For whatever reason, a lot of Swedish death metal seems to be created by the inordinately young, and often, the inordinately skilled for their age. Even before ENTOMBED released Clandestine, and at the same time that AT THE GATES was gelling its impulses, the members of DARK TRANQUILLITY, only 15 and 16 themselves, were putting together high-intensity death metal that was more melodic than the common offerings of the time, but whose stylistic bent would be adopted by hordes younger replacements within a matter of years.
The now-classics that emerged from Stockholm managed to channel their youthfulness into solid composition without succumbing to it as such. Unfortunately for DARK TRANQUILLITY, the band’s compositions of the period bear the weight of their ambitious minds rather poorly; seemingly decent ideas are too-far fractured to be remembered long, and what remains are riffs — often well-written riffs — but only that, parsed through series of confusing time signature changes and strange juxtapositions of melody. As demo material it is probably suitable, but its broader importance was over-inflated by the incestuous Swedish scene, as well as the playful dress-up of simpler ideas that became more conspicuously pursued by the band itself as time moved on.
This is just one tale among many of bands who were almost there, damned by any number of circumstances or peculiarities. It is interesting to reflect on them in the context of better things.