Swedish melodic death metallers Dark Tranquillity are well known around these parts. The group’s discography is well documented in interview, review, and Hall of Fame form (The Gallery was inducted in Decibel #62, HERE). Now that the Swedes have a new album out, the wonderfully crafted Atoma, it’s time we do our due diligence to see what’s brewing (they just unveiled their own Dark Tranquillity imperial stout). Written over the last three years, the follow-up to 2013’s killer Construct album is yet again another milestone for the quintet. Rife with stunning melodies, endless rage, incredible album art, and contemplative lyrics, Atoma proves, yet again, that Dark Tranquillity, now in their third decade, show no signs of creatively hitting musical doldrums. We sat down with frontman Mikael Stanne to discuss guilty pleasures, music we otherwise would hide from our brothers in metal. Or, not.
5. Simply Red – Stars (1991)
I remember I was on the bus taking me to where I used to live in Billdal. With my parents. I had been record shopping, and I bought Stars by Simply Red. It had just come out. The videos were on MTV. I’m such a fan of Mick Hucknall’s voice. So, I got on the bus and Tompa Lindberg was on it. He was like, “Oh, you’ve been record shopping, too?” I was like, “Yeah…” We each open our bags simultaneously and he has Terrorizer. I pull out Simply Red. I still love the album.
4. Madonna – Ray of Light (1998)
When the album came out, I was in a record store in town and I had to have the double vinyl. Had to have it. A friend of mine came in and he said, “You’re getting that, too?” I was like “Oh, yeah!” My friend is a total crust-punk dude. Long dreadlocks. The shittiest guy in the world. [Laughs] This is indicative of a lot of my friends though. We listen to a lot of stuff, and it’s OK to tease each other about guilty pleasures we don’t agree on. Otherwise, nobody cares what we listen to.
3. Journey – Raised on Radio (1986)
This band has been considered super-cheesy. Never been famous, to me anyway, is Journey. I love them. I got into them recently, and by recently I’m talking last 7-10 years. I knew the existence of the band, and I had heard the songs, but I never really got it. Once I got my first album, I was like, “This is really awesome!” Now that I go back and listen to their catalog, I know it’s a really cheesy album, but I still love it. It’s the one I first got into. When I talk to friends about Journey, they’re like, “I don’t know…” There are a lot of American bands, like Boston and Supertramp, that just kind of flew by. They never really clicked. But Journey clicked.
2. Warren G – “Regulate” (featuring/ Nate Dogg) 7″ (1994)
I’m not a hip-hop guy at all. Maybe Run–D.M.C. when I was a kid. There’s a single track that I still can go back and listen to. When I listen to it, I’m like, “This is fucking awesome!” I’ve even memorized the lyrics. I’ve never done that before. Usually, I can’t stand hip-hop or I just don’t get it.
1. Phantom of the Opera (1986)
Surprisingly, I love musicals. Not like Rent, but Phantom of the Opera. Andrew Lloyd Webber is awesome. I know all the songs. I sing to it. Not in my death metal voice. [Laughs] My grandma gave me it to me as a kid, when the first Swedish version came out. I was like 15. I was like, “What the hell is this?!” I loved it. It was a double vinyl. We just talked about it recently. She’s now 94. I took my kid to see the musical. My grandma couldn’t be happier. It’s her favorite musical. It’s now my daughter’s absolute favorite.
** Dark Tranquillity’s new album, Atoma, is out now on Century Media. The excellent album is available on CD and VINYL by clicking HERE.