IN FLAMES

"Sounds of a Playground Fading" (Century Media; 2011)

Reviewed by Snidermann

In Flames kicks ass again with "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" (what a great title!). Their signature style of heavy metal blasts from this tour de force recording of 12 tracks and 55 minutes of pure, explosive music.

"Sounds of a Playground Fading" may not only be the best metal release of 2011, it may be the best all around release of the year. Listening to a new In Flames CD is like visiting an old friend. Any In Flames fan knows that this band has a legendary catalog of work and the that track record continues with this powerful CD.

A few cuts that caught my ear early on were "Deliver Us" and "Where The Dead Ships Dwell" but I know that, as I listen to this CD again and again, I'll find more and more to like. Great stuff!

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"A Sense of Purpose" (Koch; 2008)

Reviewed by Snidermann

The Swedish supergroup has done it again with "A Sense Of Purpose." Anyone that knows In Flames expects each album to be a powerful example of heavy metal and this CD lives up to all the hype. 

In Flames gave us a taste of their new music with "The Mirror's Truth," an EP released earlier this year (see my review below). The songs on the EP also appear on the full length as bonus tracks. The EP was the perfect introduction to the full-length CD.

The lyrical quality of "A Sense of Purpose," like all In Flames releases, is outstanding with thought-provoking content that not only entertains but makes you think about what is being said. I have grown to really like this band and the more I listen the more I like them. 

In Flames joins their fellow countrymen Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity (just to name a few) as masters of the modern metal scene. There must be something in the water of Sweden to develop such outstanding metal acts! 

In Flames and their outstanding release, "A Sense Of Purpose," earns a strong and well-deserved four guitarsaw rating.

"Oh, I feel like shit. But at least I feel something." (lyric from "A Sense of Purpose.")

For more information, check out http://www.inflames.com or, better yet, go out and buy one of their CDs now! 

"The Mirror's Truth" EP (Koch; 2008)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I usually don't like to review EPs; however, when on of my favorite bands releases one, I jump at the chance.  

The band is In Flames, the name of the EP is "The Mirror's Truth" and the music is exactly what we have all come to expect from this killer Swedish band. The music explodes from the beginning of this recording and never lets up until the CD comes to an end (way too soon, by the way). 

Bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Slayer and Short Sharp Shock are the reason I got into this business in the first place. They make their music the way they want to, with no apologies or excuses, and, when they release a new full-length or EP, we must stand up and take notice.  We here at Rough Edge take that responsibility very serious.  

In Flames and their EP release "The Mirror's Truth" gets a strong three guitarsaw rating.

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"Come Clarity" (Ferret; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Man, when I got my hands on the new In Flames release, "Come Clarity," I had to stop what I was doing and get right to listening to it. I was not disappointed. This release is full of classic In Flames: killer music, thought provoking lyrics and enough moxie to light up a large city. 

I am thrilled that bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Opeth are making such high quality heavy metal today. It raises the bar for all the other bands out there. 

I have spun this disc at least four or five times and I still find things I missed earlier. That's one of the things I like about the above named bands. There is always something different with each listen and always something special to find. You just have to take the time to look and CDs like "Come Clarity" make that task a joy.

This is heavy metal music at its very best.

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"Soundtrack to Your Escape" (Nuclear Blast; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I had been so busy during the time that In Flames released "Soundtrack To Your Escape" I practically forgot to get it! I did manage to get to the store by the weekend after its release so I wasn't too late in hearing what Gothenburg's titans had to offer as a follow-up to the oft maligned "Reroute To Remain." I liked "Reroute To Remain" a lot (more than most folks I suspect), but it managed to drop out of my frequent rotation quite quickly. Of course, when I did pull it off the shelf I was instantly reminded why I liked it so much. But still, I wondered how I would react to "Soundtrack To Your Escape."

