Recorded at Studio Fredman, summer 1996. Produced by Dark Tranquillity and Fredrik Nordström.
You know how they say you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, that’s exactly why I bought Dark Tranquillity’s 2005 opus Character. I was up for trying out something new and so I employed the same technique that I employ when buying wine: I judge it entirely on the label, or in this case the album cover.
It’s a method that has turned up some pretty decent music in the past (e.g. Lamb of God, Towering Inferno, Architects). Character was ok, a decent melodic death metal album with good production and solid song writing.
The first thing that struck me about The Mind’s I was the album cover. It’s terrible! Like some kind of gothic party game where a tray is littered with common, every day objects (parchment, pens, dead roses, a jawbone, chiffon that’s arranged to look half like a pair of sunglasses and half like a tiny bra, a ball of barbed wire).
Then there’s the font used for the CD label and inlay booklet. You know how designers say you should never use too many fonts and don’t use fancy ‘display’ fonts for text you actually need to read? Yeah, this is why. My eyesight is bad enough as it is recovering from meningitis, I don’t need to have to put up with some artsy 8pt font on top of that!
Aesthetically, I would never buy this album on a whim. Not a great start, but it’s the music that really matters…
I’m still trying to put my finger on which bands this album reminds me of. There are elements of Iron Maiden’s twin-guitars approach but my memory won’t allow to extend much beyond that at the moment.
The Mind’s I is quite a mid-paced album throughout. The odd clean guitar is thrown in here and there, and there’s quite a proggy feel to some of the songs in the way they ramble. But there’s not much here that stands out for me except for one of the riffs in “Atom Hert 243.5” which isn’t much more than a chugging power chord… but the overdriven amp just sounds so cool!
So, the artwork is disappointing, the music is fairly ‘stock’… Where Dark Tranquillilty do rise above many other bands, however, is the quality. The song writing is pretty good, even if the lyrics are clichéd angst-filled gothic/black metal nonsense, and the musicianship is on top form. A lot can often hang on the quality of vocals and Mikael Stanne certainly rises to the occasion. They are gruff but comprehensible and crucially they are not annoying!
My only criticism in terms of quality is that the production isn’t as clear as it could be, and certainly as Character is. It’s quite muffled in comparison, and too quiet.
All in all, The Mind’s I is a decent collection of melodic death metal tunes. But it didn’t set me on fire.
Review score: 70%