Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Dark Tranquillity Kataklysm, Nailed To Obscurity

Doors | 7:00 pm // Show | 8:00 pm

Dark Tranquillity

Melodic death metal phenoms DARK TRANQUILLITY herald uncertain times on their new album, Endtime Signals. The Swedish outfit made their mark indelible with The Gallery (1995), Damage Done (2002), Fiction (2007) and the Grammy-winning Moment (2020) but are now venturing into the skyline beyond. By harnessing the chaos/despair of our day and embracing family—former members Fredrik Johansson (R.I.P. 2022) and Niklas Sundin contributed to two songs—DARK TRANQUILLITY break through apathy, fragility and wickedness on Endtime Signals. Mikael Stanne (vocals), Martin Brändström (keyboards), Johan Reinholdz (guitars), Joakim Strandberg Nilsson (drums) and Christian Jansson (bass) empower our passions, light our darkness and blaze us away from annihilation throughout the album’s 12-song sweep, but it’s singles “The Last Imagination”, “Unforgivable” and “Not Nothing” where they focus wholeheartedly on the journey.

“It’s an inspiration to have new musicians [Joakim and Christian] in DARK TRANQUILLITY,” says Brändström, spotlighting recent lineup changes. “There’s new flavors with new musicians. Joakim is a very technical drummer. He opened up new avenues of composing music. With that energy, we thought it would be cool to revisit faster songs. Christian, who is from Pagandom, understood who the band are and already knew what we’ve done—I think he’s been in our orbit since day one. They’re both highly motivated. So, figuring out the album we wanted to make wasn’t a stretch for them. Musically, it’s melancholy neighboring rage. The world is futile, and our music gives us (the band and our fans) the power to do something about it. We’re standing strong, confronting things head-on”.

Endtime Signals is tried and true DARK TRANQUILLITY. It has white-hot aggression (“Unforgiveable”), ballads (“One of Us Is Gone”), balance (“The Last Imagination”), moody movie-like scores (“Our Disconnect”) and ominous proclamations (“A Bleaker Sun”). Yet, this time, it all feels different. The Gothenburgers are, in a way, starting anew. The lineup has changed—both Strandberg Nilsson and Jansson are new to the fold—and so too has life and everything it’s thrown at the band. The storm clouds have profoundly affected the Swedes. With Reinholdz helming the songwriting with Brändström, the story that began with We Are the Void (2010) has ended. Endtime Signals is a darker, grittier, more resolute DARK TRANQUILLITY. Whereas Moment spun positivity into the zeitgeist, Endtime Signals is less optimistic. The lyrics by longtime wordsmith Stanne reflect that.

“The last time I wrote was before the pandemic”, Stanne says, who described Endtime Signals as absolutely cathartic. “It was time to deal with some of that. Many things happened when we started writing for this album a year and a half ago. We lost a lot of friends like Fredrik [Johansson]. The world seemed like a more hostile place overall. We have new guys in the band, too. We felt like we had to make an album that needed to be taken very seriously. So, it’s everything I’ve been thinking about for the last two years. We’re destroying our lives, world, atmosphere and reality systems. It’s so hard to get along and agree on things now. There’s a lot of doomsday feeling in this album. I asked myself, how do

we get ourselves out of this? I felt helpless and insignificant. All this spiraled into what I’d call a ‘light depression’. Writing was my only way out of it”.

DARK TRANQUILLITY recorded Endtime Signals at Rogue Music, Nacksving Studios and Fascination Street Studios. The band spent endless hours at producer Brändström’s Rogue Music in Gothenburg, recording guitars, bass, keyboards/electronics and vocals. Strandberg Nilsson’s drums were ferried to Jens Bogren’s Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, where engineer Alexander Backlund (Soen, Dödsrit) knocked it out of the park. The strings, prominently woven into the touching Johansson tribute “One of Us Is Gone”, as performed by members of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, were, along with additional guitars, finalized at Nacksving Studios, also in Gothenburg. Jens Bogren (Ihsahn, At The Gates) expertly handled the mix and master. All told, DARK TRANQUILLITY was nestled in Endtime Signals production from October 2023 to March 2024. The arduous toil resulted in a magnificently-sounding endeavor of artful perfection and human intelligence. Whether it’s the aggro-melodic sharpness of opener “Shivers and Voids,” the crushing weight of “Drowned Out Voices,” the dystopian vibes of “Our Disconnect,” or the Niklas Sundin-inflected “False Reflection,” Endtime Signals has an unmistakable halo.

