Album of the Week 24-2013: Dark Tranquillity – Construct

If there’s one thing Dark Tranquillity deserves all the praise they can get for, is that they’re not afraid to try something radically different if their sound threatens to become a little stale. ‘Construct’ is one of those moments. It’s still undeniably Dark Tranquillity, but after the one-dimensional letdown that ‘We Are The Void’ was, the music of the Swedes was begging for a different approach. On ‘Construct’, the focus shifted (no pun intended) from riffs to songs and from general heaviness to a desolate atmosphere. A somewhat risky, but ultimately successful move.

‘Construct’ is, in a way, the logical successor to their 1999 masterpiece ‘Projector’. All the Depeche Mode-isms that made that album a surprising departure from their former work are present here and now that the line-up actually has a keyboard player in Martin Brändström, who joined shortly after the recording of ‘Projector’, even more room is granted for the keyboards. What both albums have in common as well, is the number of incredibly well-written songs. ‘We Are The Void’ bothered me for being a collection of samey riffs. ‘Construct’ is a collection of powerful, atmospheric tunes that feature Mikael Stanne both grunting and facilitating his beautiful baritone.

Despite what I just stated, the good riffs aren’t completely gone here. Some of the album’s highlights contain a bunch of great riffs – just listen to the main riff to the amazing ‘Apathetic’ and try not to bang your head to it – but they’re used more servicable to the songs. The guitars of Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson work incredibly complementary, sometimes working almost as a canon, sometimes just taking backseat to Brändström’s keyboards and Anders Jivarp’s explosive drum work. None of the instruments is ever taking center stage and the guitar leads are generally melodic themes than solos, but that’s also what makes it work.

Fans of the band that are a little cautious because of the altered sound and want to listen to some songs first would do well to start with ‘The Science Of Noise’ and ‘Apathetic’, as they sound closest to what the band was doing on the amazing record that was ‘Fiction’. The atmospheric edge is already apparent in those though. ‘Uniformity’ is this album’s ‘ThereIn’, in that it was the first video and it features beautiful clean vocals in the chorus and though it doesn’t quite have the tension buildup the latter had, it’s one of the album’s better songs. ‘The Silence in Between’ is sort of a combination of approaches and one of the album highlights and ‘Endtime Hearts’, ‘Weight Of The End’ and  ‘None Becoming’ are the dark growers here.

Those of you who thoroughly enjoyed ‘Projector’ the way that I did would do themselves a favor adding ‘Construct’ to their collection as well. Fact is that ‘Construct’ is a fantastically written and immaculately produced set of songs that deserves to be heard. Every band member is at the top of their game here and that deserves to be heard. Also, Stanne just keeps getting better. Strongly recommended.

Recommended tracks: ‘The Silence In Between’, ‘Apathetic’, ‘Endtime Hearts’, ‘Uniformity’

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