Formed as the oddly named Septic Boiler, Dark Tranquillity is another band in the long list of acts which Century Media has plucked from other labels in its short history. Formed in the December of 1989 in Billdal Sweden and quickly changing monikers, the new name act released the singles Trial Of Life Decayed (Guttural Records) and A Moon Reflection (Germany's Exhumed Productions) which also saw a cassette release in Poland. When Fridden jumped over to the more successful In Flames, guitarist Stanne took over the vocal duties and was replaced on the strings by Johansson. The band's Spinefarm and Osmose periods are marked by melodic and speedy Gothenburg-style metal. No wonder given how the Swedes helped establish the style. The later albums show a band increasingly enamoured with electronics a la Depeche Mode. In 1995 the band released the MCD Of Chaos And Eternal Night on Spinefarm and further released the Enter Suicidal Angels MCD on Osmose. Sundin has written lyrics for In Flames and the band has toured with that band as well, as Arch Enemy, Children Of Bodom, etc. Released in the summer of 2002, Damage Done sees the band on a slightly heavier bent again. To support the album, the band toured with Nile in America and participated in many festivals in Europe. A Mexican and Colombian tour was cancelled in early 2003.
The Swedes released a DVD called Live Damage in the summer of 2003 featuring a concert taped late in 2002 in Poland.
The band set a North American release date of June 15th, 2004 for its rarities and compilation double CD Exposures: In Retrospect And Denial. The band signed a new worldwide recording contract with Century Media for three records in 2004. As a precursor to the band's album, Character, November brought a low-priced, four-song EP titled Lost To Apathy. The title track also served as Character's first single. The band's keyboardist Martin Brändström and Talisman guitarist Fredrik Akesson also toured with Tiamat. Bassist Michael Nicklasson left in the summer of 2008. The band intended to find a replacement and fulfill its scheduled shows. Michael Håkansson, formerly of Evergrey and Engel, played the bass on the Loud From The South festival in Holland. Michael had left Engel only a month prior.
Projector, Haven and Damage Done were re-released by Century Media in 2009 with bonus tracks. Century Media Records announced October 26th as the release date for Where Death Is Most Alive, a video and CD package from the band. The recording stemmed from a 2008 performance in Milan, Italy. Dark Tranquillity picked We Are The Void as the title for its next album, which was due on March 1st, 2010 through Century Media Records. The drums for the album were actually recorded at bassist Daniel Antonsson's own studio. Dark Tranquillity undertook a tour of Mexico and South America in June of 2010. The trek began on June 3rd in Mexico City. Threat Signal and Mutiny Within would support the band in North America in May. Dark Tranquillity, Eluveitie, Death Angel and Varg hit Europe under the monicker of the Neckbreaker's Ball Tour 2011 in October and November. Yesterworlds was a compilation of early Dark Tranquillity material including the Trail Of Life demo, the A Moonclad Reflection single and other unreleased tracks. It was out through Floga Records in 2012. Dark Tranquillity also re-signed with Century Media Records for another three records. Megadeth’s show at Croatia’s Metalfest was cut short in early June, 2012 after projectiles were launched at the band. A roadie for Megadeth would tell the audience the set was cut short as singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine was hit in the head. Apparently, W.A.S.P. and Dark Tranquillity had technical disputes with Megadeth and did not play. Dark Tranquillity would complete the We Are The Void tour in November, 2012 with Keep Of Kalessin, Warbringer, Dawn Heist and Rota. In 2012, Suspiria Records issued a tribute to Dark Tranquillity called The Final Resistance. The disc featured fifteen tracks by bands like The Descent (performing Final Resistance) and Skydancer (performing The Treason Wall). Dark Tranquillity announced the cancellation of its planned European tour Metal Attack Over Europe. The band blamed the promoter. Warbringer had dropped off the tour earlier. Dark Tranquillity parted ways with bassist Daniel Antonsson who would focus on his own musical project. Dark Tranquillity had earlier announced Construct on May 27th through Century Media Records. The band was in Dubai that April. On its 2014 North American tour, Swedish band Dark Tranquillity would sell a 7” EP entitled A Memory Construct. It was limited to 500 copies.
Guitarist Martin Henriksson left Dark Tranquillity in early 2016 citing the loss of the passion to play music. He was initially the band’s bassist. Amon Amarth would tour Europe in 2017 with support from Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum. Striker was hitting the road in September and October of 2017 for tour dates across North America supporting Dark Tranquillity and Warbringer. Amorphis and Dark Tranquillity toured North America with openers Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum in September and October 2018. Founding guitarist Niklas Sundin quit the band in 2020. He had announced a cessation of touring four years ago. Lunarsea, Dark Tranquillity, Ihsahn, Pestilence and others were booked to play at Hard Rock Laager – festival 2020 in Estonia in July. The group released a new album, called Moment, through Century Media in November. The band also announced a 2021 tour with Obscura and Nailed To Obscurity for North America. Amott and Reinholdz were new on guitar.
