Back in the early '90s Sweden's DARK TRANQUILLITY were laying the foundations for a style of metal that they could call their own. Having identified the limitations within the strict and rigid framework of the downtrodden death metal genre, DARK TRANQUILLITY began experimenting with and incorporating advanced melodic patterns and non-linear song structures into their intense, aggressive and accomplished music. Last year's Projector showcased DARK TRANQUILLITY's ability to expand their musical borders and constantly challenge their listeners: That diverse and introspective album brought home euphoric reviews and even got the band nominated in the Hard Rock category in the Swedish Grammy awards. 2000 brings yet another new opus from DT, perhaps even more ripened than its predecessor, the monstrous and challenging Haven.
Formed in 1989, DARK TRANQUILLITY have had a huge influence on the European underground scene, pioneering the now-archetypal style that journalists and fans have dubbed the "Gothenburg sound" (alluding to their native town in Sweden of course). This term is characterized with dueling guitar harmonies and complex song structures combined with an intense aural assault rooted in the '80s thrash tradition, although with a more melodic approach. Within the first several years DT released three full-length recordings and two EPs (the first two on Spinefarm and the next three on Osmose) and became one of the most heralded and talked-about bands in the entire Scandinavian metal movement. Their third full-length The Mind's I and its preceding EP Enter Suicidal Angels displayed the expected DARK TRANQUILLITY trademarks and characteristics, however the songs began to get shorter and more compressed, focusing on energy and vitality while still retaining the accurate sense of melody that have graced the band's past material. In early 1999 the band signed a deal with Century Media Records, who released the band's 1999 album Projector to the entire world. Projector was the band's most dynamic work to date, seething with technical power while representing more progression for the group in terms of creative maturity and approach. Mikael Stanne's voice was more effective and identifying than ever, while the playing of guitarists Niklas Sundin (who actually writes lyrics for fellow Swedes In Flames) and Fredrik Johansson amazed even the most selective of metal fan. The core elements of DARK TRANQUILLITY (who are rounded out with bassist Martin Henriksson and drummer Anders Jivarp) were very present, while newer influences and approaches were also integrated, resulting in an album that was as modern as it was impacting, and as aspiring as it was identifiable. Their European tour with In Flames, Children Of Bodom and label mates Arch Enemy did not only fulfill the dreams of every true Gothenburg-sound disciple, but turned out to be a triumphant advance for lovers of intelligent, extreme music that dares to embrace melody. Soon it was followed by two successful shows in the land of the rising sun with Soilwork, filling the overflow of Japanese crowds with rabid enthusiasm.
Spurred by their numerous, fresh impressions from the road, DARK TRANQUILLITY felt the need to explore some new musical territories (being adventurous as always) with Haven, but on the other hand also go back to some of their harsher roots. The songs are solid and immediate, and the more laid-back sonics of Projector are replaced by an expressive and more direct approach. Tracks like "Fabric" and "Emptier Still" show a modern, contemporary side of the band, while the likes of "Feast Of Burden" is without any doubt classic DARK TRANQUILLITY material. Haven is the first recording featuring new members Martin Brändström and Michael Nicklasson, further adding to their revitalized spirit and ongoing innovation that flows throughout this album, and which surely ranks as another very special and precious piece of metallic art. DARK TRANQUILLITY are metal virtuosity, and their songs couldn't be any more injecting and refreshing as they are now.