Character (Century Media)
by Martin Popoff
Character… yer damn right. This band has been hobbled by their irregular presence in North America, even though their form of manic but studied and classy Swedish thrash should have them duking it out with the metalcore bands getting all the press. After Haven and Damage Done, Character is a snap back to a gruffer vocal, messier/noisier production, faster songs, less keyboards, and more metal. When I heard this was gonna happen, I knew I’d like this album less than the last two.
Mikael Stanne’s vocals lack expression here, the tormented frontman unremarkably monotoning like Angela from Arch Enemy, Stanne going for the jugular like Peter Dolving on the new Haunted (a good comparative, because Dolving and Stanne are some of the smarter, better lyricists in this field). Still, the whole “voice as an instrument” philosophy applies, Stanne intensifying to match the relentlessly churning music, which still is of the utmost quality, personality, and magnetism in this field. If you want pure, consistently loud, undistilled, not-so-dynamic Dark Tranquillity, this is the record for you, a record that should easily cause neck damage in all who grouse about In Flames and all their experiments.