Dark Tranquility still reigns as Melodeath classic

In the midst of today’s ever growing musical world, it can be hard to find anything; sometimes people don’t even know where to begin. While this may not show you every song, album or EP that you’d ever dream of hearing, let this inspire you to search and dive into the infinitely deep hole that is the modern music world.

With this album we’re returning to Gothenburg, Sweden, home of melodic death metal; yes, today we’re taking a look at Dark Tranquility’s 2002 album, Damage Done. 

Dark Tranquility’s Damage Done was one of the first Melodeath albums I had ever experienced, and it had changed my music listening experience. Dark Tranquility formed in Gothenburg in 1989, though originally they had the singer of In Flames, Anders Fridén, their current lineup consists of their vocalist Mikael Stanne, keyboardist Martin Brändström, guitarist Johan Reinholdz, bassist Christian Jansson and their drummer Joakim Strandberg Nilsson. Dark Tranquility is considered one of the three pillars of Melodeath: them, In Flames and the third pillar seems to be switching, but for a long time At the Gates was considered the third pillar. 

Dark Tranquility, compared to something like In Flames, while not as fast, takes a more dramatic approach to its pacing. They aren’t one to blast through a song. They take their time with a song, giving songs a slow-burn effect, but make no mistake. They are still incredibly heavy, and it is still death metal after all. 

Mikael Stanne does an impressive job with his vocals on every track, and even though he’s letting out guttural yells and growls, it’s easy to make out a lot of his words, something people newer to the scene might struggle with. 

A lot of people might associate death metal with the feeling of anger, but taking a look at the lyrics of songs can show Dark Tranquility is more than just the feeling of malice. On “Hours Past in Exile,” there are quite a few lyrics that reveal a more vulnerable and existential side to Mikael. The entire run of the song, he’s asking himself questions like “What if some things are destined to failure?” or “What if somehow we are different?” These are not words of hate; these are questions about life and the people we encounter. Later on in the chorus, we get these lyrics, “I came with sadness! But this my shattered heart can’t bear!” It becomes clear that this song isn’t about someone angry at the world, but someone struggling in a relationship, where they’re giving it their all, but not receiving anything in return.

A lot of the songs on Damage Done have just as much complexity in it’s lyrics, all while still being heavy, hard-hitting tracks. The album itself is relatively well-reviewed by most websites, saying that it’s mastered a slow, sad style, which I personally agree with. If you’re down with a more mellow sound and not just melodic. I would highly recommend Damage Done, but also Dark Tranquiliy’s entire discography, as it stays pretty consistent throughout the band’s career. 

This album inspired and continues to inspire as it always will. It’s melancholic tone mixed with its heavy and slow sound create a headbanger that people still praise and enjoy even 22 years after its release. I can safely give this album an 8/10, truly an astounding early 2000’s Melodeath album.

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