Dark Tranquillity

Exposures: In Retrospect & Denial

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Initially overlooked amidst the towering wave of heavy metal talent coming out of Sweden in the early 1990s (the so-called "New Wave of Swedish Death Metal"), Gothenburg natives Dark Tranquillity eventually matured -- along with cross-town rivals In Flames -- into possibly the ultimate expression of melodic death metal. Helping to make that case is 2004's Exposures: In Retrospect and Denial -- a timely "odds & sods" collection purging the band's creative closet and unearthing some long lost treasures from their past. Its first seven offerings comprise assorted outtakes and B-sides from the band's three, increasingly top-notch releases leading up to this set, and although the overly dramatic clean singing first attempted on (and abandoned shortly after) 1998's Projector remains a botched experiment (see "Misery in Me"), even the rejects from its brilliant "back-to-death-vocals" successors, 2000's Haven, and 2002's Damage Done, are about as good as Gothenburg metal gets. Up next, five primeval cuts -- two from 1992 7" A Moonclad Reflection, and three from 1991's "Trail of Life Decayed" demo -- open a time warp to the group's very inception. Not surprisingly, more aggressive, excessively busy tracks like "Yesterworld," "Unfurled by Dawn," and "Final Resistance" recall contemporary sounds by the likes of Edge of Sanity and Entombed -- a far cry from Dark Tranquillity's refined and distinctive aesthetic yet to come. Finally, a bonus DVD containing audio-only of 19 songs featured in the band's Live Damage DVD (always a sketchy proposition, but better than nothing) supplies yet another treat for die-hard fans, as indeed will this entire package.

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