Originally released in 1999, Projector was the fourth full-length studio album from Swedish melodic death metal innovators Dark Tranquillity. Picking up where At the Gates left off, Dark Tranquillity, alongside In Flames, Soilwork and Hypocrisy, took death metal in a bold new direction, adding melody as a major element and experimenting with traditional metal elements, clean vocals, and in Dark Tranquillity's case, keyboards. Lots and lots of keyboards.
Projector was a highly experimental album. You can tell Dark Tranquillity was looking to expand the boundaries of the melodic death metal genre, and they did so with varying success. With the emphasis on keyboards, gothic elements, female vocals, and lots of clean vocals from Michael Stanne, Projector was worlds removed from what In Flames and Soilwork were doing at the time. The experimentation doesn't always pay off, and there are definitely moments on Projector where you wish the band would be a little less gothic and just bring the death metal. Still, there are a lot of very strong songs on the album, "Freecard" and "The Sun Fired Blanks" being my favorites.
Projector falls short in comparison to later Dark Tranquillity releases Haven and Damage Done, but neither of those albums would have been possible without the experimental work done here. Beyond that, it's a completely awesome melodic death metal album in its own right, and one that's essential for Dark Tranquillity fans as well as fans of Swedish melodic death metal in general.
Edition Notes: Century Media reissued Projector (along with Haven and Damage Done) in 2009. The deluxe reissue features digitally remastered sound, a nice slipcase, expanded liner notes, and four bonus tracks. The first bonus track - "Asleep in the Bandaged Light" - is previously unreleased, but "No One" and "Exposure" were b-sides from the Projector sessions that also appeared on the Exposures: In Retrospect & Denial rarities collection a few years back. The final bonus track is a live version of "Therein". While I wouldn't recommend re-buying Projector just for the bonus tracks, I'd definitely recommend the reissue on the basis of the improved sound quality. Between the remastered audio and deluxe packaging, I didn't think twice about replacing my old copy of Projector.