Next review: » In Flames - Colony
Released: 2000, Nuclear Blast Records
Lately, it seems that In Flames are the "all the rage" in the world of Metal. I too, was blown away by the band when I first heard them a couple of years back, but since the release of last year’s Colony, I no longer understand what all the fuss is about. The Jester Race (1996) and Whoracle (1997), were far better albums than Colony and their latest CD Clayman, which, unfortunately, is another step down in terms of musicianship and songwriting ability.
While Clayman isn’t a bad album per se, it clearly shows In Flames’ intention of moving toward a more simplistic style of songwriting. The classical and folk elements which were once so prevalent in their older material are now all but gone. The first single, "Pinball Map", is almost Punk meets Nu Metal. I almost wept when I first heard it. Fortunately, the rest of the CD isn’t like this, but it pales in comparison to the In Flames of old. Some of the better tracks include "Bullet Ride", "As the Future Repeats Today", "Suburban Me", and "Another Day in Quicksand". The best ones (IMO) happen to be "Only for the Weak", "Brush the Dust Away", and the title track.
I know some of you might be thinking "Seven good songs is still pretty good!" and you’re right, seven good songs out of ten IS pretty good. However, knowing the quality of music that In Flames is capable of writing, these tunes only fare as average to good. None of them grabbed my attention like "Artifacts of the Black Rain", "Dead Eternity", "The Jester Race" (from The Jester Race), or "Jotun" and "Episode 666" (from Whoracle). I don’t know... Maybe I need to take a few more listens. But I’ve listened to it more than ten times already, so I doubt my opinion will change.
As I stated earlier, Clayman is In Flames’ second step away from the high quality of songwriting that they’re known for. The basic In Flames sound is still there, but overall it seems as though the band is aiming for a more commercially acceptable style. (MAINSTREAM... BAD!!!) Fortunately, it’s still a little early to write off this once great band so there ought to be enough time for them to correct their current musical course. I hope.
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