DB HOF NO. 62
The making of Dark Tranquillity’s “The Gallery”
released: November 27, 1995
label: Osmose Productions
Contrary to popular belief, the New Wave of Swedish Death Metal—also known by its acronym NWOSDM or synonym “The Gothenburg Sound”—wasn’t a cohesive movement. There was no collective push—locally, nationally or internationally—to scream louder, play faster or sound heavier than death metallers 244 miles away in Stockholm. The Gothenburg (and adjacent suburbs) scene was really bunch of bored, if musically-inclined, kids who got together to discuss, listen (and party) to and eventually play the metal similar to but evolved from their heroes.
Things have a way of starting in threes. Though Dark Tranquillity, Hall of Famers At the Gates (Slaughter of the Soul was dB’s second induction) and In Flames were and still are representative of the NWOSDM, there were others—pre-At the Gates outfit Grotesque, death metallers Ceremonial Oath (proto-In Flames) and young bucks Eucharist (from Veddige)—involved in the creation and progression of melodic death metal. NWOSDM was distinct from its Stockholm counterpart, as it as less inspired by early death metal and grindcore. Instead, bands of the NWOSDM-style took cues from thrash/speed and heavy metal. Whereas At the Gates refashioned Dark Angel and Slayer riffs, and In Flames borrowed heavily from the Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen school of rock, Dark Tranquillity fashioned their resplendent death off of Iron Maiden, Sabbat (UK) and Kreator. The differences between all three bands couldn’t be greater, but they shared common traits. They were aggressive and overtly melodic.
Dark Tranquillity’s second album, The Gallery, is a singular entity. No recording at the time or since bears resemblance to its power and sophistication. The product of boundless (and slightly vainglorious) youth and a re-energized lineup (guitarist Mikael Stanne moved up to fill the frontman spot vacated by Anders Fridén and new recruit Fredrik Johansson replaced Stanne as the group’s second axeman), The Gallery features the blindingly fast and artful fingerprint of debut album Skydancer with noticeable refinement. The songwriting was tighter, the note choices smarter (and more economical) and the production (courtesy of then-nascent producer Fredrik Nordström) brawnier. Little did Dark Tranquillity know, but The Gallery, moored by stunners “Punish My Heaven,” “Lethe,” “Edenspring” and the title track, would be the sound of a few thousand ships—some more successful than others—launching.
The Gallery, perhaps like Slaughter of the Soul and The Jester Race, defined a group, a geographic location and a moment in time. It is truly peerless. As the Swedes say, “Välkommen till Decibel’s Hall of Fame.” —Chris Dick
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