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At this point in their fruitful career, it’s safe to assume that a new DARK TRANQUILLITY brings no apprehensions about the band’s unwavering commitment to excellence. Their eighth album, Fiction, is another solid, high-quality work that continues the evolution of the sound of their past couple of albums while revisiting some elements of their earlier days. Mixed in with the heavy, chunky stop-and-start riffs, the razor sharp melodic riffs, and the subtle progressive touches are some of the more aggressive sounds and approaches from The Gallery and The Mind’s I. As always, the band’s riffs simply kill. Martin Brandstrom’s keyboards are once again tastefully and seamlessly blended with the rest of the instruments, representing the “modern” DARK TRANQUILLITY sound. Drummer Anders Jivarp lets lose some more of his seldomnly utilized, ultra tight blast beats which only adds to his substantial contribution to the musicality of the record. Fiction succeeds most where truly soulful moments are created such as in “Icipher,” “Inside the Particle Storm,” and “The Mundane and the Magic.” “Inside the Particle Storm” breaks new ground with perhaps their most epic and ominous song. One is easily enveloped in its sublimely strong atmosphere. tawlaMisery’s Crown” might be one of their most straightforwardly catchy songs, which features the return of Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals (which many fans have eagerly been awaiting) and a simply infectious keyboard riff and vocal lines for the chorus. Final song, “The Mundane and the Magic,” revisits the band’s use of male/female clean vocal interplay from the Skydancer days. And it is exactly Mikael Stanne and Nell’s Liv Kristine-like vocals that provide the lead on this great song. After eight top-notch albums, it might be too easy to take DARK TRANQUILLITY for granted and not fully appreciate their accomplishments. At first blush, Fiction may just seem like “another DARK TRANQUILLITY album.” However, once one really explores and absorbs the level of songwriting, the subtle touches, and stimulating mix of elements, Fiction truly proves its worth. (Century Media Records)