HistoryOne of the originators of the so-called Gothenburg sound, In Flames was formed in 1990 mixing the harmonies of Iron Maiden (say) with a speedier extreme approach. The founding members were Jesper Strömblad, Johan Larsson and Glenn Ljungström. The band - members were also involved in a bunch of acts like Ceremonial Oath which featured future Hammerfall members - recorded a promo demo in 1993 and obtained a deal with local label Wrong Again Records (later Regain). In order to record In Flames borrowed members from Dark Tranquillity, namely singer Mikael Stanne and Anders Jivarp. Lunar Strain was followed by the Subterranean EP. These two CDs would be rereleased by Regain years later despite protest by the band. The band translated the relative innovation of its sound into a contract with Germany's Nuclear Blast Records. Anders Friden would be recruited to sing. Albums like The Jester Race and Whoracle transformed the band into an international metal success and the band undertook heavy touring. The line-up underwent changes, however, when Glenn Ljungström and Johan Larsson left. In came Peter Iwers and Niklas Engelin. Gelotte moved from drums to guitar and Daniel Svensson moved into the drum position. Colony and Clayman meant nothing but success and increased sales and the band toured the world as headliners. A tour with Clutch was announced for the support of Clayman, but this was soon cancelled. A European tour with Slipknot and an American one with Jag Panzer and Iced Earth would instead take place. The latter would result in tension among the bands. Reroute To Remain, however, meant a change in sound as the band adopted the mallcore sound and drastically moved away from its trademark melodies and harmonies. This album and Soundtrack To Your Escape caused disappointment among the band's fan base, but ushered in a new stream of followers. These were however of the temporary kind and sensing changing headwinds the band soon announced a return to more melodies for its latest album. Jesper and Peter acted in a Swedish film based on the book Till Sanningens Loin 2002. 2005 brought a DVD called Used & Abused - In LIVE we trust. The band also opened for Judas Priest in the same year. In Flames also parted with Nuclear Blast in North America and signed the dotted line with Ferret Records. A new album was announced for late 2005 called Crawl Through Knives. The title was later shortened to Crawl and later changed to Come Clarity Former Dissection and Satanzied drummer Tobbe Kellgren would sit behind the kit for shows as Svensson as expecting a new child at home. The band brought back guitarist Niklas Engelin in late 2006 as a fill-in for Jesper Strömblad who was dealing with some “personal issues”. Engelin had served time with the band in 1998. Furthermore, Henrik Danhage from Evergrey will replace Björn Gelotte who would also stay home to watch his wife give birth. The Swedes re-signed with Nuclear Blast Records for the world except North America in November of 2007. A new album was expected in June of 2008. The Swedes picked A Sense Of Purpose as the title for the new album, due in Europe on April 4th through Nuclear Blast Records. Koch Records had obtained the American rights. Guitarist Jesper Strömblad of In Flames signed up for rehabilitation in early 2009 in order to get a grip on his alcoholism. In a bout of band cohesion and loyalty the band toured South America and Asia in the spring with Niclas Engelin. On Saturday, May 9th musicians from Tiamat, In Flames, Sabaton, Bullet and The Haunted participated in a football tournament, called Metallsvenskan, in Örebro, two hours west of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Örebro United, featuring members of Millencollin, Path Of No Return, and 2 Ton Predator won the day. The tournament was due to be an annual event. In Flames was touring Canada in September of 2009 with Killswitch Engage and was following it up with a U.S. headlining tour in September and October. The US shows were supported by Between The Buried And Me, 3 Inches Of Blood and The Faceless. Guitarist Jesper Strömblad permanently quit In Flames in early 2010 He said in a statement, "I have decided it is best for me to leave In Flames and to quit the band permanently.” Jesper had spent much of last year in rehabilitation fighting alcoholism.
Century Media Records was proud to announce the signing of In Flames in March of 2011. The Swedish mallcore band would next record its tenth album. In Flames’ next album Sounds Of A Playground Fading would be out in North America on Tuesday, June 21 through new label, Century Media.
Two members of In Flames, guitarist Björn Gelotte and bassist Peter Iwers, were co-owners in a new restaurant in Gothenburg in 2011. Named 2112 after Rush's 2112 album, the restaurant and pub opened its doors on April 21st. Sounds Of A Playground Fading, the tenth album from the band landed in the first position on the German charts. In Flames released the following statement in June: "It is with huge regret that today with immediate effect In Flames must cancel their current U.S. shows as part of the Rockstar [Energy Drink] Mayhem Festival and their own U.S. headline shows. But due to a serious terminal illness of one the band’s immediate family members, they feel they have no option.” In Flames announced Siren Charms as the title for its 2014 album, which was out in September through Epic. The album was recorded at Hansa Studio in Berlin, Germany. The band returned to Nuclear Blast in the middle of 2016. The Swedes were working on a new album and a live DVD. In Flames released its next album, entitled Battles, on November 11th through Nuclear Blast. Long-time bassist for In Flames quit the act in late 2016. Peter Iwers would depart following the current bout of touring. In Flames recruited Håkan Skoger (Passenger and Gardenian) to play bass on its European tour with Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed. In Flames recruited Bryce Paul, formerly of rock band Ives, to play bass for its 2017 U.S. tour. Mallcore bands Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames were to tour Europe together in the autumn of 2017. The band would orchestrate a two-day festival called Borgholm Brinner (‘Borgholm Burning’) for the summer of 2018 at Borgholm Castle in Öland, Sweden. The band hired touring drummer Tanner Wayne in the summer of 2018. Joe Rikard was out. Down, Wicked & No Good was a cover version EP by the band. In Flames’ I, the Mask was out through Nuclear Blast in early 2019. The band had a new rhythm section. In Flames, Red and Arrival Of Autumn would tour Canada and the USA in November 2019. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its Clayman album and make money in Flames was re-issuing the album through Nuclear Blast and rerecording several songs in 2020. Chris Broderick joined as live guitarist in 2019.
