DARK TRANQUILLITY
"Where Death is Most Alive"

(Century Media)

For more information, go to Amazon.com.

RATING: 8/10

Sweden's DARK TRANQUILLITY may not get the same level of attention as peers AT THE GATES and IN FLAMES, but the sextet is just as important to what has become known as the Gothenburg sound. In fact, while AT THE GATES disbanded and IN FLAMES went in different, more commercially accessible directions, post-Anders Fridén DARK TRANQUILLITY has mostly stayed true to its unique, keyboard-peppered sound, while further developing the melodic end of it, the experimental phases notwithstanding. Later efforts like "Character", "Damage Done", and "Fiction" saw the band really come into its own, resulting in an ever-expanding fan base. With "Where Death is Most Alive", fans get a professionally packaged DVD with an outstanding live performance and a historical documentary of the band, while the newbies get a nice cross section of the material with an emphasis on the latter years.

The twenty-song (plus one "Intro") set in Milan, Italy on Disc 1 is a career spanning — albeit, geared toward the last few albums — one that highlights the band's knack for impacting songwriting. The adoring Italian audience devours the longer than normal set, the rabid devotees eating out of frenetic front man Mikael Stanne's hands and singing along to not only every lyric, but also most of the instrumental parts. The performance is tight as hell and the band plays each song as if it were a career closing set. Newer songs like "Focus Shift", "Nothing to No One", "Misery's Crown", and set closer "Terminus (Where Death is most Alive)" go over especially well due to the band's ever-developing mastery of melody. As if that weren't enough, the band offers the audience a special treat when THEATRE OF TRAGEDY siren Nell Sigland is brought out to sing on "The Mundane and the Magic" and "Insanity's Crescendo". The yellowish, purposeful semi-grainy visuals are marginally distracting, but that's about my only complaint, and a minor one at that.

Disc 2 features "Out of Nothing - the DT Documentary" and is a 47-minute tour of the band's history with an emphasis on the early years and includes insightful commentary from the likes of producer Fredrik Nordström (DREAM EVIL) and Tomas Lindberg (AT THE GATES, et al). The guided tour of the band's humble beginnings in small town Sweden, which includes a return to the garage that started it all — from the days when Anders Fridén (IN FLAMES) served as lead vocalist — is particularly noteworthy, as is the footage documenting those years. The obligatory collection of music videos and a 21-song live archive, featuring those early Fridén performances round out the second disc. If you are a fan or simply an interested party, the tour is well worth taking.

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