There have been pivotal changes for Gothenburg Metal pioneers DARK TRANQUILLITY, as they faced lineup replacements since 2013’s Construct . With these new adjustments, I was surprised to hear about the announcement of the eleventh studio album Atoma via Century Media Records last summer that finally releases on November 4. However, unexpected and uncontrolled events are what Atoma is all about as it captures the bleak realities of the human existence.
The album slowly begins with “Encircled” as it streams its way to an explosive tune after the vocals take over. Mikael Stanne leads this song as he faces reality that “our time is running out,” while the pace accelerates to exemplify this flustered emotion. Melancholic realizations continue with “Atoma” as Stanne expresses the unfairness we are surrounded by in this world as he truthfully states, “This land was never given, we built this on our own.” Next up is “Forward Momentum” a song about moving forward and to not reflect on past regrets as it launches with a sharp guitar riff while breaking down through the use of electronic accompaniments. .
“Neutrality,” comes in next and draws you in where I got lost by feeling completely mesmerized due to its consistent build up. “Force of Hand” slows down slightly and there are a few dark moments with the broad mix of the keyboard and bass. Tensions rise with the next “Faithless By Default” as the keyboard flows with the lyrics especially when Stanne cries out, “We lost our way,” and “The only dream that matters, is the one you wake up from.” This is the turning point of the album, where there is no room for light as it continues to reflect the reality of the human psyche.
“The Pitiless” begins with a coarse and aggressive pace and the middle of the song brings an intensified guitar solo. Shortly after, Stanne cries out lines such as “Right here, Right now, we stand alone.” The speed changes when “Our Proof Of Life” enters with a mix between slow and cumbersome while maintaining a catchy introduction. The song is about not being ready to let go, The melody changes with the use of guitar riffs while the heartbreaking certainty continues. Simply put, it is the most depressing track on the album thus far.
I thought there was some hope when “Clearing Skies” came on as it began with uplifting electronics alluding that the morbid moment had passed. While enjoying the serene guitar work, I noticed a return of the gloom with lyrics such as “We lie to ourselves to live. It continues to rip into the realities of suffering and pain, while one would only hope for a clearing in our own gray skies. “When the World Screams” is one of the heavier songs as it is filled with melodic breakdowns, annihilating riffs and intense kick drum pedaling.
“Merciless Fate” has a haunting and slow introduction. It progresses into a sinister pace as Stanne vocalizes facing terms with reality. The final track “Caves and Embers,” opens with an anxious pacing on the drums as the instruments slowly build to find the main hook and melody. The tune shifts throughout, as though one is searching for a reason to their own personal existence. Atoma is a morbid reflection on the realities of our existence as it gives the listener an honest perspective with the enhancement of various musical arrangements. 2016 has been a competitive year in releases, and this record should be at least considered for one of its best.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Clearing Skies”, “Faithless By Default”, “Caves and Embers”, “When the World Screams”