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Existing as an amalgam of B-sides from The Mind's I sessions, the performance and approach here are both naturally quite shaky and lacking in some of the killer instinct present on classics like The Gallery. This was clearly a period of identity crisis for the band, and it persisted until they finally emptied their experimental accretions on Projector.
Most of these songs come off as less polished The Gallery material. That's not to say there is a lack of quality songwriting and singeing melodic passages though. It definitely has an appeal, as Johansson's leads are animated and always popping up where you least expect them. "Razorfever" actually has some solid galloping sections and sticky leadwork. Even as it later devolves into typical Dark Tranquillity posturing, the surge of the melodies take center stage above the burly rhythm section in a potent manner. The Iron Maiden-esque leads that open "Shadowlit Facade" are searing and memorable, as they give way to Stanne's parched roar with Henriksson's overdriven bass grumbling in the forefront of the mix.
To address the elephant in the room, "Archetype" is a complete waste of time from a metal standpoint. It is seriously a throbbing techno beat with samples of Stanne's past lyrics repeated ad nauseam over the churning dance drums. Swells of distortion ebb and flow throughout in a vain effort to keep the entire thing heavy. This theme is hinted at during the beginning of "Razorfever", but the listener can't possibly be prepared for this atypical curveball in any sense. The guitars come off as an afterthought as the synthetic nature of the song is just so abrasive and overwhelming. The first time I heard it I literally burst out laughing (which takes a lot to pull off if you are privy to my taste), but it isn't the worst thing ever. It sounds like it was constructed using tracker software, and as such it absolutely screams of the soundtrack to the PC game Unreal Tournament.
What confounds me is why Enter Suicidal Angels was released prior to The Mind's I as opposed to after, since this material is not a terribly cohesive representation of that album's melodic workings. "Zodijackyl Light" is the only song here that actually appears on the group's oft-overlooked 1997 album, forcing the rest of this material into obscurity. That isn't to say some of this doesn't deserve to be buried where few can find it, but I would personally love to see mode polished incarnations of both "Razorfever" and "Shadowlit Facade". They would benefit greatly from less archaic production values and have some potential. Worth seeking out for die-hard fans and those looking for a laugh.
Zodijackyl Light is a great simultaneously speedy, aggressive, and melodic song. It's a very strong opener and a good song choice for DT to make a video for, and repeat on the next album, The Mind's I. It's obviously the same band that made The Gallery, with melodies that are just a bit less epic and a bit more dark, and some progressive rhythms thrown in for spice. Cool. The ending is weird, it's some weird techno programming that fades in between the first track and Razorfever. But in the context it actually sounds pretty cool, and manages to be powerful and effective when the thrashy opening riff to Track 2 comes in. Razorfever even manages to have some Gallery-esque real epic leads thrown in. It definitely sounds like it could have been something off it, or the Of Chaos and Eternal Night EP. That plus the aggression makes a really great song - the clean part also sounds really awesome. Both the first two tracks are kind of new and experimental but both get a 10/10 in my book. The third track, Shadowlit Facade, continues the strength of the first two. This is a mid-paced ballad type song that, in fact, sounds like it came right of The Gallery. That's probably why it was put on this EP and not The Mind's I. Though I have not yet written a review for The Gallery - know this: sounding like it is a good thing. This song has no flaw.
Now we get to the WTF part. After those three extremely strong songs that should have been either the entire EP or a single for Zodijackyl Light or something, we hit Archetype. This is the worst Dark Tranquillity song ever made, unless they somehow get really bad in the future. But as of 2007, it's the worst. It is techno. Straight up techno, with a programmed drum beat, some stupid synthey bass and programming crap, and samples of some of Stanne's screaming from earlier songs. Now, it's kind of a fun song, and not completely unlistenable, but it is a complete bastardization of the epic beauty that is Dark Tranquillity. I am glad the most experimental they ever got was Projector, and they never went this far *shudder*. So if the EP was only three tracks, it'd get an 100. But for that last one, I have to downgrade to an 85. This is worth getting for a hardcore fan I guess, if you get it on The Mind's I re-release. Otherwise just download the first three tracks and go buy The Gallery.