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Go to the Dark Tranquillity website  Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done [Century Media - 2002]

Once upon a time Dark Tranquillity had a gold membership in the “Big 4” of the Swedish Melodic Metal scene, also known as the Gothenburg Sound. Unlike In Flames that pretty much turned into a snooze-fest, At The Gates that died of natural causes and Edge of Sanity that keeps on the appearance of life even now that Mr. “Driving Force” Swanö left and clinical death has been confirmed, Dark Tranquillity stayed relevant and even explored a little (mostly on Projector), moving away from the sound they helped create by incorporating clean vocals and a bit of a Depeche Mode influence. The band didn’t seem happy about this change – or maybe they are totally whipped by their fans? – and went back to harsh vocals and a bit more crunch on their fifth album, Haven. They also pushed further the synthesizer use and tightened up the song-writing so that the exhaustive melodic explorations of their earlier material were all but gone. That brings us to their new one: Damage Done.

Stylistically speaking, it sounds like a cross between “Haven” and “The Mind’s I”. It still has the synthesizers and song-writing economy of the previous album but the way they use more twin guitar harmonies and construct the melodies reminds me, at times, of pre-Projector albums. What we get is a consistent batch of songs, no real high or low point, with very professional production and accomplished playing but it lacks that extra something to make it really great. Maybe it’s just bad timing? I’m sure that if they had released something this secure and convincing a few years ago it’d have sounded really special and unique, but now we are only left with a very solid album – better than most in the genre – that should please Dark Tranquillity fans but without making really big waves or spawning hordes of clones. Not a revolution but a welcome continuation.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

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