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Dark Tranquility "Atoma" Album Review

There's something to be said for a band that's been around a quarter of a century who can still deliver music as fresh now as their first album. Spinning a vinyl copy of DARK TRANQUILITY is like embracing the waiting heavens with the souls of one thousand screaming prophets. Their influence has spread throughout the metal community like a thundering herd of leprous mammoths. And my God, their live shows...

If you think DT's lost their edge after all these years, think again. “Atoma” staggers into the room with first track 'Encircled', a swirling, mesmerizing soul-wrenching melody that quickly draws you in like the grasping hands of a virulent succubus. And then second track 'Atoma' enraptures us with its beauty and emotional breakdown, as good as any track on “The Gallery”. DARK TRANQUILITY cannot be topped in weaving their way into our hearts before ripping them out with the fury of a rabid harpy. 'Forward Momentum' is just that...a barreling stomp through our minds containing clean singing before the storm of despairing growling reminding me of now-defunct band Lilitu. 'Neutrality' whispers at first before crushing us with a galloping romp of fist pumping ecstasy. Along with standout track 'Atoma', fifth song 'Force of Hand' stands right with it as a masterpiece. Bludgeoning guitars and drums swatted down by gentle pianos which evolve into a sweltering journey of epic proportions...DT at its finest. And man, does this album grow on you. After 'Faithless By Default', 'The Pitiless' kicks off the second half of the album with a fuel-drenched anthem to rival the best of them. 'Our Proof of Life' is a steady rhythm with more emotional turmoil to bring us all to our knees. 'Clearing Skies' and 'When the World Screams' keep up the pace until 'Merciless Fate' slows it all down a bit without actually losing any momentum. “Atoma” ends with 'Caves and Embers", a track that could have easily been included near the beginning. It's just that good.

Words cannot describe the gut-wrenching beauty DARK TRANQUILITY continue to throw at us album after album. Two and half decades and eleven studio albums later, I am still entranced. Mikael Stanne and company, thank you, from the bottom of my black, trodden-upon heart.


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