My immediate reaction to "Soundtrack To Your Escape" was a lot more positive than my initial reaction to "Reroute To Remain." I'd have to say I've listed to "Soundtrack" far more often in the early going than I did for "Reroute." How this plays out in the long run remains to be seen, but I think in a couple of years I'll be able to say that "Soundtrack" rates higher than "Reroute" in most respects.

On "Soundtrack To Your Escape" In Flames' use of electronics, programming, and keyboards is the most extensive yet in the band's history, but in a funny way they are more seamlessly injected into the band's songs this time around and seem less obtrusive. The guitars are more immediate and seem heavier – a good thing as far as I'm concerned. On first reflection the guitars seem to adopt more of the Iron Maiden twin guitar style that was missing on "Reroute To Remain" and this is a welcome development even if it doesn't recall the band's glory days.

From the sound of things it appears that Anders Friden has gotten back to his gritty vocal style on "Soundtrack To Your Escape" that was somewhat lacking on "Reroute To Remain." I still think Friden's vocals are a bit over-processed and over-produced, but I can live with it. Apparently Friden got most of his clean vocals joneses out on the Passenger project. The clean vocals on "Soundtrack To Your Escape" are well placed and well arranged. Additionally, I've enjoyed Friden's lyrics more and more as the years go by although I'd be hard pressed to explain exactly why.

At twelve tracks, "Soundtrack To Your Escape" cuts two tracks of additional fluff that "Reroute To Remain" was subject to given its 14-song length. I think most bands should choose brevity and quality over quantity and I think that's what In Flames have done with "Soundtrack To Your Escape." And that's a good thing. This is, of course, a reversal of my old opinion that more In Flames is better than less In Flames – sue me.

As if "Reroute To Remain" wasn't enough to split the In Flames fans into two camps "Soundtrack To Your Escape" will keep the fans in the camps that they've chosen to be in. "Soundtrack" is a solid follow-up to "Reroute." My initial reaction is that "Soundtrack" is overall a bit heavier than "Reroute" which leads me to believe that to the uninitiated it would sound like a more logical successor to "Clayman" than "Reroute." I don't think In Flames are going to lose too many fans with this new disc – those folks wishing for the old days left after "Reroute To Remain" and they ain't coming back. However, I do feel that "Soundtrack To Your Escape" will probably attract more new fans to the In Flames cause than "Reroute To Remain" ever will.

The bottom line is that I like "Soundtrack To Your Escape." While I may still prefer the band's earlier albums to their newer material, "Soundtrack To Your Escape" is another solid effort in the band's on-going evolution.

"Soundtrack To Your Escape" was produced by Daniel Bergstrand.

In Flames: Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums. All programming and keyboards by Orjan Ornkloo.

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"Soundtrack to Your Escape" (Nuclear Blast; 2004)

Reviewed by Star

"Soundtrack To Your Escape" is a remarkable progression in the evolution of heavy metal. This record is thoroughly dynamic, delivering a wide range of emotions which draw the listener into a vast musical landscape of ambient textures and starkly contrasting stylizations. Production, provided by Daniel Bergstrand and Orjan Ornkloo, is top shelf all the way, with some of the best tones I've heard on any metal album in quite some time.

By merging elements of death, thrash, electronic, industrial and rock, In Flames have forged one of the most original sounds in metal today, easily outdistancing their peers in terms of songwriting, production and execution. It appears that there has been a very deliberate attempt to push the boundaries of experimental production, with varying degrees of tonal nuance throughout the entire record.

"Quiet Place" sounds (dare I say) nu-metal, without losing the edge and power inherent in the band's previous offerings. I really enjoyed this track. The band combines some cool effects and great instrumentation on this song. Opening with an acoustic passage which sets the tone for the rest of the song, "Evil In A Closet" builds into a swirling torrent of electronic anguish in a temperate and deliberate manner. This is a tune that could easily receive airplay on AOR stations. Vocalist Anders Fridén gives a stellar performance here, exhibiting some fantastic dynamic expression! The wide open chorus of "Touch Of Red" is catchy and infectious." In search for I," the eighth track is pure driving, chaotic madness, while "Borders And Shading" offers another glimpse at the more commercial side of In Flames. Tracks 10 and 11, "Superhero Of The Computer Rage" and "Dial 595 ESCAPE" are forays in metalized mayhem that are akin to the group's earlier offerings. "Bottled" contains razor-edged riffing and anguished vocals coupled with a beautifully orchestrated hook. The band chose an excellent song for a cover version, Genesis' "Land Of Confusion" which is souped up with In Flames style and offers a particular bit of insight as to where the band's minds are at creatively.

