This is the other supposed epitome of the Ghothenburg melodic death metal scene. (Actually that’s not entirely true – there are three of them.) But I like it more than Slaughter of the Soul. It is slightly less acclaimed so I find myself just slightly out of step with the critics on this one.
This, I think it’s safe to say, a more commercial record than Slaughter of the Soul. Maybe that’s why people don’t like it as much. I suspect the reason I like it more is because it is more immediate – it is definitely catchier.
But there are other reasons: for one thing, Stanne is a more “metal” singer than the At the Gates guy (at least in 1995). He’s properly growling and screaming rather than just shouting. (And that means he sells the most metal moments better.)
But this record has way more musical diversity too. There are way more acoustic guitar passages but there is also piano! (Well, shitty keyboards pretending to be piano, but I’ll take it.) This stuff became cliche really soon but, in 1995, it was relatively unique. (If I am not wrong these guys were one of the first bands to do this, on their earliest records.) This is just a more musically diverse record and that wins out in my book. (I’d much rather listen to something more diverse or more ambitious than something that is more “pure”.)
And then there’s the production: it’s quite clean. But that’s not a bad thing in metal, as far as I’m concerned. Especially in melodic death metal. This record sounds good 25 years later. It doesn’t necessarily sound like it was made in the mid ’90s, as so many metal records from that time sound like shit now.
At least at this moment in time, on the basis of two albums, I’ll take Dark Tranquility over At the Gates. (Shock! Horror!!)