much more simplistic and while it is still very pretty, detailing the battle of the gods and Loki at Ragnarok, it just lacks the epic nature present on the previous two records. And does the simpler cover translate to the music? Well yes and no. 

Deceiver of the Gods: Pretty, just not as good as previous efforts

The faster numbers feel much more stripped down and more akin to the faster moments of "Versus the World", only somewhat less cohesive than "Surtur Rising" but the slower songs feel much more fleshed out and developed. The band did mention how they wanted a change from Jens Bogren (Katatonia, Opeth, Symphony X) , one of extreme metals most acclaimed producers so they decided to go with Andy Sneap of Arch Enemy and Megadeth fame; so it is a little odd how a producer better known for his pacier records has pulled this feat off. Either way, there is little to complain about with a lot of the slower songs containing the biggest grooves the band has ever written, especially on album highlight "Under Siege" which has an absolutely world beating riff and one of the albums best instrumental passages halfway through. "We Shall Destroy" follows in the same suit, sounding like this albums version of "Guardians of Asgaard" with Johan Hegg utilising a slightly higher pitched vocal performance than we are used to. 

The real treats of the album are however located in the final three songs, namely "Hel" and "Warriors of the North". "Hel" features a very notable guest performance from the ex-Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin, with his vocals really complimenting the near-middle eastern atmosphere the band shroud the song in. And it really does work, layering Johan Hegg with clean vocals. "Warriors of the North" is the of the longest songs that the band has recorded and has suitable warrior rallying lyrics with a very traditional Amon Amarth sound, despite what the opening Dark Tranquillity-esque riff will have you believe. Its an excellent throwback song to what the band sounded like on "Versus the World" and "Fate of Norns" in particular with some of the records best riffs after the two-minute mark. Of the faster songs, "Father of the Wolf" is the definite highlight with an awesome chorus that basically lists off all the awesome creatures of Norse mythology. 
Amon Amarth: Do NOT steal their mead. Johan Hegg will literally tear your head off

For once, the songs with the greater pace on an Amon Amarth record are the only real problems because they are simply not that memorable. While the title track serves up a healthy dose of thrashing Norse metal, "As Loke Falls" and "Blood Eagle", despite the latter opening with what sounds like an axe splitting bone are just more Amon Amarth songs for the ages. The first half of the record is also much less memorable than the second half, but whether this is a testament to the strength of "Under Siege" onwards remains to be truly seen. 

"Deceiver of the Gods" is far from Amon Amarth's best album. But is also far from their worst. Songs such as "Hel" and "Warriors of the North" are some of the strongest songs the band has ever recorded and in "Under Siege" they have written one of their heaviest ever songs which is an achievement in itself, plus it helps the song is a definite album highlight. Its somewhat sad that the faster songs, traditionally some of the best in the bands extensive catalogue are also the weakest here but when you have tales of castles under siege and frost-bitten warriors slaying beast and man alike, its hard not to succumb to the Amon Amarth charm. Here's to another great album, chaps

7.5/10

Saturday, 8 June 2013

CHILDREN OF BODOM - HALO OF BLOOD ALBUM REVIEW

For any seasoned fan of more extreme metal circles, then Children of Bodom do not need an introduction. Becoming famous in their early formation days for playing a ferocious, yet incredibly melodic brand of death metal with more seemingly in line with Sonata Artica than Six Feet Under (not that that is necessarily a band thing) courtesy of Janne Wirman's insanely catchy keyboard melodies and Alexi Laiho's guitar skills, this Finnish five peice seem to have very slowly ran out of steam over the years. Much like the proverbial faithful old dog, the band struggled to capture their early intensive fire that saw them release albums such as "Hatebreeder" and "Follow the Reaper", regarded as two of this particular niches finest albums, especially on 2008's "Blooddrunk" (let's just say the band were certainley drunk on something when they released the somewhat half-baked affair). So enter "Halo of Blood", featuring the producer of what is generally regarded as the band strongest material (Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy for those unaware) and an album promising a much more blackened and serious approach than previous releases. 