A progressive and aggressive masterpiece, this is a disc that pushes the boundaries of Metal. It won't be leaving my deck any time soon.

In Flames: Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums. All programming and keyboards by Orjan Ornkloo.

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"Reroute to Remain" (Nuclear Blast; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I was so excited about the release of In Flames' "Reroute To Remain" that I listened to the title track in mp3 format many weeks before the album's official release. I wasn't about to judge the entire album on one song so I remained reserved about it except that it reminded me a little bit of Hypocrisy's recent efforts with a little Soilwork thrown in. But, knowing full well that the entire "Reroute To Remain" would have a few surprises in store for me, I plunged headfirst into my initial listen of In Flames' latest effort.

I have to admit that my first run through "Reroute To Remain" was disorienting and slightly disappointing. I thought Anders' voice was too distorted, too altered, and often unintelligible from all the processing. However, the second time I listened to the disc I listened to it through speakers (something I don't do too often as I listen to music through headphones 99% of the time); as such I was able to get a better vibe from the songs. After the fifth listen I could easily declare that "Reroute To Remain" is another solid effort from In Flames even if longtime fans will be disappointed.

"Reroute To Remain" represents In Flames' greatest stylistic leap from on consecutive albums. And it's this little fact that has many people up in arms about the departures the band has made. Yet somehow the band manages to bring all of the elements they're known for, and then some, into a complete package.

On "Reroute To Remain" In Flames avoid overuse (and overkill) of their quasi-patented harmony guitar parts in favor of new rhythmic patterns that focus on heavy riffs used economically - "Trigger" is a great example of this new approach. While inventive arrangements were a bit lacking, it's fair to say that In Flames are not expected to be innovators in the heavy metal genre. However, In Flames didn't stick to the tried and true as the verses in "Dismiss The Cynic" were the first elements that reminded me of the band's previous efforts which is saying a lot because it is the tenth track on the disc.

There are plenty of highlights. "Trigger," a mid-paced number soon to be an In Flames classic, reminded me a bit of Hypocrisy especially in the way that the vocals sound a lot like Peter Tagtgren. "Cloud Connected" features a sparse arrangement that allows the music to stand out and gives Anders' vocals plenty of room to shine. 

Aggression makes a big comeback as well. "Drifter" and "Egonomic" are prime examples of the speedy aggression that has become known as the 'Gothenburg" sound while "Transparent" gives aggression new life in the deep, sludgy growls of Jesper's and Bjorn's guitars. To balance out the newfound aggression there are two ballads, "Dawn Of A New Day" and "Metaphor," that give the album a true sense of equal distribution of moods.

In Flames' inclusion of quiet, spoken, and clean vocals has been tentative all the way through "Clayman." On "Reroute To Remain" Anders explores clean vocals on nearly every track; sometimes in verses, sometimes in choruses, and occasionally in bridges, but rarely in all three at once. 

"Reroute To Remain" has fourteen tracks and in the beginning this makes the album a little bit difficult to truly soak in. However, more In Flames is better than less In Flames so it's a good thing once you have a chance to absorb it all. 

The bottom line is that "Reroute To Remain" is a very, very good album; it is a near perfect blend of aggression and melody which is what the band is really known for, right? Once I got over the self-imposed hurdle of my very high expectations I was able to enjoy it for what it is - a stellar release from a band that is taking chances and doing a good job bridging the past with the present. While "Reroute To Remain" is unlike anything that In Flames have done before it is very much the beginning of a new and undoubtedly interesting chapter in the band's on-going history.

