Oct 142016



(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity.)

Broadly speaking, Dark Tranquillity’s career has been one characterised by successive sequences of sudden reinvention and steady refinement, with every major breakthrough followed in turn by a corresponding period of careful, if somewhat less impressive, polishing and fine-tuning.

It’s a pretty obvious pattern in hindsight. The early success of The Gallery was followed by The Mind’s I… the melodic, proggy proclivities of Projector were the jumping-off point for Haven… and then Damage Done, probably the biggest metamorphosis in the band’s career, in turn gave us both the oft-underrated Character and the (arguably) somewhat overrated Fiction.

Unfortunately it’s around this time that things get a little tricky, and we enter what has become a bit of a sensitive area for some fans, as there’s an argument – and not an unreasonable one – that the band have been stuck in something of a rut ever since, repeating the same old formula, to ever-diminishing creative (if not commercial) returns.

For although Character was, in my opinion at least, a worthy enough follow-up to Damage Done, Fiction was effectively just a brace of crowd-pleasing singles surrounded by a wealth of generally solid, but not necessarily stunning, material. And while We Are The Void hinted in places (such as the icy, blackened “Arkhangelsk” and the darkly atmospheric “Iridium”) at burgeoning changes to come, neither it, nor the disappointingly average Construct, managed to capitalise on this potential in order to fully reignite the band’s creative fires.

So the question now is, does Atoma signal another long-awaited, and long-overdue, renaissance from the Gothenburg alchemists? Continue reading »

Sep 292016

Photo by Dirk Behlau


I intended to prepare a round-up much earlier this week than I have, but commitments to write premieres plus interferences from my fucking day job screwed those plans. So, I’m behind once again. Catching up isn’t realistic, but I’m going to make a stab at it anyway by doing a two-part Seen and Heard.

In this first installment I’m giving a tip of the hat to two widely popular bands — and no, Metallica isn’t one of them, though if you want to talk about the new Metallica track in the Comments, feel free. Then we’ll dive deeper into the underground with the final two bands in this group (with help from our contributor Grant Skelton).

The second installment, at least as I’ve planned it (because it’s not written yet), will be devoted to perhaps even more obscure and ferocious new music. But I do also have a couple of premieres to prepare for today, plus my day job isn’t leaving me alone… so there’s a chance Part 2 will slip.


Earlier this week Century Media announced a new Dark Tranquillity album, their 11th. Named Atoma, and again featuring cover art by the band’s guitarist Niklas Sundin, it will be released on November 4, 2016. Coincident with that announcement, DT released the video that’s the first item in this round-up, for an Atoma track called “The Pitiless”. The video was filmed during the band’s appearance at the Turock Open Air Festival 2016 in Essen, Germany, by director Dirk Behlau. Continue reading »

Jan 082016

Joseph Mallord William Turner-Death On A Pale Horse-c1825-30


(TheMadIsraeli prepared this round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately.)

The scarcity of my writing last year stemmed partially from a desire to go back and listen to shit I liked or loved from past years, whatever it was, and fuck being musically relevant. This is something I hadn’t done in a long time, and I have to admit that doing this just about saved me from burning out on music altogether. This music blogging thing, it can become genuinely tiresome in the race to try and keep up with what’s worth noting. Listening to albums that may or may not be worth the time you just spent listening to them, to find out whether they are or not, can take a lot out of you sometimes.

I decided it’d be cool to write a piece here and there where I give some commentary on those older albums I’ve listening to, hence the title “Irrelevant Listening”. Maybe this could be a monthly thing, but as much as I intend to get back on the horse in regards to everything else, I’d hate to try and schedule this in any way. However, I have been noticing a pattern where I tend to change my “irrelevant listening” playlist every month or so.

So here are the records that had my attention this past December. Continue reading »

Oct 312014

The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us that Samhain “is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year” and is celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on 1 November, about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is a liminal time when spirits more easily enter our world, a time of divination rituals and the revisiting of souls of the dead.

In celebration of blessed Samhain I’ve harvested a collection of news and new music, a bounty large enough to warrant two posts, this being the first.


Yesterday  brought the announcement that Napalm Death will release their 15th studio album entitled Apex Predator – Easy Meat on January 26th in Europe and January 27th in North America. Frontman Barney Greenway provided this explanation of the album’s title and concept: Continue reading »

Jun 062014

NCS reader Joseph D just e-mailed me some breaking news, for which I’m most thankful. You can see the news above: Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity and Finland’s Insomnium will be touring North America in January 2015.