If first impressions are anything to go by, then Children Of Bodom are certainly going about it the right way

Of course, the sound of old Bodom was still present on all of their records from "Are You Dead Yet?" onwards. It was just never there in the full force present on any album up to "Hate Crew Deathroll", instead tending to lurk in the background and occasionally rear its ugly head to provide glimmers of the part. Well, the good news initially is that this is the closest that the band has sounded to "Follow the Reaper" since, well, that album. Melodies from Laiho in particular are forced to the forefront of the bands sound, especially in extensive instrumental passages and song openings while Janne Wirman's keyboards are just placed a little further back into the mix, coming to the forefront for the bands trademark guitar/keyboard solo duels that have defined their career. Songs such as "Waste of Skin", "The Days Are Numbered" and "Scream For SIlence" all feature multiple solos and heavy hitting riffs, making the instrumentation some of the bands most impressive since "Hate Crew Deathroll". It should also be noted that sonically and both technically, this is by far the most competent drummer Jaska Raatikainen has ever sounded, especially on the title track and "Damaged Beyond Repair, almost sounding progressive in nature.. While blast beats and numerous instances of double bass are almost a trademark on Children of Bodom albums, here the drumming is tighter and much more inventive. The bass, courtesy of Henkka Seppälä is also solid and driving which helps a lot of the songs gain, or in most cases maintain momentum. 

Children of Bodom; instrumentally on top of their game

For many, the make or break point with any of the bands albums seems to be the vocals of Laiho and he once again utilises his "barking" technique (I honestly could not think of a more technical way to describe it" but the delivery is clearer than in previous outings, especially 2008's "Blooddrunk" where he was virtualy unintelligible. This actually turned out to be something of a blessing, as the vocal passages for "Lobodomy" showed;

"You motherfuckers wanna give me, a lobodomy?Fuck no, then you know who I am?Well we're about to fucking seeYou started messin with deathNo one said?I'm a ManiacFuck yeah, you have no power to ask why!
Then I will give you a turn"

If nothing else, props for adding 3 swear words into 20 seconds of music. But in all seriousness, this is actually an are that has seen some improvement. Gone are many expletives, and sure while the subject matter is still somewhat cliche'd at least it is being delivered with greater conviction and clarity. The gang vocals, typical of this subgenre are still fist-pumping enough to rile a crows, and there is even some ominous spoken word in "Dead Man's Hand On You" that sets the atmosphere for this Bodom-by-Paradise Lost affair. 

This is really something of a pleasant and unexpected surprise. This far into their career, many fans know what to expect from the band and on "Halo Of Blood", their expectations are met by the bucketload. Great instrumentation, good production courtesy of Tagtgren and an ominous blackened atmosphere lurks around a lot of the albums darker moments making everything seem more thought out and sincere than their last few studio outings which only serves to benefit the album. If the band can maintain this momentum and push forward from here, then we could all be in for even more treats. 

8/10. Halo Of Blood is out now in Europe via Nuclear Blast Records

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

MEGADETH - SUPER COLLIDER ALBUM REVIEW


Is Dave Mustaine metal's best troll? After splitting Megadeth's already dwindling fan-base with the title track from the bands fourteenth studio effort entitled, of all things "Super Collider" he then split them again by announcing David Draiman, best known for impersonating an infuriated monkey during nu-metals heady years as a guest vocalist on not one, but TWO songs on the album. Megadeth are of course no strangers to new musical ventures. After releasing two of thrash metal's most important (not to mention best) albums in "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?" and "Rust In Peace", they decided to take a melodic, more traditional heavy metal approach on albums such as "Countdown to Extinction" and "Youthanasia". Both were hard hitting and well composed metal albums, catchy enough to produce hits while heavy enough to keep Megadeth firmly planted in the "metal" category. Then came "Cryptic Writings". And "Risk". And, to a lesser extent, "The World Needs A Hero". Metal was out and rock was in, hardly surprising given the metal climate at the time and something that could probably be argued was inevitable. But the worrying thing was Megadeth had seemed to loose their fire, their drive. 

Now one string Megadeth have always been able to have to their bow is that they have been putting out decent material on a regular basis in the 21st century with some of the said fire re-bottled, unlike the other members of the so-called "big four". Slayer, until the recent tragic passing of Jeff Hanneman seemed more intent on internal conflicts than producing new music and Metallica produced one of metal's worst albums in St Anger and one of metal's worst produced major albums in "Death Magnetic". "Worship Music" was an excellent disk from Anthrax but it was 8 years in the making. The real test will be whether that band can actually stay together for one (something already hanging in the balance), and write just as good an album in the process. After the pinnacle of their comeback period, 2009's "Endgame" Megadeth announced the return of original and longest serving bassist Dave Ellefson. To many fans this signaled a move even further in the right direction  but "Super Collider's" predecessor, 2011's "Th1rt3en" but that was a record of two halves. One full of good, but unnecessary rerecorded material from the bands classic line-up era and one of mid-tempo, somewhat boring metal. So is this album a return to the bands previous fine form, or was "Th1rt3en" a sign of things to come?