"Reroute To Remain" was produced by Daniel Bergstrand. The production on the disc is grittier than previous In Flames releases which is something the band needed to inject back into their sound.

In Flames is Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"Reroute to Remain" (Nuclear Blast; 2002)

Reviewed by TBJ

"Reroute to Remain" is In Flames' most polished, professional and best sounding record to date. Many have called this CD In Flames' "Black" album but I strongly beg to differ. I have listened to the entire album. Most people have already opened their mouths in disgust, this by only hearing one or two tracks. Yes, the riffs are catchier, the melodies are sweeter, but so have they been since the band's inception almost 10 years ago! To those critics - Listen to the whole thing first, then talk. There are numbers here that are faster than anything they've done since "Whoracle" and shit heavier than "Clayman" and "Colony" combined.

In Flames have seemed to adapt more Depeche Mode Influences and less Iron Maiden ones, and although I am a great fan of Iron Maiden, it is refreshing to feel different moods pop out of a "melodic death metal album." You just can't write twin guitar melodies forever. 

Speaking about guitars, they are even more multi-faceted here than before. There are heavy riffs (a la Nevermore), and there are fast riffs (a la Slayer or At the Gates). There's also exploration in clean and acoustic guitars (nothing they haven't done before, but used differently this time). There are a couple of tracks which employ a down tuned, almost Slipknot-like riffage, that although it sounded weird at first, I rapidly accepted them as something refreshing to add to the Gothenburg catalog (and they sound awesome, too). This mix of styles might sound incoherent to some, but they just seem to represent what these guys are capable of, and within the context of this disk, well there's nothing to complain about. 

Maybe with my statement at the beginning of this review you'll think In Flames refrained from coming up with guitar melodies. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. The melodies are more a "part" of the song instead of the "focal point" and sometimes the guitars just serve as background and the lead guitar melodies are substituted by vocal ones.

Anders seems to have improved greatly his range, and although he's no Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) or Speed Strid (Soilwork), production has seemed to found a way to exploit his positives and improve on his negatives. Yes, there are whiny parts like in previous albums, but overall the vocals seem to grab you by the throat with hooks that'll leave you humming the songs over and over. Something they had trouble with before in my estimation. 

Finally we get to hear the bass loud and clear, although in some songs I think it's too loud but that's just me. Peter Iwers time to shine comes in the form of the two "ballads" that grace this CD. The bass shines on these, serving as a link between the acoustic guitars and the drums (something bassists all over should learn how to do). The "ballads" in themselves are something very new to the band, but, in context, if you remove the vocals they would be as readily acceptable as all the acoustic interludes in past endeavors. 

I always had a problem with how In Flames' albums had a shitty drum sound. Take "Colony" for example, and "Clayman." (Well, after you listen to Van William or Nick Barker, you'll know what I mean). This time out the drums sound full, heavy and aggressive. The beats are stylish, never going where they shouldn't go, the fills are always in the right places, there's nothing to complain about here.

"Reroute to Remain," feels and sounds as great as In Flames' last "perfect" album, "Whoracle." If only mainstream media would take notice, imagine how much this will help out great bands such as Dark Tranquility, and Arch Enemy. 

How do they come up with shit as great as this? I'll never know. Maybe it's in that Swedish water - if that's the case, then bring some of it down to Metallica's recording studio.

One more thing: This CD will forever suck to those people that have already set out to hate it in the first place. To those with a more realistic vision and open mind - you will love it.

In Flames: Björn Gelotte - Guitars; Daniel Svensson - Drums; Peter Iwers - Bass guitar; Jesper Strömblad - Guitars; Anders Fridén - Vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.inflames.com

"The Tokyo Showdown: Live in Japan 2000" (Nuclear Blast; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

In Flames are the pre-eminent Swedish melodic death metal band to capture the imaginations of fans across the globe. This has afforded the band to travel the globe in support of such discs as "Whoracle," "Colony," and "Clayman." So, it should come as no surprise that a live album to document this particular phase of their career predominantly includes songs from these three discs.

