Artist: Dark Tranquillity

Album Title: Moment

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: 20 November 2020

Any day that I get to listen to new Dark Tranquillity music is a good day in my book. It is an especially good day when the wait has been four long years. I hadn’t actually twigged that it had been so long since ‘Atoma’ was released, but that’s the reality. No wonder I was excited to hear new material from one of the very best melodic death metal bands around.

For those that remember the review, I rather liked ‘Atoma’. Of it, I wrote:

“In a nutshell, ‘Atoma’ is just about the perfect blend of the catchiness and immediacy of ‘Haven’ or ‘Character’, the more extreme elements found within ‘We Are The Void’ or ‘Construct’ and the more atmospheric and rich sounds of ‘Projector’…”

Its successor, the twelfth of their lengthy career, is entitled ‘Moment’ and it sees the Swedes in a rich vein of form yet again. It also sees the band adding two permanent guitarists to the fold in the form of Christopher Amott (ex-Arch Enemy) and Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda). The two have been touring members since 2017 but ‘Moment’ represents their first contributions in the studio as full-time members of dark Tranquillity. They join vocalist Michael Stanne, drummer Anders Jivarp, bassist Anders Iwers, and keyboardist Martin Brändström to round out the sextet.

Despite the changes in personnel, there’s a great chemistry and they all put in a quality shift. As a result, ‘Moment’ feels to be the perfect follow-up to ‘Atoma’ because it builds on the elements explored within that record, whilst pushing ever so slightly in different ways too. When Dark Tranquillity produce music of the quality seen here, it’s no wonder that they have long been one of my favourite bands.

If you are not immediately entranced by ‘Phantom Days’, then this band are simply not for you. It’s a heavy, groovy, melodic anthem that calls to mind the ‘Haven’ era of the band. It starts with a quick, atmospheric intro before launching into a cool riff with cheeky guitar embellishments, only to further explode with power and crunch, topped off by a nice lead guitar lick. The chorus is instantly memorable, with Stanne’s recognisable gruff bark adding gravitas. There’s time for an extended melodic solo, too before marching out to a reprise of the addictive chorus.

‘Transient’ is much more of a slow burner, but once it gets its claws in you, there’s no escape. Despite the prevalence of gruff vocals, the music itself reminds me of the ‘Projector’ days, as it’s a song full of moody atmosphere to accompany Dark Tranquillity’s melodeath approach.

When it comes to the lead single, ‘The Dark Unbroken’, it is fair to say that I am hopelessly and completely in love. The opening atmosphere and solemn melody is scintillating, as it the entire song. Stanne starts off growling, but then the chorus strikes and his rich, sonorous clean tones emerge, sending a shiver down my spine in the process. The ‘Projector’ vibes once again loom large, which is a delight for me as I’ve always enjoyed the more melodic side of this band. As good as Stanne’s vocals are though, they are made all the more striking thanks to the hook-laden chorus that accompanies him. This track is awash with melancholy vibes, but it is also the most beautifully-crafted song, with ebb and flow, heaviness and quiet introspection, melody and tempered aggression.

There are almost certainly those within the metal community who will deride Dark Tranquillity for being too melodic, too safe, too commercial-sounding. That is an argument that may have some merit, were it not for the fact that this music has such a rich vein of honesty and sincerity running through it. The songs have been created because that’s what these guys wanted to create. There’s no quest for fame or notoriety, just a love of music. Their music. And in 2020, this is the music that Dark Tranquillity wanted to make. And I love it. If I’m being completely objective, I would possibly concede that there are other albums within their considerable discography that I like a little better overall, but ‘Moment’ is no slouch and it is a cracking record in it’s own right. You want more proof?

Take ‘Remain In The Unknown’ as the first example. The clean vocals dominate a sombre, atmospheric intro that blossoms into a darker, more subdued composition, but with yet more strong melodic sensibilities. The gruff/clean vocal interplay works so well on this song, creating a surprisingly moving piece of music overall.

‘Standstill’ is another brilliant track, one of my favourites on the entire record. Instantly catchy and full of passion, it is topped off by an incredible vocal performance in the chorus, the kind that stops you in your tracks and plants a great big grin on your face. ‘Ego Deception’ is another slow-burner, featuring more clean vocals and some great riffs, whilst the performances across the board on the devastatingly superb ‘Eyes Of The World’ are marvellous.

It wasn’t until I was nearing the completion of this review that I realised that ‘Moment’ was a twelve-track affair, not ten as the stream I’d been using seemed to indicate. I can’t believe that I nearly missed out on two more tracks, especially when they are as good as they are. ‘Empires Lost To Time’ is a really clever track in that it is both quite heavy and aggressive, whilst also being incredibly infectious. I love the quieter segment over which there’s a great lead guitar solo, but the chorus is wonderfully catchy, dragging me back for repeated spins frequently.

The closing track is entitled ‘In Truth Divided’ and with it, the Swedes have left one of the best until last. It’s a hugely atmospheric song, where big synths take a really prominent role, whilst the other instruments help to accent the song, rather than dominate as they normally do. There’s a melancholy, almost forlorn sheen to the song, but the melodies are beautiful and I can’t help but feel the goosebumps emerge across my skin as I listen. Personally-speaking, it is the perfect way to end another excellent album.

‘Moment’ may not be the very best album in their career, but it isn’t far off. Given the quality of other albums in their discography, and the esteem in which I hold them, this is saying a lot, trust me. Most of all, what ‘Moment’ does is underline the fact that Dark Tranquillity remain one of the most consistent, most reliable, and most enjoyable bands within the Scandinavian melodic death metal scene. Rightly so, too, because there’s a magic about this band that’s hard to articulate. For nearly thirty years, Dark Tranquillity have delivered incredible music, and ‘Moment’ is no different. Bring on the next thirty years.

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

My Dying Bride – Macabre Cabaret

Sólstafir – Endless Twilight Of Co-Dependent Love

Communic – Hiding From The World

Wolverine – A Darkened Sun

Avandra – Skylighting

Pyramaze – Epitaph

Necrophobic – Dawn Of The Damned

Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night

Draconian – Under A Godless Veil

Mörk Gryning – Hinsides Vrede

DGM – Tragic Separation

Perduratum – Exile’s Anthology

Carcass – Despicable EP

Mors Principium Est – Seven

Cult Of Lilith – Mara

Helion Prime – Question Everything

Soul Secret – Blue Light Cage

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews