From this critic’s perspective, Dark Tranquillity albums are always something to look forward to. Hit or miss, there’s usually plenty to write about, and full-length #10 is no exception. That said, even I couldn’t find the right words to sum up 2010’s We Are the Void. An undoubtedly solid effort, yet somehow missing that certain something; perhaps just simply overmatched by the might of its powerful predecessor and my all-time DT fave, 2007’s Fiction. I’m pleased to report that Construct is much closer to Fiction in terms of beginning-to-end enjoyment. In fact, it might even be more well-balanced overall, with arguably the finest production these Melodeath originators have ever achieved. It’s time to start giving major props to the ears over at Fascination Street Studios. Why anyone goes anywhere else to get their album mastered is beyond me. Listening to Construct seemingly non-stop since the second I tore off the shrink wrap, I get the sense that the band’s creative core —the amazingly still-intact-for-a-staggering-22 years foursome of Henriksson, Jivarp, Sundin, and Stanne— took a step back, viewed their remarkable body of work as a whole, and attempted to make the perfect career-encapsulating record. On just about every level, they’ve succeeded. There’s something here for every type of Dark Tranquillity fan. For those who’ll always prefer the band’s Thrashier, more aggressive side, you have super-melodic hard chargers like “The Science of Noise” and “Apathetic.” For those who can’t resist the clean-vocal balladry of the Projector/Haven era, you have heartfelt standouts “Uniformity,” “What Only You Know,” and “State of Trust.” (Something must be said for the quality of Mikael Stanne’s singing voice. As instantly recognizable and all-pro as his Deathly rasp, it has grown on me significantly over the years. As the contempt of my youth fades, I no longer consider the band’s aforementioned 1999 and 2000 LPs as musical wimp-outs.) Then there are songs that convincingly echo that mournful Gothic tinge through a heavier approach, such as “Weight of the End” and the emotionally wrought bookends “For Broken Words” and “None Becoming.” Yet with all these different vibes abound, the album feels completely cohesive. A couple filler tracks aside, the only real design flaw with this Construction is on Century Media’s end. Good luck tracking all of it down. I was fortunate to score the US Edition and its two bonus tracks —one being a brief instrumental— but there’s a Japanese pressing out there with 146 extra tracks, and I’m told the Peruvian Edition comes with 147 tracks, a spice rack, and a set of Lionel Train collectible dinner plates. I give up! Still, based on the material at hand, Construct is a satisfying and deliciously meaty Gothenburger with cheese.
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