The songs were recorded on In Flames' tour of Japan (hence the title of the disc). The set list isn't remarkably different from what I saw shortly after "The Tokyo Showdown" was recorded when In Flames toured the United States for what seemed like the third time in less than two years. The energy is captured fairly well, although I must admit seeing the band in person far outshines listening to this live recording.

The disc starts with four high energy tunes -- "Bullet Ride," "Embody The Invisible," "Jotun," and "Food For The Gods" -- and each one is a straight-forward rendition of the studio version. "Moonshield," the only pre- "Jester Race" song on "The Tokyo Showdown," always seems out of place due to its slower tempo, but nonetheless still a perfect In Flames song. "Gyroscope" is slowed down a bit and that gives the chance for the song's melody to glimmer unlike the studio version.

After muddling through some of the band's weaker recent material, In Flames tear through the remainder of the set by setting "Ordinary Story," "Pinball Map," "Colony," and "Episode 666" afire with fervent energy.

Is "The Tokyo Showdown" essential for your collection? Not really, unless you are a die hard In Flames fan or are interested in a 'greatest hits' package.

"The Tokyo Showdown" was produced by Anders Friden and In Flames. For a live CD the mix is slightly above average, but I was comforted to know that In Flames left the raw sound of the concerts intact with little or no fixing in the studio during post-production.

In Flames: Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums.

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com.

"Clayman" (Nuclear Blast; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The mighty In Flames have graced the metal world with another muscular effort. "Clayman" simply outdoes the competition in every manner, shape, and form. In Flames continue to be exalted guardians of all that is great about heavy metal - fast, dynamic, energetic, and exciting. As in the geometry of all things, an In Flames record will eventually unfold into seamless sequences that will appear to be as inherent as anything Mother Nature ever intended.

In Flames promised to deliver a new record with faster paces and "Clayman" delivers on that promise with enough energy to induce nuclear fission in sub-atomic particles of anything in the vicinity of its sonic path. Songs like the title track and "Suburban Me" ratchet the intensity up a few notches without taking away from the familiar mid-paced passion that In Flames is famous for. "Pinball Map" strikes forth with the strength of venomous vipers as the Meshuggah-like jackhammer rhythms show no mercy while "Swim" leaps through the speakers with the grace of a gazelle. Meanwhile, songs like "Bullet Ride" and "...As The Future Repeats Today" are destined to be In Flames classics. 

The vocals are as aggressive as ever and the vocals continue to be as versatile as the music. The lyrics have taken a step away from the cosmic tendencies towards a more personal angle. As such the lyrics are deeply rooted in Anders Friden's interactions with life - whether he's abstract or explicit, Friden has a lot to say and he says it in an interesting way, too. 

Regarding this latest masterpiece, "Clayman" is best summed up by reiterating what vocalist Friden said on the record's behalf: "If you don't like 'Clayman' you don't like music." I couldn't agree more.

"Clayman" was produced, engineered, and mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom at the famous Studio Fredman. Nordstrom also contributed keyboards.  Christopher Arnott (Arch Enemy) makes a guest appearance on "Suburban Me."

In Flames is Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com/

"Colony" (Nuclear Blast; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Is the term melodic death metal an oxymoron? You won't think so after you've heard In Flames. "Colony" appears on nearly every 1999 "best of" list and there's a reason for that - In Flames have let loose upon the world their strongest effort to date. The band's exuberant fans and critics agree: In Flames have set the metal world afire. 

With "Colony" In Flames have combined the best of '80s melodic metal (think of Iron Maiden's "Two Minutes To Midnight") with '90s aggression (think of the power of Primal Fear with death metal vocals). The fact that In Flames are a product of the vibrant scene in Sweden doesn't hurt either. The eleven songs that make up "Colony" bleed power and melody into one visceral package. "Colony" is a ripping, muscular musical feast.

