After some technical difficulties (e.g. pressing the wrong button when trying to correct an embarrassing mistake) the whole entry was gone and I had to re-write it from scratch. So sorry for the delay and/or the change in words. At least now I know I made a fool of myself for writing base-guitar instead of bass for a couple of month. Since I rushed this entry it may contain more errors than the original version.

sometimes you have to travel hundreds of miles to discover new music – and in this case a whole genre. I participated in a language study travel to Florence, Italy back in 1999. My taste in metal music was somewhat limited and mostly consisted of german power metal, gothic rock with Sin/Pecado era Moonspell and some Paradise Lost being the only exception. Heavier genres like Norwegian Black Metal or Death Metal were completely unknown to me at that time. On my last day I had a couple of bucks left and two options: Save the money or blow it on records. As the responsible teenager I was back then I certainly chose option number two. I went into the only record store I discovered during my stay and grabbed the first album with appealing cover art from a band with a cool name: Dark Tranquillity – Projector. This was my entry to the world of heavier metal genres and Dark Tranquillity accompanied me ever since. I still own this record I bought 17 years ago and although it’s scratched from being played up and down for a couple of years it still sits among my few CD albums I will never sell.

Quick Facts: 
Artist: Dark Tranquillity – official webpage
Album: Fiction Expanded Edition
Version: LP transparent red vinyl, 7″ black EP, Reissue, Limited Edition – Discogs Link
Label: Think Fast Records

Unfortunately it’s not “Projector” I am going to review but their eight studio album “Fiction”. This reissue is actually the vinyl version of the CD/DVD combo released in 2008 and was released on Record Store Day 2016. I am not the biggest fan of Record Store Day as a lot of releases  get pushed back around this date as major labels are clogging the pressing plants. Furthermore, a lot of RSD releases end up on webstores anyway thus undermining the concept of store exclusivity. I like the concept behind RSD but apparently the direction it took in the past years makes it just another cash cow for major labels. Despite that, I still hope Earache will release Woods of Ypres Woods IV and V in the future. I had not planed to buy this album but when it popped up on one of my favorite webstores for a reasonable price I pulled the trigger.

Quality and artwork:
The album comes in a single sleeve and has the same cover as the 2008 expanded edition release. There are actually three different covers for one record. The one of the CD version, the one of the original LP and this one. The original artwork was done by Dark Tranquillity’s very own guitarist Niklas Sundin. Unfortunately I was not able to gather any information about whether he also did this awesome artwork.  The cardboard sleeve has a mat finish and is rather thin compared to other single sleeves in my collection. The quality is awful though. The cutting edges are crooked, the whole sleeve is glued together badly and the edges at the opening of the sleeves are frayed. I might have gotten some B-Ware thus the cheap price. I talked to other people owning this release and they had no problems. The 12″ LP sits in a record sleeve with the lyrics printed on one side while a simple black paper sleeve holds the 7″ EP.
The transparent red vinyl is a real beauty and perfect in every way. The black 7″ EP had some frayed edges I had to remove.
I love that they decided to keep the artwork from the original expanded edition release. The original LP cover is not bad but this one is way more aesthetically pleasing.

Sound Quality:
With all the quality issues of the sleeve I feared that the music quality was also bad. The original release of “Fiction” on vinyl has decent sound quality and a surprisingly good FDR Rating. Fortunately this is also true for this version. There’s no FDR Rating available for the Expanded Edition on vinyl yet but compared to the original CD version I also own, the sound is definitely better. This is especially noticeable with Stanne’s vocals and the bass guitar which get swallowed by the drums on some of their releases on CD in the past. The quality is not top-tier but surprisingly a lot better than on some major releases this year.

I won’t lose much words about the music. “Fiction” is considered to be the most mass appealing release of Dark Tranquillity which contains popular songs like “Misery’s Crown” and “Terminus (Where Death is most alive)”. This release also marks the first time Stanne used clean vocals since their 2000 release “Haven”. Despite the popular songs “Fiction” has some real gems like “The Mundane and the Magic” or my personal favorite “Icipher”. The original 2008 expanded edition release added 4 songs and 2 live songs. The former are pressed on the 7″ vinyl while the latter are unfortunately missing.

The expanded edition was way overdue for a release on vinyl and despite some (apparently uncommon) issues with the sleeve quality the release is decent with an above average sound quality. This is a viable option for people who don’t own the original LP as the price for this release is actually lower.

Up next:
A review of Dark Funerals reissue of “Secrets of the Black Arts” and some experiments to include reviews of the actual pressing quality into the review.

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