"Damage Done" is the much-anticipated sixth full length album from Gothenburg's own Dark tranquillity, a band that has become an institution within the realms of extreme Metal, seeing that they deserve full credit for originally kicking off the stylistic wave of melodic Death Metal which has become established and frenetically followed all throughout the world in the meantime.
During their 13 years of existence, Dark tranquillity have always tried to constantly expand their musical borders and stray away from already-conquered territory, and "Damage Done" is certainly no exception to their own artistic goal, being a truly diverse affair showcasing a host of new approaches and inspirational sources. Compared to the electronically-tinged approach of "Haven" (2000) or the laid-back, lush melancholia of the (Swedish) Grammy-nominated entity "Projector" (1999), "Damage Done" is more technical and intense in feel; a direct and solid sound, yet with lots of complex arrangements and sonic structures emerging from below the surface. While not by any means being a sheepish "back to the roots" album, some of the aggressive aesthetics present in Dark tranquillity's earlier work have resurfaced, giving birth to some faster passages, pounding and inherently catchy throughout. From the relentless thrash-o-rama of opener "Final Resistance" to the sombre closing tones of "Ex Nihilo" (the first instrumental in the band's history), "Damage Done" runs the full gamut and showcases a hungry and confident band that presents absolutely no signs of musical exhaustion or willingness to descend from their position as a leading creative force in the metal scene.
Recorded with long term producer Fredrik Nordström at Gothenburg's famous Studio Fredman facilities, the masterfully written and flawlessly executed eleven new creations on "Damage Done" are determined to fully please the passionate melodic Death Metal following as well as bringing new listeners into the very unique and charismatic sound of Dark tranquillity. Watch out for the band to embark on a massive string of tours following the release of this masterpiece of a new album: The damage is done, my friends!
For a prolific band (they've released five albums since their inception in 2000, three in as many years since 2006), Swallow The Sun have surely not been one to disappoint. Reliably bottling the gloomy atmosphere of Finland into equally gloomy metal.
Talk about a diamond in the rough! What we have here is an extremely doomy approach to classic USPM. The best way to describe the sound here might be to take one part Dungeons are Calling-era Savatage, one part Fatal Violence, and a dark, gloomy atmosphere that more closely resembles The Spectre Within than anything else that immediately comes to mind, and add to them a healthy dose of doom metal. The result is nothing short of spectacular - even more impressive is that the music here is from 1984, predating all of the aforementioned material.
As far as remastered demos go, the production here isn't too bad. The guitars sound pretty rough, but all the instruments are clearly audible. The drums are unexpectedly superb - thunderous and crushing, a perfect match for the musical style here. Doug Trevison's vocals should still be recognizable to anyone familiar with Fatal Violence (and if you're not, you need to listen to it, now), though his style here is much more restrained, remaining mainly in the midrange in stark contrast to his shrieks and wails in Fatal Violence. I'd say the style suits him more - his work here is nearly haunting, and really helps to build the atmosphere. To build on the Fatal Violence comparisons, Rob Charrier's bass work is equally prominent here, and just as great.
The album kicks off with High Treason, which sounds a lot like Fates Warning's Traveler in Time if you were to ramp up the aggression and remove the vocal acrobatics. It's a truly fantastic track that keeps up the momentum with its relentless riffs, and then completely floors you with a breakneck solo of the highest caliber. The next two tracks are long, doomy epics, clocking in at 8 minutes and 7 minutes, respectively. Salem's Curse is the superior of the two, transitioning from quick, momentous segments to drawn-out doomy chords with ease, and though it plods a bit towards the end it still satisfies. Final Conflict doesn't fail to please, either, with its quiet segments during which Doug Trevison really shines, punctuated by crushing riffs and some superb shredding.
The album then changes gears with the unexpected speed metal number, Born to Avenge, which kicks copious amounts of ass. Bury the Knife is next, the last of the demo tracks, which again is a departure from the previous tracks with its catchy grooves and traditional metal sensibilities, but this, too, is executed flawlessly.
Following the five original demo tracks are a whole slew of rehearsal tracks, all of which are fairly good but, unsurprisingly, also very lacking in sound quality. Still, all have their fair share of awesome moments and great riffs, and are worth a listen.
If you can get past the demo-level production, there's some top-notch USPM to be found on this release. Definitely recommended.
Starkill is an American melodic death metal band from Chicago, Illinois; The members met and began writing materials in 2008, eventually signing to Century Media Records on 14 December 2012 and releasing "Fires of Life" on 16 May 2013.
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