Dark Tranquillity – Atoma (Review)

Author: Craig Matthews

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a pioneer in our midst. Swedish Melodic Death Metalers DARK TRANQUILITIY have returned with their eleventh studio album ‘Atmoa’. Formed back in 1989 these guys have an impressive portfolio of solid work, and have managed to keep the ball rolling in a genre that’s always evolving and changing.

‘Atoma’ carries on with this pioneering tradition opening up with ‘Encircled’, a great Death metal track. Fast tempo, epic guitar riffs, brutal rasping vocals and a touch of the melodic with a piano section in the background; DARK TRANQUILITY are just getting started. The title track ‘Atoma’ launches with keyboards and clean vocals, it’s Death Metal… but not as we know it! While in some places I fear it sounds similar to IN FLAMES they still manage to keep their signature sound, it’s a gamble for sure, but in this instance I think it’s paid off for them.

Moving on and the album really is coming into its own. ‘Neutrality’ marks a sort of shift to the Death Metal side of the band’s sound, aggressive guitar riffs and punchy snarling vocals are the order of the day here. There is still a touch of the Melodic here, but it’s much more subtle and it just serves to finish off the final product.

This blurring of genres continues through the next few tracks. ‘The Pitiless’ is another turning point for the album’s sound, from here DARK TRANQUILITY are starting to swing back towards the more Melodic sound. The band’s tendency to experiment is still very obvious, and the ability of Mikael Stanne to switch between growling screams and clean singing is very impressive. The Duelling singing styles again could be compared to IN FLAMES, but only slightly DARK TRANQUILITY still retains their signature sound.

The album closes with the bad fully returning to their melodic sound. ‘Merciless Fate’ really standing out for me, a well-crafted yet simple riff and a generally sombre tone, it’s some of the best Melodic Death Metal I’ve heard.

I think a good statement for this whole album is “It’s a gamble but it’s paid off” there’s a lot of experimentation throughout this album. Some tracks you find yourself getting lost in the melodic ambiance, and others you’re coming up against the ferocity and passion of Death Metal. There really is something for everyone here, and apart from occasionally sounding similar to IN FLAMES I can find very little wrong with this album. Certainly one of the best I’ve heard this year.

4/5

Tracklist
1. Encircled
2. Atoma
3. Forward Momentum
4. Neutrality
5. Force Of Hand
6. Faithless By Default
7. The Pitiless
8. Our Proof Of Life
9. Clearing Skies
10. When The World Screams
11. Merciless Fate
12. Caves And Embers

Band Members
Mikael Stanne – lead vocals )
Niklas Sundin – lead guitar
Anders Jivarp – drums
Martin Brändström – keyboards, programming
Anders Iwers – bass

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