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The Albums Skydancer & the Gallery by Swedish Melodic Death Metal Band Dark Tranquillity Which One Is Better?

Updated on June 20, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

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This Article Will Basically Focus on the Early Years of Dark Tranquillity Which Are 1989 Through 1995

Back in February 2016, readers got a brief review of the album Skydancer by Swedish melodic death metal band Dark Tranquillity but now the focus will be on their 1995 mini album called Of Chaos and Eternal Night. Note: that article is no longer in existence but you are going to get a very detailed review and analysis of two albums that set the foundation for the band's early years. Well this is the first part of at least three parts as the article takes a look at the early years of Swedish melodic death metal band Dark Tranquillity. This was re-released along with Skydancer but readers might ask how good this mini album is? Before we address that, I have now decided to take a look at Skydancer as it has been over 25 years since this band’s debut album was released. Note: as this review is expanding we will now shift our focus to whether Skydancer is a better album than The Gallery. Making a straight quick judgement as to which album of Dark Tranquillity’s is better of these first two is tough. Also, since I have the re-mastered version of the album Skydancer which has the mini album Of Chaos and Eternal Night, there will be a review of that four song release as well.

As an unrelated side note, it is helpful to drink a glass of water in the morning, do some meditation, and then you can pretty much ease your way into either of these two studio albums.

This photo symbolizes not only the album title of Skydancer but it also shows that a true fan of the melodic death metal genre will love the album.
This photo symbolizes not only the album title of Skydancer but it also shows that a true fan of the melodic death metal genre will love the album. | Source

Skydancer The Review

Since we are now in 2020, how has this album fared all these years? It still sounds melodic, fresh and in some ways brilliant too even though the voice of Anders is not as polished on this album as it would be starting in around 2002 or so. This time period (1993 and earlier) was a time in which there were so many ideas as the metal genre was changing. Dark Tranquillity was formed in 1989 but they are perhaps the founders of the Gothenburg style of melodic death metal. Skydancer isn't your traditional style of death metal but for the time that it was written it is a darn good album from one of the greatest Swedish artists of any musical genre!

Nightfall By the Shore of Time starts that Dark Tranquillity journey into musical excellence as the four elements fire, Earth, water, and wind are mentioned but the lyrics are complicated to interpret at times. Even though Of Chaos and Eternal Night was released in 1995, it is not quite 25 years since its release but it is close enough anyway. Away, Delight, Away is a complex lyrical song about infinity being eternal in that it never dies. When our minds are still young, we can absorb all there is to know about this vast and infinite Universe which we are all a part of and the band knew this concept very well. There is so much that can be said about Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity that we could talk about so many aspects of their music and career. They have set a standard of excellence in the melodic death metal genre that is tough to match. Soilwork is not as good either though they deserve credit as well. A Bolt of Blazing Gold starts with beautiful yet intricate acoustic guitars. The album’s cover is appropriate showing the sky opening up into the heavens as the sky is so vast it seems like that can go on forever.It also may imply that there is unlimited potential for the free flow of musical ideas and Dark Tranquillity is certainly skilled in being able to experiment musically and create a solid album pretty much every time! Crimson Winds has this sort of refreshing lead guitar part.

We cannot forget the beautiful beginning of the song called Through Ebony Archways which to this day is still my favorite song in the Skydancer album. The song builds up into this almost ballad song as Mikael Stanne does the clean vocal part in this song as there is a reference to a silent man in the tower. This song and Shadow Duet are the two most memorable moments in which there are clean vocal parts and back in 1993 when this album was first released, such an approach musically would have been unheard of for any melodic death metal ban but in these two instances, those clean parts fit in well particularly in song #6.

