Review: Dark Tranquillity "Projector" the 4th Studio Album From This Amazing Melodic Death Metal Band
"Projector" is the last album to have Fredrik Johansson as a member
Swedish melodic death metal veterans Dark Tranquillity were coming of off the success of their third album The Mind’s I and they released their 4th album called Projector in 1999. This would be the last album to feature guitarist Fredrik Johansson who was asked by the band to leave since he wanted to focus on his family life. He also wanted to keep his day job and not have to deal with the difficulties of being in the music business. This would mark the first time that Martin Henriksson would switch from bass to guitar. Michael Nicklasson would be hired to play the bass guitar and Martin Brandstrom would be hired as the keyboardist to complete the lineup for the tour as well.
Projector Songs List
- Undo Control
- To a Bitter Halt
- The Sun Fired Blanks
- Nether Novas
- Day to End
- On Your Time
The song called "FreeCard"
The Musical Style of Projector
One major difference in style for the band compared to their first three releases is the use of clean vocals, piano, and keyboards. The band wanted this to become a part of their sound later. I really think that this was a great idea by the band to include the use of these clean vocals along with the piano part in the opening song called FreeCard. It adds a different atmosphere to the music and band and makes them more varied. I have always been a fan of piano music and this is a great addition to the song. The clean vocals are present on other songs such as Therein, Auctioned, and Day to End. Even though the use of these clean vocals annoyed and turned off many of the band’s longtime fans, it also attracted a decent number of new fans. One reviewer said that all the songs on Projector deserve attention and that the band achieved what is called a gemstone in terms of the way the album is written and mixed. The instruments are said to be heard and heard with vigor. Projector is not THAT great but I would say that it is still a very solid release by a talented melodic death metal band. Four albums into their career, Dark Tranquillity produced two terrific albums and one very good album. I’ve heard some of the next album Haven and that one is pretty good too. With Projector, we see that Dark Tranquillity has developed into a band with a more modern type of death metal sound and these days, versatility is a very good asset to have. There are still the growling type of vocals that we have heard on the band's previous releases but the addition of the piano and keyboards makes the music more varied and beautiful.
The front album cover for Projector
Some More thoughts about the song Undo Control
There is the song on this album called Undo Control that deserves special consideration. In the middle of the song Undo Control, there is a terrific acoustic and melodic part, even better than the song Moonshield by In Flames. It is not just that the female vocals are good, but the guitar playing is outstanding! I normally don't dedicate entire sections to reviewing an individual song but Undo Control is in a category of its own. The magnificence of that middle part cannot be emphasized enough! It shows that these guys from Sweden were at their peak in terms of guitar playing! Lets not forget that these guys were still in their 20's at this point. But they will be able to play very well even in their 40's and 50's if they choose to play into those years.
The song called "Undo Control" (might be the best song on the album)
Projector: the good points of the album and how it compares to the band's previous works
For Dark Tranquillity, Projector was released ten years after they came into existence as Septic Broiler. This album is their 4th album but I would say that they were not at the peak of their greatness with this one. After a pretty good debut album at best, they followed that release up with The Gallery which may be their best work if we do not count Fiction which was released in 2007. The Mind’s I which came out in 1997 was another great album with songs such as Dreamlore Degenerate, Hedon, Insanity’s Crescendo, Still Moving Sinews and Tidal Tantrum. That album featured excellent clean vocals great guitar work on songs such as Tidal Tantrum and Still Moving Sinews and overall good rough vocals by Mikael Stanne. What makes these guys so great to listen to is the innovation and creativity that’s in their music. Projector is not as good a 4th album as some other bands such as Metallica and Megadeth. While those bands and Slayer went down a little later in their careers, Dark Tranquillity has been consistent even with their style changes in their music. Day To End features some electronics at work and the whole song is soft throughout. For a band that has been famous with the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound, this song is a major departure form that kind of melody and heaviness. But the thing is that this works out just fine beating such ballads as Metallica’s Mama Said by a wide margin. Projector is a varied album containing clean male and female vocals, rough vocals, and the use of piano, synthesizers, and really good guitar work. Dark Tranquillity continues in this tradition of proving once again that they are one of the elite bands in all of Sweden and the heavy metal genre.
Final Thoughts About the Album Projector
These guys are really awesome and are far better than bands such as Norther, Insomnium, The Wake, or Children of Bodom. The final score for this album is going to be 88 out of 100 points. Or is it? For 1999 standards Projector is a VERY good album for a band that was starting to experiment with something other than the traditional melodic death metal that we heard from these guys on their first three studio albums. Starting with the song Auctioned, we witness these clean vocals all throughout the song and this is where the Gothic metal influence comes in and some fans may wonder what happened to the great Dark Tranquillity. Rest assured that just because the band changed their style slightly it does not mean that they all of a sudden dramatically declined. It is just that they added a few different elements into their music and they made it work. “The Sun Fired Blanks” is a song with a good interlude followed by a nice guitar passage in the middle of the song. Nether Novas is a song that features what I would describe as a combination of melodic death metal and Gothic metal put into one song. By this point in the album it is clear that Dark Tranquillity changed and toned down their music to feature more variety in the songs but they did not get rid of the harsh vocals entirely as was the case with bands such as Opeth. That’s a way to do things to be able to retain much of your older fan base. As of 2020, I’m willing to be a little more generous and give Projector 90 points out 100.
© 2016 Ara Vahanian