DARK TRANQUILLITY - DAMAGE DONE - CENTURY MEDIA
Now thirteen years of age, Gothenburg's Dark Tranquillity has certainly earned its status within the metal scene. Having released a couple of underground seven inch EPs and concurrently an album through Finland's Spinefarm, the Swedes recamp to Osmose Productions and quickly gain in popularity. Signed to Century Media, the band solidified its reputation as one of the originators of the Gothenburg sound and begins to experiment.
Damage Done is the band's seventh album and the follow-up to the meandering Haven which was released in 2000. Past the abstract cover, the first element encountered is how the group has scaled back its Depeche Mode-isms as heard on Haven. The sound is more aggressive and the keyboards are set in the background. A rare instrumental called Ex Nihilo is here which further helps the band distinguish the current album. Not unsurprisingly for Dark Tranquillity, the new album is quite catchy and boosted by a powerful production courtesy of long-time producer Fredrik Nordstrom. The technical
niveau is quite high too and it is clear that the band is tight and the members master their instruments. Having said that, given the presence of keyboards, will it be too late for a modicum of respectability or is the damage done? Seeing that Damage Done proves the band to not be irrelevant and harbour much potential, were the band to completely drop the keyboards they would be a cool band to listen to again.
DARK TRANQUILLITY - CHARACTER - CENTURY MEDIA
The latest Dark Tranquillity album, simply entitled Character, incorporates much that is both aggressive and fast. The vocals are aggressive and angry and the music - writers will note that the biography supplied by the label gets the band's line-up wrong - often serious about its razor sharp precision. It is obvious that beginning with its prior album, 2002's Damage Done, the Swedes drew a line in the sand beyond which they would not commercialize their output. Having said that, the band still maintains a keyboardist within its ranks and features electronic moments, samples and synthesizers. The first two songs, The New Build and Through Smudged Lenses, are aggressive and admirable, but beginning with Out Of Nothing the keyboards make the obligatory appearance. It is too bad. Elsewhere, Lost To Apathy is the band's melodic video, Dry Run is a strange mix of darkness and Helloween harmonies, Am I 1? is very melodic and the album's closing number My Negation is doomy and atmospheric.
Dark Tranquillity is not getting worse and is better than many of its contemporary countrymen, but Character is nowhere near the aggressive melodic metal opus it is hyped up to be. The keyboards keep the band back and separate this band from excellent bands like Kreator whose new album Enemy Of God is what this could have been. - Ali "The Metallian"
DARK TRANQUILLITY - FICTION - CENTURY MEDIA
Amazing how patterns tell stories on the heavy metal scene. Time and time again bands go through periods where precedent can predict an album’s sound, sales or tune.
In the late '80s Celtic Frost shortened its name or logo or both to a silly-looking 'CF' and quickly churned out music that almost destroyed its fans-base and self-dignity. Less than ten years later another ascendant band, this time the Dutch Gorefest, shortened its logo to a more modern 'GF' and quickly launched an expensive and optimistic marketing campaign that possibly had the owner of Nuclear Blast pre-ordering a second Porsche. Safe to say, the daydream crash-landed with such a thud that the group would disband before the century was done for.
Enter Dark Tranquillity or 'dt' if you please. Granted that this is an easy one since the band has had K&F (keyboards & female vocals) for quite some time, but Fiction is probably the band’s weakest, softest, most commercial dream, if not forever, for a long time. The album still contains all-out metal ditties - as much as a band with a keyboardist can deliver such a feat - as Blind At Heart, but the bulk of the material is too passionately sensitive (to the needs of keyboardist, or as the group would have it 'Electronics' man Martin BrandStrom) to matter. The album seems to start well. Nothing To No One is typical DT material with power, speed and tightness, yet soon enough the pattern is established and the keyboards, er, electronics take over. Icipher is slower, gothic and ridden with keyboards and effects. Empty Me has dual keyboards interplay and draws a line in the sand to Nightwish that the Swedes want a piece of the goth-pop market action. Misery’s Crown is almost Sisters of Mercy-meets-Bauhaus with token growls on top. The album-ending The Mundane And The Magic is a simple poppy song that rubs shoulders with Rammstein and features the much original (not!) female vocals.
Fiction is clearly one of Dark Tranquillity’s more commercial albums. The keyboards dominate and the band does not shy away from effects and samples. It is also a simple work with very little in the way of complexity or depth. There is a market out there - or rather the commercial wimpdom that writes for big magazines creates a market for - for such music and the Swedes are well within their rights to compose music that pleases them and go for a little sales action.
The problem lies with those in the industry, media and the deluded fans which use words or phrases like 'death metal' or 'death' or 'melodic death' or even 'metal' when describing albums like Fiction. These are probably the same hoodwinked illiterates who think the Iraqi population should be thankful to all the nice people in Kentucky for contributing soldiers and tax money to buy and deploy weaponry so 600,000 Iraqis can be bombed from the skies and die in a gulf of napalm so they can be, er, free. Let honest people call a spade a spade. - Ali “The Metallian”