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Haven: A Review of the Weakest Album by Dark Tranquillity—One of Sweden's Best Melodic Death Metal Bands

Updated on April 6, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Who Plays On The Album Haven?

Swedish melodic death metal band Dark Tranquillity entered the year 2000 having gone through an experimentation process with their previous album Projector. They also at that time had two new members join them. These members are Michael Nicklasson (bass guitar) and Martin Brandstrom (electronics and keyboards). Martin Henriksson who had played bass guitar for albums such as The Gallery and The Mind’s I switches to guitar for this album.

What Was The Motivation Behind The Review?

Sometimes you decide to review certain albums when you are listening to another artist. It is almost like a light bulb turns on in your head and you say “a-ha.” Note: it is November 2020 and we are giving Haven another review to determine if it really is the weakest album by Dark Tranquillity.

Why Is Dark Tranquillity So Great?

In 2000, the members of Dark Tranquillity were only in their 20’s but by this time, they already had three very good albums in a row and their experimentation has not been a detriment. In fact, this experimentation adds to their diversity as a band. Especially if you are going through a rough time in your life and you need motivation to get back on the right track, Dark Tranquillity can provide some relief other than taking a nap. Musically, the album builds on Projector as Mikael Stanne uses some softer growls.

"Haven" The Album Review In Brief As of 2017

Not Built to Last is a song about not having a secret last. Some secrets even though we think they might last, they end up breaking down. It is a part of the human condition that we get betrayed by others. Indifferent Suns is about the fact that although we may wonder whether the world will come to an end, there is a sense that our society has failed us particularly our younger generation. The sun will rise and set but the human race as we know it could have a time limit. Is that possible? We may never know for sure. The band’s philosophical approach makes the listener think deeper and ask thought provoking questions. The song also has a sort of Paradise Lost feel to it as well. Feast of Burden is a song that showcases the piano and electronic sounds that we heard on songs such as Freecard on the previous album. Haven is an atmospheric sounding song that is about what happens when the lights are shut off and it gets darker. As that happens, a dark side or some other kind of powerful force is let into the surrounding area. There is a noticeable quality about this band and that is that their lyrics are hard to comprehend because they are written in such a complex way. However, they are not nearly as complex as the lyrics of the band Theatre of Tragedy. Another quality that we don’t see in the album is the use of clean vocals for the most part. Fabric features the introduction of a bass line that is put in the middle of a song. Fabric is one of the weaker songs in the album in spite of the orchestration that kicks in.

"The Wonders At Your Feet"

Why Is Haven Is the Band's Weakest Album?

Unfortunately, as of the first review & analysis, Haven was one of the band’s weaker albums. In spite of the experimentation and orchestration, the songwriting is not nearly as good as the albums that these guys released in the 1990’s. The same band that is known for such classic songs as Punish My Heaven, Lethe, Insanity’s Crescendo, and Dreamlore Degenerate, cannot live to that excellence on this album. However, Haven is not a terrible album and it does have its good moments. But if history is any indication, these guys would return to their mastery, power and peak with 2007’s Fiction which may be their best album since 1995. However, just because the album is probably their weakest effort, it does not mean that it lacks musical quality. The first three songs especially the opener The Wonders At Your Feet has good guitar work mixed in with a good electronic sound. For the hardcore Dark Tranquillity fans, Haven may not appeal to them, but for those of you just starting to listen to this band, give these guys a chance! They are one of Sweden’s best bands to this day.

Haven Being The Weakest Album

Is Haven Dark Tranquillity's Weakest Album?

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Defining the Album's Title

The dictionary Merriam-Webster has three different meanings for the word Haven but for the purposes of this review and analysis, we will use the definition that defines Haven as a place that offers favorable opportunities and conditions. Dark Tranqullity was in a very favorable place or condition to experiment after their massive early success.

How Does Haven Sound As an Album 20 Years Later?

I know what some of you may say. Dark Tranquillity are one of the two best melodic death metal bands in Sweden and Haven is definitely different in its approach and sound compared to Skydancer and The Gallery. It uses keyboards and has a more electronic approach to it, something that the band began to experiment with in the album Projector. Two songs in, I am mostly impressed with this effort so far. But as you know, two songs do not make an album. Just as a cherry pie has several pieces to it, these two songs are two pieces of that pie basically. Feast of Burden is lyrically about going through so much adversity that it feels like you are being eaten alive from the inside out. It is not out of the question to say that Haven is an album that is growing on me and whatever Dark Tranquillity experiments with turns to gold.

"Not Built To Last"

Guitarist That Left Before the Release of Haven

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"Indifferent Suns"

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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