Twenty years have passed since Gothenburg quintet Dark Tranquillity released their debut full length 'Skydancer'. Their latest release, their tenth, 'Construct' they describe as: "The sound of perseverance, proof of the band's ability to reinvent itself and stay relevant. This is quintessential Dark Tranquillity, while giving a fresh spin to the trademark sound."
In many ways 'Construct' marks the beginning of a new era for the band, with Bass duties taken over by guitarist Martin Henriksson after the departure of Daniel Antonsson. This time it was recorded at Rogue Music, the studio of keyboardist Martin Brändström, so they have been able take more time than on previous albums. Another change is Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Kreator etc) taking on the production duties, always a good decision for any band.
These changes are subtle but certainly add a new freshness to the trademark Dark Tranquillity sound and there is more melody and emotional depth rather than complex riffs also lyrically it is much less metaphorical than previous albums, aiming to put a message across this time.
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So what is it all about? The clue is in the title, a construct being something that exists in your own mind like a fantasy, humans need to make things up and create something to believe in, to feel more at ease, primarily religion and so in this context, for the album, a construct is a negative thing and this is summed up in the beautiful yet dark opening track 'For Broken Words'. They continue on this theme with the more up tempo 'The Science Of Noise' and although there may be less of the complex riffs used, these first two tracks more than make up for that with a simple yet catchy and memorable edge to their construct.
I loved the strong emphasis on the keyboards on 'Uniformity'; it adds a huge amount of atmosphere to the track. There is a haunting opening repeat riff that grows and expands on 'The Silence In Between', a powerful, questioning track which moved me greatly.
'Apathetic' has ironically, given the title, mostly an up tempo to it for the greater part, but there is a repeat segment with a sinister tempo drop which adds a dark quality to the track allowing greater emphasis to be used in the already wonderfully harsh and scathing vocals contained in these segments, also look out for great guitar segment midway, an excellent track.
Some clean vocals make their appearance on the dark, bleak 'What Only You Know', a very emotive track. A blend of chugging guitars complement the high profile keyboards on 'Endtime Hearts', a great track that lyrically says it 'like it is', keep an ear out for another great guitar segment towards the end. Some more cleans are mixed with the harsh vocals on 'State Of Trust', giving the effect of an internal conflict or dialogue.
'Weight Of The End' is slightly sinister, reflective and a little bit more metaphoric than its predecessors, contains some great little guitar riffs and phrases. Final track 'None Becoming' opens on an interesting keyboard effect and continues with fairly high profile keyboards throughout, with a lot of interesting effects utilised, giving a slightly tragic and sadly reflective feel to this excellent album ender.
The artwork was once again created by band guitarist Niklas Sundin, a graphic and stylized design, based on the ambiguity of the album title, 'Construct' and aiming for a mechanical feel reminiscent of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' with an X in the design, to signify it being their tenth album.
I think Dark Tranquillity have certainly achieve all the set out to do with this album, it is an easy listen and one that I think will perform well live, over all a very good album.