Most of the discourse surrounding Dark Tranquility concerns their connections with the much-heralded Gothenberg sound, a hybrid augmenting the brutality of death metal with verboten elements of harmony and nonlinear experimentation. With Projector , as far as I am concerned, Dark Tranquility has not only developed the new blueprint for Gothenberg metal, but for the whole word. The gauntlet’s lying there, anyone care to pick it up? Didn’t think so, because when “FreeCard” begins with a naggingly familiar piano riff and then literally explodes with a piece of buzzsaw guitar straight out of the Entombed’s “Left Hand Path,” you’ll be too busy wiping black tears of joy off your face. Is it even worth bringing up the string interludes, or when the blood-soaked central riff kicks back in, or vocalist Stanne singing against a bare piano backdrop? No, that’s only the opening track, I don’t want to burn out my praise already.
Oh, what the hell. I love the vocal techniques that Mikael Stanne uses on Projector ; he alternates between a rich baritone that reminds me both of Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode and Curt Smith from Tears For Fears (compliment, I promise), and a total Death-screech that falls within the range of Carcass’ Jeff Walker. If Phil Spector was a Dismember obsessive, the result would be “Uncontrol.” All the classic elements are there — blinding wall of noise, female vocals that segue into Stanne’s absolute roar, and an invincible song hook that aims straight for your large intestine. “Auctioned” is heavy on orchestral drama, minus the innate pomposity. I need to take a moment to gush about the guitar solo in “To a Bitter Halt.” Simply put, it’s the LAST guitar solo you ever need to hear, even one-upping the immortal Michael Amott. The guitars completely drop away on “Day To End,” leaving a barren electronic pulse-scape that brings the Depeche Mode comparisons to a head.
Projector closes out with “Doberman” and “On Your Time,” two furiously heavy yet melodic and progressive future-classics. The juxtaposition of Stanne’s heroic baritone with the Haunted-esque riffing of “On Your Time” is particularly jaw-dropping-ly fantastic. A more refined method of execution.
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