"Super Collider". Is it a scientific term for trippy as all balls?

The album opener "Kingmaker" seems to suggest the former. After an eerie opening of echoing bass lines, it blasts full force into a selection of riffs that, while being far from the bands most technically demanding material is still a good opener continuing the trend established on post-millennial Megadeth openers such as "Sleepwalker" and "Never Dead". Fast, aggressive and multiple solo's. But its a false start, signaled as soon as the albums title track and "Risk" b-side begins to play. This is the worst song Megadeth has released in a while and is also the most marketed one from the album thus far, leading many to question whether claims of the record sounding akin to "Peace Sells" and "Countdown" was merely the band's illusions of self grandeur. Where they?

Well not entirely but this is once again an ordinary effort from Mustaine and co. with one good song outweighed by two mediocre ones. "Kingmaker", as talked about is a decent opener for the album. "Burn" is instrumentally okay but the lyrics when removed of the music sound like something Liberty X or any other turn of the millenia pop-artists would sing about:

Burn baby burn!
'Cos it feels so good!
Burn baby burn!
Like I knew it would

Funnily enough, in the same song Mustaine admits he has "a desire to burn". Down in flames? If this record is any evidence to go by, most probably. 

And now for a controversial statement. I like the song "Dance In The Rain", featuring David Draiman of Disturbed the most. I will let that sink in before continuing. And its not by a small margin either. Its by far the best song here. Dark, moody and introspective, this has something resembling the Megadeth of old, especially their "Countdown to Extinction" days combined with more modern records such as "Endgame". Draiman's part in the song is not even substantial, its essentially four lines in the song during its climax when the song speeds up significantly and his vocals are also pushed backwards into the mix. Once again, this great little number is followed with an absolute clunker in "Beginning of Sorrow" which seems like the albums attempt at "In My Darkest Hour" with none of the conviction of emotion. "The Blackest Crow" is an odd but interesting piece, featuring slide guitar and is once again a little darker, with the proverbial crow seeming to be an ex-whim who screwed Mustaine over. And "Don't Turn Your Back" is a decent enough closer, being one of the faster songs present with some nice instrumentation. 

"Hey, we're Megadeth and we love puppies and marshmallows"

The biggest problem on this record, as alluded to in the song "Burn!" (seriously, who puts exclamation marks in their titles? Oh, wait...) is in the vocals. Both delivery wise and lyrically. Mustaine can believe in whatever he wants and at least he is upfront about what it. But some of the lyrical content present on "Super Collider" is laughable and at some points tragic. The section from "Burn!" above is just one of many lyrical cliches lying throughout the album, which range from substance abuse (Kingmaker) to lost friends (Don't Turn Your Back) and to starting a war (Built For War) which is, at some (edit: make that multiple) points downright hilarious. And these are all the albums stronger songs instrumentally. When mixed with a song such as the title track or "Beginning of Sorrow" it just makes you wonder as a listener whether Mustaine actually listened to this album from front to back before releasing it to his new record label. His melodic high range he became known for is devoid on this record but given Mustaine's recent health problems this is hardly a surprise. Drover's drumming is also incredibly mechanical and lifeless, but this nowadays almost goes without saying. The same snare hits, fills and bass patterns are all over the record which definitely doesn't help but in truth, the whole band sounds half assed. 

Megadeth has always been Mustaine's vision and it always will be. Trying to dispute this fact would be like trying to convince Lars Ulrich that "Death Magnetic's" production is, in fact absolutely terrible. But it is no surprise that musically, some of the strongest songs on the album also feature credits from the other band members or bring new factors to the Megadeth sound. At its core, "Super Collider" is not a terrible album. It is just incredibly sub-par compared to the bands previous five records, with lifeless production courtesy of Johnny K who seems incapable of getting a substantial guitar sound and lifeless riffs courtesy of Mustaine. Based on this evidence, Megadeth's claim as the most relevant of the big four is in serious jeopardy. 

5/10

"Super Collider" will be available on June 4th

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

DARK TRANQUILLITY - "CONSTRUCT" ALBUM REVIEW



Dark Tranquillity, more well known to many as the last of the Gothenburg big three that anyone gives two hoots about anymore since In Flames decided to release radio-friendly crap and At the Gates stopped making music some 18 years ago. Oddly for a melodic death metal band, they have also managed to fill up their catalogue with very solid enjoyable material; even their transition records "Haven" and "Projector" still contain stellar cuts of music that ranks up there with the 5 pieces strongest work. 