January 2015 is a long way off, but man, I’m already very excited about this announcement, especially because the tour will be stopping in Seattle. I’m sure you get sick of me focusing on myself first and everyone else secondarily, but you wouldn’t want me to be dishonest would you?

All the dates are after the jump. Continue reading »

Feb 142014

At last we’ve arrived at the final installment of our list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. I could have gone on, but since we’re half-way through February it seemed time to stop and spend more time on what 2014 is bringing us.

I want to thank my fellow NCS writers and our readers for suggesting songs from albums that I missed last year; this list has included a lot of those recommendations. I also beg your forgiveness for not including other recommendations, and for otherwise omitting or simply overlooking other great songs from last year.

On Monday I’ll have a a post with a few more concluding thoughts and a complete list of every song in this series, collected in one place. (For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three songs I’m announcing today, click here.)


I suppose there’s some irony in my choice of this next song (and the one that follows it) for our concluding installment — it includes a lot of clean singing. Beyond that, it is one of the more mellow, more pop-oriented songs DT have ever done (of the gothic/doom variety), one of the songs on 2013’s Construct that links arms with the style that DT explored in Projector. But Mikael Stanne’s clean singing is emotionally resonant, and the song also delivers his equally emotive harsh growls, along with some hammering Gothenburg riffs. Continue reading »

Aug 212013

Not long ago we received this announcement: Beginning early next year  Dark Tranquillity will be mounting a North American tour in support of their new Construct album, and they will be joined by Finland’s Omnium Gatherum. Both of those bands turned in superior albums this year, with OG’s Beyond being a particular favorite of this site.

The third band on the tour is a California outfit named Exmortus. It appears we will have to investigate their music.

The tour begins on January 31 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before moving to the actual North American continent in Atlanta on February 1. It’s scheduled to conclude in Philadelphia on March 2. I know you will be thrilled to learn that, in between, it will stop in Seattle so that I may see it. These are very accommodating bands.

The entire slate of dates follows the jump. Tickets are already available for purchase at this site: Continue reading »

Jun 132013

Here are a trio of things I spied on the web this morning. The first two are in the nature of coincidental follow-ups, since our last post was a review of Dark Tranquillity’s new album, and since yesterday we frothed at the mouth over the newly announced North American tour involving Exhumed (headlined by Dying Fetus and also featuring Devoured and Abiotic). And then the last item is a semi-obligatory check-in with Finnish metal.


The August issue of DECIBEL magazine (order-able here) includes yet another installment in the magazine’s Flexi-Disc series, and this one is a previously unreleased song by Dark Tranquillity entitled “Sorrow’s Architect”. The song was recorded during the sessions that produced the band’s new album Construct. DECIBEL kindly began streaming it today on SoundCloud.

To my ears, it sounds much in the vein of the more “experimental” songs on Construct, predominantly mid-paced and moody, with dreamlike, synth-assisted instrumental passages that add a dark ambience to the song (nut no clean singing). I do like it. Go HERE to listen. Continue reading »

Jun 132013

(DGR reviews the new album by Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity, with all four officially released album tracks to stream at the end.)

When a band has become as storied as Dark Tranquillity, new releases can pose a bit of a challenge. It seems that at some point pretty much everyone in the metal community has crossed paths with these melodeath veterans, and their opinion of them has largely been marked by that experience.  Reviewing a new release by a band such as this one is also difficult; you don’t want to spend a whole review comparing a newer work to past albums because you tread a very thin line between either sounding informed or accidentally painting the new disc as derivative and making yourself look like someone who can’t let go of past glories.

Construct, which saw release at the end of May, is a tale of two albums. It is an album that feels a bit like a career retrospective, yet it also includes some of the most daring work the guys have gotten up to in a while. Construct is the furthest that Dark Tranquillity have spread their wings in their career.

On We Are The Void it really felt like they had pushed the style that they had used on Character and Fiction – a sound that is more straightforward melodeath and really represented a more refined Damage Done. The crazy part about Dark Tranqullity’s career arc, however, is that they also produced a couple of slower, mid-tempo, synth-filled affairs in Haven and Projector, and until now, those albums had represented the points at which the band had most changed things up.

If you were to put Dark Tranquillity’s discs on a spectrum, then, Construct would lay closer to the Haven/Projector side of things. However, if you’re spooked by that mention, then you need to stick around – because Construct is one of those times where almost every experiment works really well. Continue reading »