IN FLAMES - SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR ESCAPE - NUCLEAR BLAST
There is no surprise in how Soundtrack To Your Escape is of little or no interest to a metal fan. It has been clear since the release of 2002's Reroute To Remain album that In Flames has abandoned its old fanbase for a new one by means of a commercial new sound. The new In Flames is pertinent to fans of Static X and System Of A Down, although the odd segment or lone track might still be attempting metal.
The album indeed starts off heavily. F(r)iend is designed to lure some of the band's older fans back into the fold. Unfortunately, the following song The Quiet Place is close to something Marilyn Manson would produce. In fact, Marilyn Manson and Depeche Mode are band names that have relevance to the new In Flames world.
What is surprising is how the established commercial metal media has united in support of In Flames. It is certainly true that every metal magazine one cares to check out invariably gives 90% of the bands it reviews a glowing endorsement and In Flames should hardly be an exception. After all, the glossy press depends on the kindness of the advertising labels. Having said that, the new In Flames has undergone such a negative metamorphosis that to praise it is to lose all credibility once and for all. To call In Flames death metal or term the band the future of metal is to ignore the poppy backing vocals, synthesizers and weak drumming and set yourself up for ridicule. Metallian Towers will not be ridiculed. - Ali "The Metallian"
IN FLAMES - LUNAR STRAIN - REGAIN/CANDLELIGHT
In Flames' old album is now reissued by Regain and Candlelight Records with four bonus songs. The band's early music is based around the celebrated harmonic dual-guitars and variable melodies, but the Swedes also manage to incorporate everything they would drop in later years. These include acoustic guitars, growls, solos plus a folk element including violin and female vocals. Everlost (Part I) sounds very much like early Iced Earth, and there is much here that could have come from an Iron Maiden or Helloween album. Vocalist Mikael Stanne sounds like a lynx, an effect which is offset by the monotonous drumming of Jesper Strömblad. This was In Flames in 1993. - Ali "The Metallian"
IN FLAMES - SUBTERRANEAN - REGAIN
Subterranean has been in the great metal library of Metallian Towers for over ten years, but the occasion of a new release courtesy of Candlelight Records in America through its licensing arrangement with Regain Records (Lunar Strain was originally issued through Regain's predecessor Wrong Again Records) warrants a new review.
It is almost absurd listening to this album again. In Flames of 1995 was the polar opposite of In Flames of 2005. The band used to be known for its harmonic dual guitars, growly vocals and melodic solos that were more Helloween and less modern than anything else. Now reverse everything just said and you would arrive at the modern In Flames. This edition features a cover of Metallica's Eye Of The Beholder and Iron Maiden's Murders In The Rue Morgue (in the reverse order of what is listed on the biography - hell the biography can't even spell the title of this album) with the latter sporting unfitting growls. Ignore these space fillers and the bulk of the material is excellent post-Iron Maiden axe attack with a good sense of melody and the odd heavy chord progression. - Ali "The Metallian"
IN FLAMES - A SENSE OF PURPOSE - KOCH
There is so much wrong with this band and its newest album that, in the interest of time and space, this review will address only the most obvious. Perhaps someone can create an In Flames convention where artists, fans, musicians and former members can come together in different classes, sessions and breakouts to really dig deep. By then, we might even get the turncoat media to be present as well, who knows?
Let us begin with the cover, ehem, artwork. Much to the delight of Riot (look it up N Flames kiddies) A Sense Of Purpose might single-handedly be the titleholder for the worst drawing on an album ever. Who can say which type of cutbacks was responsible for this illustration? Was it a budgetary cutback or a grey matter atrophy one?
Rightly understanding its target market the disc’s retail packaging spells it out by calling the artist In Flames (Explicit). That is right. The label/distributor/big brother believes this nü-kiddie material is too intense for the impressionably young demographic that would buy an In Flames album.
Not that the biography is honest about it all. Phrases like “melodic death metal” or “melodic metal” and “metallic riffing” attempt to hide the uncomfortable wrinkles by putting lipstick on this pig. Nothing like sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending the music is not what it is. Phrases like these stem from a misunderstanding of what metal is about. While it has become fashionable to consider heavy metal music as synonymous with melody, this trend has gone so far as to pervert the whole concept of the world’s hardest and heaviest music. Many metal bands have used melody to good effect, but becoming melodic or catchy is not the holy grail of heavy metal. Yes, indeed, A Sense of Purpose attempts to introduce some vestige of heavy metal into the band’s commercial purpose (The Mirror’s Truth or Sober And irrelevant), but listen to the rest of this sellout model and know that there is no resuscitating a fire doused under heaps of trash. Yet, the obvious fact is that the album is In Flames doing what it has been doing on the last several albums: make a run for it. The catch: who knew that mallcore would collapse so quickly?
In Flames’ carefully orchestrated backtrack is not going so well however. Don’t take my word it. Listen to the band’s subconscious (bank account?) put it so: “this spectacle, our collapse, it’s not a false alarm... (from The Mirror’s Truth), “hopeless times approach, just give into the chaos... (from Sleepless Again), “approaching constant failure... (from The Chosen Pessimist), “is this how it feels to reach rock bottom, want to know how it feels to be forgotten?” (from Sober And Irrelevant) or “you won’t find a friendly face in the crowd... (from Drenched In Fear). Perhaps these guys are not so stupid at all. - Ali “The Metallian”