2010's "We Are The Void" was an interesting affair for all the wrong reasons. Gone was the strong tremolo riffing and winding melody, instead replaced by gothic keyboards and less interesting song structures, especially in the records first half. While "Iridium" was a chilling piece hearkening back to the bands darker days present upon the masterful "The Gallery" and "The Minds Eye", most of the joy was found in the "Zero Distance" extended play that featured 5 cuts of music removed from the album. Alongside the catchy title track was the brilliant "Out Of Gravity" that sounded more sincere and developed than the whole album save for "Iridium" as well as the brilliant instrumental "Star Of Nothingness". So enter "Construct", described in press releases as the groups most diverse album since "Projector", which became renown for the bands most prominent use of clean vocals and progressive tendencies yet. It was also an excellent disk so many were immediately excited. 
And the award for the most boring and nondescript artwork of 2013 goes too...


The three tracks that were released before the whole album showed a lot of promise, especially "For Broken Words" which sounds a lot like "Out of Gravity" mixed with one of the stronger songs from the previous effort, "Iridium". Mix with some tremolo picking akin to "The Minds Eye" and even melodic black metal and you begin to get the idea. And while "The Science of Noise" was very much Dark Tranquillity doing what Dark Tranquillity do best, it was a solid song much more reminiscent of "Fiction" than "We Are The Void". "Uniformity" was the most projector sounding song, featuring long, drawn out melodies and a prominent use of clean vocals in the chorus. So all looked good. And then you listen to the album as a whole. 


I will start by saying "What Only You Know" is one of the worst songs the band has recorded in a while. It has absolutely no direction and the transitions from light to dark (clean to harsh vocals especially) sound incredibly lumpy. I always liked Stanne when he dropped in some excellent Depeche-Mode vocals in his work but this song sounds incredibly forced. Also, the track placing seems off. While it makes sense to place a song such as "For Broken Words" at the beginning of the record to signal a new path being forged, placing "None Becoming" after "Weight of the End" seems somewhat odd. Because the latter sounds like a much better ending track and because, as far as ending tracks go then "None Becoming" is just not very good. "We Are The Void" had the brilliant "Iridium", "Fiction" had "The Mundane and the Magic" while "Character" closed with "My Negation" which summed up that whole album brilliantly. "None Becoming" does none of this. While far from terrible, it just doesn't fit right with the flow of the album, something more upbeat and dark like "Weight of the End" with its shifting dynamics would have been much more effective. 
Dark Tranquillity: Cheery Chappies obviously

When Dark Tranquillity actually play to their strengths and spread their wings however, the result is more than satisfying. "For Broken Words" is incredibly atmospheric and tells the listener almost immediately they are in for something a little bit different. "Apathetic" has blackened choruses not sounding too dissimilar to bands such as Dissection on their final studio outing and a pissed version of "Amon Amarth", while "Endtime Hearts" is probably the strongest song overall. Setting out at a fair pace with an excellent mixing of the sound present on "Character" with the blackened atmosphere that the album possesses, this is Dark Tranquillity at their brooding best. 

As far as individual member performances go, then surprise surprise Mikael Stanne's vocals are as strong as ever. On "Endtime Hearts" he combines a full death metal roar with nice mixes of his higher harsh register with sinister whispering in the pre-chorus, while "Uniformity" is one of his stronger showings in clean vocals. Sundin and Henriksson on guitar are much more present than in "We Are The Void", returning to tremolo picking which contributes to the more sinister atmosphere rather well while Anders Jivarp has a strong outing on the drums, slotting into the rythmn section very well. The bass is somewhat non-descript but it was never a focal point in Dark Tranquillity's music anyway so no major qualms. Jens Bogren's mixing is also very good, bringing clarity out in the guitar and vocals while keeping the synth work and bass bubbling away in the background. 

Overall, this is a strong album from Dark Tranquillity and is undoubtedly better than their previous effort. It is also more engaging than "Haven" and at times, probably a little better than "Character". But it is far from their best work. ou can clearly tell the effort has been put in and when the record works, it is excellent. But there are just too many bumps in the road, just one or two too many forgettable songs to make this an instant classic. Its not even the best melodic death metal album of the year. Dark Tranquillity fans and In Flames detractors alike will lapse this up and call it truly amazing. For many, this is just another strong outing from a strong band, adding another strong addition to their catalogue. 


7.25/10



"Construct" is unleashed on May 27th via Century Media