"Shadow Duet"

Anders Friden the Former Vocalist for Dark Tranquillity That Sings On the Skydancer Album

Anders Friden used to sing for Dark Tranquillity until he left and was replaced by Mikael Stanne.
Anders Friden used to sing for Dark Tranquillity until he left and was replaced by Mikael Stanne. | Source

About the Mini Album Of Chaos And Eternal Night

Of Chaos and Eternal Night starts with the title track and this one right away is vintage Dark Tranquillity which features the drumming style, melodic riffs and the usual growling vocals of Mikael Stanne who takes over the vocal duties from Anders Friden. The title track lyrically is about a tale told by someone that likes to explore extremes. The darkness is not a threat to this man’s existence as he admires the crows that take over as night falls upon the Earth. Even though I was going to do a separate review on just this mini-album, it is probably better now to include this along with Skydancer as what readers now see is a good double album by one of Sweden’s finest melodic death metal bands. I did almost a similar review of Metallica’s St. Anger back in 2010 seven years after it was released in 2003 but Dark Tranquillity’s Skydancer released in August 1993 is an album that has stood the test of time as far as melodic death metal albums are concerned.

"Through Ebony Archways"

The Gallery In Depth Review & Analysis

Okay well, I have decided to give another analysis of the band’s 1995 studio album The Gallery simply because it is often times referred to as a masterpiece from that era and that is not too far from the truth. Songs such as Edenspring with its guitar work being soft as the song builds up shows once again that these guys are not just about speed at all. Even though The Gallery was released in November 1995, in 2020 it will be 25 years since its release so we might as well cover its importance a bit ahead of time. Even if the band had said that acoustic guitars with the use of clean vocals were unorthodox for this time period, these two aspects are the foundation of the melodic death metal genre. The one Brooding Warning is one of those songs that we have not really touched upon yet and it could be one of those forgotten songs by some fans. The song is basically trying to tell us that in this world of our things are not always as they appear so be careful of deceptive forces. As I mentioned in my separate review of The Gallery, Lethe may be the finest moment of this album if not the band’s career at that time. The acoustic guitar is so magically composed that it leads into one of the finest songs ever in any genre of music. I hope that even those of you that are not fans of the genre can appreciate the beauty of this song! The song lyrically is a sarcastic way of looking at life as drinking the certain fluid rather than cleansing us can make us feel like we hate others. Who would have known that this person back in 1998 (me) would have even gotten into melodic death metal and I’m glad that I did and in 2020 I see the brilliance of an excellent band of the genre.

Skydancer Versus The Gallery

Which one of these two Dark Tranquillity Albums is the Better One?

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"My Friend of Misery" Dark Tranquillity Covers Metallica

Final Thoughts About This Comprehensive Review of "The Gallery"

Bottom line: The Gallery is the better album of these first two as the guitar work, melodies, and vocals all fit in well together and back then, Mikael Stanne was the better vocalist for this band. I am sure most fans of the genre will agree that The Gallery is a melodic death metal masterpiece almost 25 years later and even at that time for those of us that were old enough to know about this genre of metal.

I may consider looking back at “The Gallery” in a different way in 2020 when the album turns 25 and for a special album such as this, such an analysis is definitely worth it.

Note: November 2020 will be upon us soon enough and then we can officially say that “The Gallery” turns 25 years old. The album is one of the most varied in the melodic death metal genre. From the fast, technical riffing in the song Punish My Heaven to the soft start in songs such as Edenspring, this album has variety that back then should have been a genre defining album and more than likely is. However, we also cannot forget about where Dark Tranquillity began their career as Skydancer uses many of the same musical elements that you will hear on The Gallery such as the acoustic guitar passages, the heavy growls, and the melody. In fact, that different analysis has already begun as of June 2020. The Gallery was reissued on April 5, 2005. There is an expanded edition of the album which has five bonus tracks. These tracks are cover songs that Dark Tranquillity did. These include covers of Iron Maiden’s 22 Acacia Avenue and Metallica’s My Friend of Misery. The songs Punish My Heaven and Lethe are on the band’s LIVE Damage album. This is the band’s first LIVE DVD album. This DVD is from their Damage Done tour. The Gallery is indeed a special album and it is perhaps so special that the band decided to release an expanded edition of this album.


"Punish My Heaven"

Additional Perspective on the Album "The Gallery"

What are other reviewers saying about this 1995 album that is basically a masterpiece of melodic death metal? A reviewer on the website Angry Metal Guy calls “The Gallery” a genre defining album and a case could certainly be made for this album to be just that. From the drum sound into a furious riffing structure in the song Punish My Heaven to the acoustic starting song Lethe, The Gallery has pretty much everything that you would hear in a melodic death metal album.

"Lethe"

© 2019 Ara Vahanian

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