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Nation; Washington D.C.; August 27, 2000

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Warning: A Totally Biased Review Concerning A Recent Live Performance Of In Flames Follows

Back in November 1999 I was pretty thrilled to have the opportunity to see Portuguese darkwave masters Moonspell in concert. Headlining that tour was In Flames. At the time I knew that they were a somewhat popular band that had garnered an impressive buzz from many music critics.  Having only heard one song by In Flames I was hoping to be slightly impressed by In Flames as I feared there might be a let down after having seen Moonspell perform their magic on stage.

What happened that evening was one of those life-altering moments that we all hope to have when listening to music. I was more than a little impressed by In Flames - it wasn't long after I picked my jaw off the floor that I bought all of In Flames' domestically available CDs and proceeded to make myself a fan of the highest order.

Fast forward to 2000; the new In Flames CD "Clayman" has been released and has been in constant rotation in my CD player. I eagerly anticipated news of In Flames' next US jaunt. My wishes came true when I heard that In Flames would be touring with Skinlab and Earth Crisis.  As the August 27, 2000 show at Nation in Washington, D.C. quickly approached I made plans to return from Massachusetts by plane to ensure that I would not miss this fantastic show. After getting back to my house from the airport it was already five o'clock! I had very little time to spare! 

I quickly visited Nation's website and unbeknownst to me that little show soon turned into a day-long festival and a fundamentally hardcore festival at that! I began to wonder if it was too late and that I might have already missed In Flames. I decided it was not possible for In Flames to be on so early in the day - at once I prepared to get to Nation as fast as I could. 

I sped my way to Washington, D.C. with nothing more than traffic and a Mountain Dew to keep me company. Just like the last time I headed in a southern direction to see a concert, a torrential downpour was conniving to prevent me from reaching my destination! As you might already guess, Mother Nature is going to have to try harder next time!

I arrived at Nation and I immediately began to assess exactly what time In Flames was scheduled to perform. After a few tense moments I finally found a copy of the set list taped to a wall. A quick glance at my watch revealed that it was 7:20 - the sheet indicated that In Flames were in fact the next band to play at 7:30pm. I couldn't believe my luck.

A quick scan of the patrons in attendance revealed that hardcore fans had predominantly comprised the audience. It wasn't long before many people clad in In Flames t-shirts started to push their way to the front of the stage. The adrenaline was pumping and I, too, made my way to the front of the stage.

As the curtains were drawn the mighty In Flames blasted into "Bullet Ride" started the set in a spirited way. The classic riffage of "Bullet Ride" is instantly likeable and the audience responded favorably although it did appear that many people in the audience were not yet familiar with the new material from "Clayman." 

That all changed with "Embody The Invisible." The opening track from 1999's CD "Colony" set the tone for the rest of the set as a ferocious pit formed. I quickly scrambled to safety - I love In Flames but tonight I was not willing to risk injury. The seething mass of bodies rumbled to the fast pace. 

"Episode 666" drew the best participation from the audience as Anders turned over the microphone to many fans during the choruses. 

Introduced as the slowest song for the evening "Moonshield" went back to the days when In Flames were beginning their majestic rise to stardom with their CD "The Jester Race." Jesper Stromblad did a fabulous job with the melodies and lead lines.

"Clayman," the title track from the latest CD, already intense by anyone's standards, seemed like it was being played at a million miles an hour after the mid-paced "Moonshield."

"Colony" is simply as classic as any song that has arisen from the Gothenburg sound. Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte traded leads and handled the switches during the fast/slow transitions in lock step. 

Up next was the super aggressive "Pinball Map"; this song takes the In Flames sound to new heights as its percussive vent is just as suited for the stage as it is for CD. "Pinball Map" is all the proof you'll need to know that drummer Daniel Svensson has really made the In Flames sound much better with his precise rhythmic intensity. 

As the set was running late and the need to tighten the performances took control of the proceedings, Anders took the time to announce that it was Bjorn's birthday right before the ever intense "Behind Space" closed the abbreviated set with another ferocious pit and the fans screaming for more. 

It was quite clear that In Flames won over the predominantly hardcore fans at Nation. But is that really a surprise? In Flames play an aggressive version of metal that isn't too dissimilar from hardcore in its spirit and intensity. Unfortunately I missed Skinlab, Earth Crisis, Soul Brains, etc. - and so what? I got to see In Flames and that's all that mattered to me. 

Swedish metal masters In Flames will be back in America before you know it. Hopefully they'll have better command of the tour itinerary and will play a more proper show when they are in the Baltimore/DC area. 

Until next time you can rest assure that I will keep the memory of In Flames' performance this evening close to my heart.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.