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Between the extravagant The Gallery and Projector pushing melodic death’s boundaries, you have this unmemorable (but not unavoidable) hunk of ritual waste. Production beefed up all the instruments, Stanne honed his vocals, and the band’s tone grew even darker than before (probably the darkest it ever got). Two music videos were spawned and the band’s mother, Mrs. Century Media, pressed reissues - but who really gave two shits about this album? Twelve songs really pushed the time limit and there wasn’t a whole lot you could do with the formula to keep people in their seats before turning this off.
As I previously mentioned, Stanne really nailed his vocals down for the first time in his singing career. His growls here are wretched like a lion’s ferocious roar, and the lasting power of them reigns over the riffs and their tonality boost, as well. Between them, the album’s authority beats out everything else the band had released at the time – nothing they recorded up to this point could compete in terms of aggression and intensity, but the band did themselves in by killing off their harmonies. On previous albums you could always look forward to leads throwing you into the furnace of classical bliss, but this one shows very little of those and instead goes straight for melodic riffs and breaks instead. In some respect this works for songs individually, but as a whole it makes for an incredibly redundant and one-dimensional album with very little lasting value.
Their style here would follow them onto Projector, which further perfected their sound that continues to this very day. However, that album lacks the cryptic, hedonistic darkness that clouds over this one like Morgoth’s (Tolkien reference) fart clouds. The passages accompanying this one are beautiful in a reflective, somber way as opposed to the classical, descriptive flare that engulf The Gallery. That album doesn’t touch this one in terms of boiled anger, but then again that one doesn’t contain constant blasting and dull personality. Not even the bass, with its droopy booms and cranky grumbles, has the decency to rescue this album (save for a couple tracks).
The tempo remains mid-paced throughout, with songs like “Zodijackyl Light,” “Atom Heart 243.5,” and “Dissolution Factor Red” racing a little faster. The more enigmatic tracks like “Hedon,” “Constant,” “Still Moving Sinews,” and “Tidal Tantrum” hold the best riffs and passages that’ll tingle your spine, which was supposed to be the point of the album. The whole thing intended to be gloomy and penchant, but it only gets the second half down correctly. The gloominess comes when you find yourself sitting in an awkward position just to level out the boredom you’ll be feeling when listening to this. Drumming is fluent in consistency, never letting up one moment of lazy relapse like many death metal drummers think they can get away with. Jivarp’s kit sounds so beefy and strong that it’ll be the bane of your eardrums (in a good way).
In terms of composition, this may be Dark Tranquillity’s most progressive / experimental / intellectual release, especially considering how simplistic their music has been for the last ten years. That doesn’t make this one the best since it bores me to death, but there’s tough love to be found here that truly fits the gap between the early releases and the later ones. The foundations cemented by The Mind’s I would act as the same foundation for later albums, as the style hasn’t necessarily been altered too much (they just focused on the riffs and threw keys in). It’s a mixed bag for me, but it might be Santa’s bag or a garbage bag for you.