Drawing their inspiration from the school of dual guitar shredding with firm footing in the death metal genre, In Flames have taken speedy riffs, harmony melodies, raspy death metal vocals, folk influences, and pyro-inducing solos into a catchy amalgam of metal. In Flames are less gothic than their counterparts in Dark Tranquility, yet share the same melodic sound with their Swedish countrymen in Amon Amarth. 

Instantly infectious songs like "Embody The Invisible" and "Scorn" make this disc nearly impossible to take out of the CD player. The acoustic guitar instrumental "Pallar Anders Visa" is a departure in that it features pure folk melodies without the usual bombast - and it doesn't seem out of place. 

Keyboards add copious amounts of flavor to songs like "Ordinary Story" while synths imbue a new shades of infinite madness with "Coerced Coexistence." Folk and classical influences make strong appearances on "Zombie, Inc." and the title track. Even when In Flames slows down (relatively speaking, of course) with "Resin" it still manages to shake foundations. Simple, straight-forward riffing doesn't remove one iota of power either as "Behind Space '99" proves with ease.  What's cool about In Flames is their intelligent lyrics - their songs are generally free of Viking fantasy that their brethren utilize. The lyrics are a smorgasbord of topics ranging from extinction, human overpopulation, a future without substance, resistance to conformity, and biotechnology. 

Brutality has never sounded so good. 

"Colony" was produced, engineered, and mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom and In Flames. 

In Flames is Anders Friden on vocals, Bjorn Gelotte and Jesper Stromblad on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on drums. Gelotte and Stromblad handled the songwriting duties while Friden wrote the lyrics. Hammond organ played by Fredrik Nordstorm and Jesper Stromblad. Charlie Storm contributed synthesizers. Kee Marcello (Europe) plays a guest solo on "Coerced Coexistence." 

Visit the band's official homepage at http://www.inflames.com/

"Whoracle" (Nuclear Blast; 1997)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Whoracle" is clear evidence of how In Flames established themselves as the epicenter of the melodic death metal scene. These Swedish metal masters can induce apoplexy in their fans with one fierce riff after another and "Whoracle" is no exception.

Musically "Whoracle" is not as lithe as 1999's "Colony," but don't let that stop you from picking up one of the best releases of 1997. The greater vocal variety on "Whoracle" makes up for the slight difference in quality (and I mean slight in the smallest terms possible).

"Episode 666" is as good a track that has ever been written; its compact, driving spirit is simply spectacular. The aggressive rhythms of "Jotun," which starts off the disc in grand style, is awesome in its ability to involuntarily make your head move back and forth in true head-banging style. Traditional folk elements add character to "Jester Script Transfigured." "Worlds Within The Margin" has familiar power metal riffing, but only the way that In Flames can inject new life into old riffs. Another surprise is the instrumental "Dialogue With The Stars" which plays out as a mix of Boston, Joe Satriani, folk music, and death metal - it sounds bizarre, but it sounds very natural and effortless.

A cover of Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts" is included here; I must admit I was instantly alarmed, but the cover is done in the true In Flames style. It doesn't take long to be sucked in by the track even though the update of this '80s synth-driven hit seems impossible for a melodic death metal band to even consider re-doing. A certain sanguine mood pervades this cover much in the way that Depeche Mode never could have done with the original. 

Quite simply, In Flames rule! Do not hesitate to pick up "Whoracle"; you won't regret it. 

"Whoracle" was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Soilwork, Opeth) and In Flames. 

In Flames are Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad on lead and acoustic guitar as well as keyboards, Glenn Livingston on rhythm guitar, Johan Larsson on bass, and Bjorn Gelotte on drums as well as lead and acoustic guitar. 

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com/main.html

"The Jester Race" (Nuclear Blast; 1995)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

All great bands have a breakthrough record that allows them to rise above the musical masses - "The Jester Race" is that record for In Flames. The promise that was displayed on previous releases (the debut "Lunar Strain" and the mini-CD "Subterranean") finally bloomed in spectacular glory with "The Jester Race."