“We already knew Jens was going to mix—that was obvious from the beginning”, Reinholdz says, revealing DARK TRANQUILLITY’s propensity to plan in advance. “We felt it made sense for the drums to be recorded with Alex at Fascination Street Studios, but there was a long pre-production period. I’d say Martin’s in everything the deepest, but our process is very democratic. Me, Martin, Mikael and, to some extent, Joakim were constantly revising the songs. We’d play off one another. There’s a lot of nuance in our work, especially with the riffs, where the solos fit in and how the keyboards sound against it all. That took a lot of time. I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out”.

Former guitarist Sundin has had a direct hand in—whether via his name or design studio, Cabin Fever Media—DARK TRANQUILLITY’s art direction going back to the early ’90s. The industrious Swede has also played a significant design role in bands like Arch Enemy, In Flames and At The Gates, to name a few. Reprising his long-standing position as their go-to visual innovator, Sundin crafted a cover that’s as striking as the music and portentous as the lyrics: the shadowy hues and simple lines telegraph DARK TRANQUILLITY’s new posture. The sun is blurred black, the heavens have violently opened and the duo on the cover embrace an unfortunate ascension. The Endtime Signals have indeed begun.

“The basic sketches and some of the more refined drawings were done with old-fashioned pen on paper”, Sundin says, who was involved from the very beginning. “I still feel that this is the most direct and intuitive method. After scanning the illustrations, the rest of the work was done in the digital
realm (though still mostly hand-drawn in the sense that I use a Wacom tablet). I think this analog-to-digital method mirrors the music well; there’s a human component where one values tradition and craftsmanship, but at the same time, there’s a lot of forward-thinking as well”.

Many albums define the times. Just as Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss symbolizes the ’90s, Opeth’s Ghost Reveries the aughts and Watain’s Lawless Darkness the tenties, DARK TRANQUILLITY’s Endtime Signals



the album of our day. The 12 impactful, powerful songs on offer speak to our inward-moving souls, question our increasingly selfish motives and act defiantly as wedge in the darkness. They do so with remarkable finesse. Will we see the signs and understand the humble yet gifted language of DARK TRANQUILLITY’s Endtime Signals? Yes, we will.


Born in 1992 from the cold winds of Montreal, Québec, Canada comes one of the country’s top extreme musical exports to date:  KATAKLYSM.

Relentlessness and a hard work ethic have made KATAKLYSM a household name in the extreme metal genre in addition to their overwhelmingly positive reputation of fan-friendliness.  With a career spanning over 20 years, KATAKLYSM is a leading force in the most brutal & powerful genre in heavy metal and has conquered territories such as Europe, North & South  America, Australia, and Asia while recently becoming the first Canadian metal band to ever play South Africa.

KATAKLYSM’s 2013 studio album, Waiting For The End To Come, experienced worldwide success in terms of album sales and touring.  Around the globe, the band played to full houses and paved new in-roads into Brazil, Japan, and South Africa where they played to their native fan bases for the very first time. That same year, KATAKLYSM won the “Metal Band of the Year” Award at the renowned Indie Awards ceremony in Ontario, Canada and soon after, was nominated in the “Best Metal/Hard Album of the Year” category at the prestigious Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent to an American Grammy).

Fueled by the loyalty of their legions of fans who have made so many of the band’s accomplishments possible in their nearly twenty-five years of existence, the members of KATAKLYSM become even more inspired, determined, and unapologetic in their rise to the top of their genre by any means necessary. It’s now 2015 and KATAKLYSM are at it again – like a train that can’t stop its raging momentum.

With the completion of their twelfth studio album, Of Ghosts And Gods, KATAKLYSM is prepared to unleash a tsunami of the best possible hurt among the masses.  Of Ghosts And Gods was recorded in three different studios from Montreal, Quebec to Dallas, Texas and Sanford, Florida in order to harness the expertise of the metal industry greats who best understood the band’s talents and their vision.  Album tracking was entrusted to longtime producer/ KATAKLYSM guitarist J-F Dagenais (Despised Icon, Misery Index, Malevolent Creation); KATAKLYSM frontman Maurizio Iacono recorded his vocals with producer Mark Lewis (Cannibal Corpse, Devildriver, White Chapel) at Audiohammer Studios; album mixing was masterfully handled by legendary producer Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Amon Amarth, Testament).

The result is Of Ghosts And Gods – a melodic affair of top notch brutality graced with intelligent songwriting. As expected, KATAKLYSM’s famous body-slamming riffs and grooves never falter. Upcoming artist Surtsey (Occvlta Designs) designed sinister album artwork depicting the reality of humanity’s beautifully disturbing existence and its impending death.  Endorsed by producer Mark Lewis as “KATAKLYSM‘s best album to date,” Of Ghosts And Gods demonstrates how – just like fine wine and an expert demolition crew – KATAKLYSM just keeps getting better with age.

Nailed To Obscurity