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Whatever was missing is gone. - 55%

Diamhea, February 1st, 2014

While viewing Manifesto of Dark Tranquillity as the compilation that it is, it certainly seems to serve it's purpose as a fairly compact, succinct taste of what the band has to offer. Every release starting with Projector is symbolized by at least three songs, save for four representing the then-new Fiction and the lukewarm Haven. So methodical is this approach that the listener almost forgets that most of the Johansson-era material is disregarded entirely. This is what rubs me the wrong way. Why include the most experimental full-length with Johansson: Projector, only to disregard the rest?

It doesn't even have to be linear, as albums like The Gallery would have made fine single-song contributions like the absolutely scorching "The Dividing Line" or "Punish My Heaven". These would have been much more welcomed in the procession compared to the limp-wristed title track from Haven. While the band naturally has to skew the material toward their more recent releases, even the tracks taken from Fiction are hit-or-miss. "Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)" almost has to be included as per it's mainstream sensibilities, but "The Lesser Faith" and "Misery's Crown" were most definitely not standouts from that album. I would have much rather had "Blind at Heart" or "Icipher", which are both catchier and more compact to begin with.

Damage Done comes out of this affair with the least amount of damage, although I personally would have swapped the faceless "Monochromatic Stains" with "Format C: for Cortex". The inclusion of four tracks from Haven proves that the band is quite fond of it, a sentiment I certainly don't share with them. Regardless, the two best songs from that album are both present and accounted for: "Indifferent Suns", "The Wonders at Your Feet".

Dark Tranquillity was wise enough to choose the most experimental, atypical number from Projector an a nod to their experimental past, that being "UnDo Control". While that is my favorite song from that album, the inclusion of the average "ThereIn" begins to pull the proceedings back down to Earth. Shoehorning in the upbeat "The Sun Fired Blanks" only serves to drive the point home that there are decent, rocking numbers present on the earlier albums that most certainly have a place in compilations like Manifesto of Dark Tranquillity.

The potency of Manifesto of Dark Tranquillity's approach is almost entirely dependent on the listener's curiosity regarding the band's earlier material. While it is a decent-enough snapshot of the group's post-The Mind's I compositions, it doesn't represent their entire career like a true compilation should.