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If Dark tranquillity have an album in their regular discography that has been overlooked, it's for sure 'The mind's I', which had to carry on the difficult task of being the heir to the 1995 classic 'The gallery' and set the ground for the groundbreaking 1998 release 'Projector'. In addition to being between such two relevant works in the career of the band, the very fact that Dark tranquillity decided to go for a much darker sound just makes this album more of a rare bug.
Make no mistake, 'The mind's I' is undoubtedly a Dark tranquillity album, sporting the same level of technical finesse of the rest of their works, both in lyrics and music, and all of it finished with an exceptional execution. 'The mind's I' is still in the pre-electronica age of the band, which means that we don't have keyboards, and instead there are acoustic guitars and female voices at some points. I particularly don't prefer one age over the other, but some may like more the old sound of the band. The general sound goes into a much darker tone than 'The gallery', leaving the almost-pseudo-jazzy guitar work of most themes that album, and going into heavily distorted guitar sound accompanied by Mikael Stanne's magnificent as ever voice. The band still preserves its melodic tendence, but it's definitely a much darker album than the previous two.
In terms of lyrics, 'The mind's I' still has lyrics written by both Sundin and Stanne, and Sundin's writing is recognizable in themes like 'Hedon' or 'Tongues', that feature his characteristical bizarre and surrealist poetry. Stanne writes more or less in that fashion too, and it's nice because his lyrics are much more complex than seen in Projector, for example. The lyrics to this album are definitely magnificent and really give it a second dimension rather than just the sound, what has always been a very good thing about Dark tranquillity's work.
'The mind's I', in its original version (not the new re-release) includes 12 tracks, all of them in the level Dark tranquillity has its fans accustomed to. The best tracks in my opinion are 'Dreamlore degenerate' (a very good opening theme), 'Hedon' (long-winded and semi-progressive theme with Sundin lyrics and a vocal contribution by Anders Fridén), 'Scythe, rage and roses' (a short and rather brutal trash/death headbanger with a drum-killer of an ending), 'Insanity's crescendo' (long and magnificent theme with lots of acoustic guitar and female vocals by Sara Svensson) and 'Tongues' (very good ending theme with some spine-tickling moments). The rest of tracks are very good by themselves, but wind up as a bit boring in the context of the whole album.
All in all, 'The mind's I' is a rather different approach on melodic death metal with some new musical features, magnificent songwriting, and the exceptional execution provided by these Swedes. It'll be an interesting album for those who want to see Dark tranquillity at full power without resorting to their last electronic headcrusher, 'Character', and it's definitely one of the albums they can exploit for concerts, since most of its songs are real headbangers. On the dark side of things, it also gets boring at times. Oh, and the prints in the booklet are almost unreadable (wonderful booklet design otherwise).