"Moonshield" starts things off as a certifiably classic song - this is the kind of song we should put in capsules sent into space so that other beings can understand what constitutes powerful music. "Artifacts Of The Black Rain" is devastating with superior emotional content. "Lord Hypnos" displays evidence of the future In Flames sound with more nimble arrangements. The re-recorded "Dead Eternity" shows the band's true colors bridging the band's brutal past and genre-defying future. The title track has a classic riff that is slowly twisted and formed into the molten metal In Flames style. 

Two instrumentals ("The Jester's Dance" and "Wayfarer") are plenty of evidence that the In Flames melodies are worthy successors to the mantle of Iron Maiden guitar harmonies. "Wayfaerer," in particular, shows the band's emerging maturity and new-found articulate expression. 

Throughout "The Jester Race" guitarists Stromblad and Ljungstrom nail their melodic lines with sinewy intent over delicious and dirty distorted chords. Larsson and Gelotte form a serviceable rhythm section (however, Gelotte was soon to be free of the drum kit). With Anders Friden firmly established as the In Flames vocalist there was little to stop his formation of the aggressive singing style that has been copied for nearly five years now by countless imitators. Although a bit of the black-metal raspiness was still evident from the "Lunar Strain" and "Subterranean" efforts the vocal delivery has had remarkable improvement in a very short period of time. The lyrics are rich with cosmic metaphors of the trials of life. 

If you're interested in the on-going, developing, and continuing legacy of In Flames look no further than "The Jester Race" to set the record straight on the beginning of the Gothenburg sound. 

"The Jester Race" was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom and In Flames at Studio Fredman. While the production is not stellar it is remarkably improved over "Lunar Strain" and "Subterranean." 

In Flames is Anders Friden on vocals; Jesper Stromblad on lead guitars, acoustic guitars, and keyboards; Glenn Ljungstrom on lead guitars; Johan Larsson on bass and backing vocals; and Bjorn Gelotte on drums and lead guitars. Keyboards played by Fredrik Nordstrom. Additional vocal and musical contributions by Oscar Dronjak, Kaspar Dahlqvist, and Fredrik Johansson. 

For more information visit http://www.inflames.com

"The Jester Race" (Nuclear Blast; 1995)

Reviewed by TBJ

It's been well documented that In Flames has a style more akin to the "Gothemburg Sound" than to anything else. Well, what is the "Gothemburg Sound?" If it's a cross between the darkness and aggression of death metal and the power and finesse of power metal, then they fit right in. But don't be prejudiced, In Flames have their own unique style. Mix "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" with "Testimony of the Ancients" and you'll have and idea of what "The Jester Race" is all about.

Unlike "Colony," this album has less of a "rocky" feel and more of a full on "straightforward metal" feel. Taking nothing away from "Colony," of course.

You will find heavy and fast songs like "Dead Eternity" and "December Flower," and you will also find melodic songs like "Moonshield" and "The Jesters Dance." The song that stands out the most is possibly the title track. Not only has it intelligent lyrics, but it also showcases the diverse talents of the band: catchy, heavy and melodic. It seems this style of song structure is becoming their niche.

There are plenty of great songs here but what keeps "The Jester Race" from getting three chainsaws is the fact that - at least for this disc - the vocals don't really differ from one song to the next, thus making it difficult to portray the different emotions that the band is trying to express. 

The production is also a problem. Even though you can hear all the instruments, there seems to be some unwanted distortion, especially when turned up loud. These minor details keep this from being a classic of the "New Wave of Melodic Death Metal" but, nonetheless, you are depriving yourself of a great young band with tons of talent if you don't get this.

Just imagine what these guys could do with a bigger budget and a producer like Mike Clink, Terry Date or even Bob Rock.

In Flames are: Anders Fridén, vocals; Jesper Strömblad, guitars; Glen Ljungström, Guitars; Johan Larsson, Bass; Björn Gelotte, Drums and  lead guitars.

For more information, please visit http://www.inflames.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2011 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Jul 2016 13:22:04 -0400 .