Dark Tranquillity's Mikael Stanne Picks 5 Best Swedish Death-Metal Albums | Revolver

Dark Tranquillity's Mikael Stanne Picks 5 Best Swedish Death-Metal Albums

Gothenburg great hails essential works by Dissection, Entombed and more
dark tranquillity mikael stanne PRESS 2020, Daniel Falk
photograph by Daniel Falk

Revolver has teamed with Dark Tranquillity for an exclusive, limited-edition "Translucent Highlighter Yellow" vinyl variant of their new album, Moment. It's limited to just 200 worldwide, so get yours before they're gone!

Since forming in 1989, Sweden's Dark Tranquillity have been at ground zero of the Gothenburg melodic death-metal movement. Over 12 studio albums — from 1993 debut Skydancer to this year's Moment — they've weathered lineup changes, lockdowns and much more to emerge as one of the most influential and enduring acts of that storied scene.

Mikael Stanne has been there since the beginning — starting off as Dark Tranquillity's founding guitarist before moving over to vocals in 1994 when original singer Anders Fridén left to front equally important act In Flames. Which is to say: Stanne knows a thing or two about Swedish extreme music. Below, he offers up his favorite death-metal albums created by his countrymen.

Merciless - The Awakening (1990)

This for me is the one that combined the intensity of thrash and the ferocity of death metal in the best possible way. There is a sense of urgency and this beautiful sense of a band wanting to play better and faster than they are really capable of ... there is something about trying that hard that I love in early Nineties death metal. Strong songs and fierce vocals that were a huge inspiration to me and Anders Fridén as we started our band. 

Dissection - The Somberlain (1993)

I have such great memories of the early days of Dissection. Hearing their first demo and starting to tape trade with [bandleader] Jon [Nödtveidt] in the late Eighties was how I got into them. We did a show in the summer of '91 together, and I remember hearing some of their newer stuff that had not yet come out on demo and I was blown away. The Somberlain has so much youthful energy and incredible experimentation along with strong melodies and songs that stay with you forever. And the King Diamond–inspired cover art by Kristian Whålin [a.k.a Necrolord] is just perfection. Essential.

Entombed - Left Hand Path (1990)

A classic for what it did for the genre, but also for how it defined the Stockholm death-metal scene at the time. This was the sound everyone wanted — and still do to a certain extent. It's dirty and brutal and shows that there is something else driving these guys than just a wish to be as brutal as their favorite death-metal bands. You can hear so much more coming through the wall of [Boss] HM-2 pedal-induced distortion. I had seen Nihilist [the members of which went on to form Entombed] play here in town once and I was a fan, but when I heard the first Entombed demo and then this life-altering debut I was sold for life.

Unanimated - Ancient God of Evil (1995)

I remember being confused with this record: Was it a side project or a real band? Was it black metal or death? I couldn't figure it out, but I kept spinning the CD and l love how this feels experimental and free in a way. It's groovy and melancholy while also being downright evil sounding and yet incredibly melodic. Definitely a sometimes overlooked classic.

Eucharist - A Velvet Creation (1993)

What the hell was going on in Veddige [Sweden] in the early Nineties? I remember hearing a Eucharist song called "The View" on a compilation CD [1993's Deaf Metal Sampler] … and being really impressed wondering what the hell this band was. And then when this album finally came out I couldn't believe it. Just brilliant adventurous metal unlike anything I had heard at the time and I had no idea who they were. The metal scene was of course tiny at the time, so you somehow assumed you knew all that was going on — but this took me by surprise. But I really loved it and it has since somehow been included when we talk about the Gothenburg scene, which seems a bit strange to me — but I really don't mind since this is an absolute classic.