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DARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURN

Rating
40

DARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURN

With all due respect to Dark Tranquillity, the main contributor to the 401k (or its Swedish equivalent) of guitarist Niklas Sundin, they’re not the kind of band you listen to when you’ve got hammersmashing on the brain. Their melodies are a little too pleasant, their brutality too compromised by keyboards for an obstacle-free headbang session. The fact that the second record by Sundin’s side project Laethora is perfect for those times when you’ve got hammersmashing on the brain is but one reason among many why the band reigns supreme.

The Light In Which We All Burn removes all but the faintest traces of Dark Tranquillity’s melo-death and completely annuls all previous work by Laethora’s rhythm guitarist, bassist and drummer, who used to play in the defunct Swedish rock band The Provenance. What’s left is a document of unrelenting death metal savagery, inscribed by what’s essentially a five-member death metal rhythm section. Laethora don’t have to write great riffs with such a thick, chunky sound and fiendishly tight performances. But they do anyway. That mid-paced chugger at the 1:30 mark of “Uproar” could bring goose-stepping back in style.

The impact of The Light In Which We All Burn is as much psychological as it is musical. To an even greater extent than on their excellent debut, March of the Parasite, Laethora imbue each song on the album with an air of impending terror. “I As Infernal” and “To The Point” pummel home the gloom with charred blastbeats and palm-muting, “A.S.K.E.” scrapes it into our souls through abrasive, Tragedy-style hardcore, and “Damnable Doctrine” forcibly pounds it in under the weight of groaning doom. No matter how we find out, there is always something palpably wrong. Vocalist Jonatan Nordenstam sounds sad even as he’s howling his guttural pronouncements. Laethora are one of the few death metal bands on the planet that actually get me worried.

Like Bloodbath before them, Laethora’s music provides an outlet for the baser, more purely aggressive songwriting tendencies of Sundin and his bandmates. You can listen to The Light In Which We All Burn as a batch of ferocious, eccentric death metal, or hear it more psychologically: as the primal music that Laethora’s members had to make to maintain the artistic equilibrium set off by their other, less savage bands. Now we know that two decades of playing in Dark Tranquillity have done nothing to dilute the darkness flowing through Sundin’s blood. He’s not alone. We all burn in the light.

-SR

DARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURNDARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURNDARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURNDARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURNDARKER TRANQUILLITY: LAETHORA’S THE LIGHT IN WHICH WE ALL BURN

(4 1/2 out of 5 horns)

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