Gothenburg gods, DARK TRANQUILLITY, have never been guilty of musical complacency. Even with their last few albums, new angles and ideas can be found, even if they are, at times, only subtle nuances. With We are the Void, the band have easily created their most artistically challenging album since Haven. Their new work surely takes many listens over the course of time to fully understand that this isn’t the same animal that you’ve heard previously. There are plenty of stimulating and interesting song arrangements (“Iridium“), new riffing territory (“Her Silent Language”), and some new avenues (“Arkhangelsk”) that DARK TRANQUILLITY traverse that give the album a fresh feel.

However, that’s not to say that We are the Void is some 180 degree shift. The melancholy, the soul, invincible riffs (“I Am the Void”), and tasteful and tight musicianship are here as they’ve always been. New bassist Daniel Antonsson fits in seamlessly with the rest of the band with not only his bass lines but also his songwriting.

As mentioned above, the baring of the soul and the deep, honest emotions and thoughts expressed on We are the Void exemplify the greatness of this band. We are the Void reminds one that life is short and thus, time should never be wasted on lesser music. (Century Media Records)

SOILWORK – Sworn to a Great Divide

Sweden’s SOILWORK return with more bite and aggression than their last two albums. The band inject more aggression in their riffing and delivery than in recent years. There is also a stronger emphasis on guitarwork this time around. However, there is just as much, if not a little more, focus on and refinement of melodies, particularly in the vocal department. It would be an over statement to say that the band have made a return their heavier, thrashier beginnings even though songs like “The Pittsburgh Syndrome,” “I Vermin,” and “As the Sleeper Awakes” would make you think otherwise. At the end of the day, SOILWORK make their bread and butter on melodies and vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid is the man that holds it all together. There are times when his melodic clean vocals are so catchy and smooth that they inadvertently subtract from the overall aggression and heaviness of the band. But don’t judge this to mean that Speed is necessarily softening the band. Newest member Daniel Antonsson (guitars) from DIMENSION ZERO/PATHOS fame fits in perfectly and heartily contributes to four songs. SOILWORK do break new ground on “Sick Heart River” and “20 More Miles.” The songs has more of a grander and more emotional feel than the standard SOILWORK song. Speed really delivers on the passionate choruses that would certainly make vocal producer Devin Townsend smile. The album also comes with a bonus DVD, which includes footage of the band in the studio and playing a live show in Switzerland. The best part is the footage of Speed recording the album’s vocals in Devin Townsend’s home studio. As you can expect, Devin is his hilarious, eccentric self. In the end, Sworn to a Great Divide is a solid, catchy album that follows the style that the band have become known for. (Nuclear Blast Records)