Dark Tranquillity – Damage Done (2002)
Dark Tranquillity’s proper worldwide breakthrough album features a blurry red cover with Mikael Stanne doubled over in what appears to be agony. “I’m clearly trying to emote my love for the malt,” the singer jokes in the liner notes to this recently reissued version. It’s a great place to start for new Dark Tranquillity fans, as I did, and on its 10th anniversary it is still highly recommended melodic death metal.
1. Final Resistance
2. Hours Passed In Exile
3. Monochromatic Stains
4. Single Part of Two
5. The Treason Wall
6. Format C For Cortex
7. Damage Done
8. Cathode Ray Sunshine
9. The Enemy
10. White Noise/Black Silence
11. Ex Nihilo
Although Dark Tranquillity is considered melodic death metal, they differentiated themselves by incorporating subtle electronics and keyboards into their abrasive, confident mix. The steady opening march of “Final Resistance” made it the band’s signature song for years. “Monochromatic Stains” was the first track written for the album, Stanne explaining that the chorus was largely improvised on the spot. It set the tone for the recording of the other ten songs.
“Damage Done” purposefully featured shorter, denser songs than the band’s previous efforts, making it a good start to beginners to extreme metal in general. All the pieces that make Dark Tranquillity great come together in the middle of “Damage Done” –”The Treason Wall” and “Cathode Ray Sunhine,” the latter my personal favorite song of theirs. Aggressive riffage, epic melodies, and touched up with a sprinkling of piano, they are not your typical death metal songs, just as Dark Tranquillity is not a typical death metal band.
Not content to limit their songwriting skills to this fusion of the brazen and the gentle, the Swedes try their hand at an epic, closing instrumental reeking with feedback, “Ex Nihilo.” Like the rest of the album, they succeed handily.
“On this album, we made a more conscious effort to actually communicate rather than just somewhat indecently expose ourselves,” vocalist Mikael Stanne writes, presumably with pride.
For a new and wider audience of listeners, “Damage Done” stands as the arrival of yet another great Swedish metal band out to conquer the world beyond Scandinavia–and with this album, they did so.
5 / 5
Written by Matt P