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Another solid release from the melodic death metal masters,
This review is from: Character (Audio CD)
Having never released a weak or uninspired album since 1995 (The Gallery), Dark Tranquillity come back with another melodic death metal masterpiece in 2005's "Character".
"Character" is in a way a back to the roots album for the band. The speed of their first three albums comes back to the songwriting together with Stanne's higher pitched death metal vocals. The album grabs the listener from the first seconds and never let's go. Fast drum speeds, with the inclusion of lot's of double bass and several blast beats, melodic-sharp-heavy guitar riffs, several guitar leads and solos, some memorable bass lines and screaming vocals, characterize the whole direction of this album.
There are some really shinny tracks to be found on Character. "The New Build" is the perfect album opener. After a few drum fills a fast blast beat backed by heavy yet melodic riffing give way to Stanne's screaming vocals. The song maintains its fast pace throughout with fast and slower sharp guitar riffs succeeding one another. "Lost To Apathy" is certainly the most catchy track to be found here. While being fast and aggressive it is greatly enriched by infectious melodic riffing, some remarkable death vocals and an amazing chorus followed by melodic guitar tapping. "Mind Matters" is also another catchy tune with a very melodic, bouncy type, intro guitar riff. My favorite track though is "Dry Run". Sharp riffing, varying drumming with sparse double bass drum fills provide the backbone for Stanne's most memorable vocal performance on the album. Keys on the other hand elevate the track to another atmospheric dimension throughout the chorus. But the best part comes in the 2:10 minute mark were sharp riffs heard from one speaker at a time are enriched with nice guitar leads, great cymbal work and low range almost whispering vocals. This is the best track by far in my opinion.
But besides those tracks mentioned above, the rest kind of fall short. 'Character' definitely has its weaknesses, although hardcore death metal fans and Dark Tranquillity fans will never admit to it. Due to the fast pace of almost all tracks and the sharp guitar riffing (which sounds very similar in some instances), the album sounds kind of monotonous. On the other hand, there are some truly amazing songs (the ones mentioned above) succeeded by considerably weaker ones and that isn't a good thing. The last flaw lies with Stanne's vocal delivery. Although I believe that the guy is the most outstanding vocalist in the genre, he doesn't impress me on this release. For some reason he doesn't sing so deep and heavy as on the two previous albums (Damage Done, Haven) he rather follows the approach of the vocals he used in 'The Gallery' and 'The Minds I', which is a higher pitched death-black vocal delivery. Admitably his voice doesn't sound so great nor unique in that short of pitch, he should have tried to blend the two techniques together...
Someone may argue that the faults I'm mentioning are nit picking, in a way, or personal preferences. Well for me they count a great deal and hold back 'Character' from being better than 'Damage Done' for example. Nevertheless Dark Tranquillity should be applauded for making a back to the roots, heavier, faster and rawer album and thus keeping the tradition of altering their sound on every release. All the faults of this album will be diminished and perfected on their next release 'Fiction', but this is another review...