DARK TRANQUILLITY — The Mind's I (review)

DARK TRANQUILLITY — The Mind's I album cover Album · 1997 · Melodic Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
The dreaded "M" word — "melodic". There has been much debate in death metal circles as to whether melody really has any place in such a brutal genre.

Melodic death metal, as this band are often labelled, conjures up images of puffy–sleeved, white–frilly–shirt wearing musicians who looked like they belonged with a symphony orchestra, and music comparable to late 90s era Helloween. This image is wrong. The "melodic" thing has been over emphasised in much that has been said about this band. This is brutal — it's still death fucking metal! Yes, there's an element of melody, but it's really an inappropriate word to be applied to this. Unfortunately, there is no word in the English language more appropriate.

So what's on offer here? The classic Scandinavian dual guitar attack. It's less oppressively crushing than the likes of Entombed or Dismember in their heyday, but is more technical than the earlier death metal leaders. The death grunt is more of a deep breathy rasp, and is able to carry melody (there's that word again…) more effectively than more guttural styles. Double kick drums underscore most songs, in classic death style.

While mostly mid–paced metal, blast beats are used sparingly, but effectively, like in the closing seconds of "Scythe, Rage and Roses". There are gentler moments too, like the melancholic acoustic guitar and female vocal introduction to "Insanity's Crescendo". There's also the majestic closing title track, which builds layer upon layer on a seemingly simple acoustic riff. This is the type of album where the listener will hear new things with each subsequent listen — a tasty riff here, an unheard bass run there, an imaginative drum fill.

To use an old cliché, this album is like an iron fist inside a velvet glove. It looks innocent enough from the outside, but is more than capable of smashing your face in.
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