Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Swedish melodic death metal. These words bring to my mind four bands…At The Gates, In Flames, Eucharist, and Dark Tranquillity. These bands have released some monumental material to which other bands refer to as their benchmark. But with the demise of At The Gates and Eucharist, the kingdom of melodic death metal is left with In Flames and Dark Tranquillity sitting side by side on its throne.
In Flames is the first to come forth with a new album, and what a beautiful one it is! The four aforementioned bands have four distinct styles. In Flames have been said to lean towards the "happier" side of death metal. This can be attributed to their extensive use of melody throughout their songs, as well as beautiful guitar harmonies and acoustics. Sure the other three bands incorporated these elements also, but In Flames takes it to its full extent without losing their aggressiveness. And as time pushed on, In Flames became more proficient at songwriting, and delved even deeper into the realms of melody, abandoning fast beats and accelerated picking for better flow and emotional depth. Just compare Lunar Strain to Whoracle and this will become apparent. Colony picks up right where Whoracle left off. No, no…they did not create Lunar Strain part two…what do you think Dimension Zero is for? Some of material on Colony resembles a cross between Whoracle and The Jester Race, but overall it's one step forward from where they were at with the previous album. There is tons of melody, yet still heavy as sin. Sometimes the rhythms even remind me of heavy-ass power metal. This is atypical of In Flames, but it brings more variety into the music. These differences are accompanied by a superior vocal performance by Anders. His death shriek has never sounded better, and he has also incorporates a bit of cleaner vocals here and there, which really enhances the songs. And by tradition, there is an instrumental on this album, called "Pallar Anders Visa". Unfortunately, this is the only track with an abundance of acoustic guitars. I say "unfortunately" because these guys are just too damn good when it comes to this! However, there are some cleaner guitar parts scattered on the album that always adds to the music. The only resemblance to the old days is found in "Behind Space '99". This was the first track off the first album, and its re-recorded version appears here with slight modifications.
Fans of this band are probably curious of the new lineup. Guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom has left, with drummer Bjorn Gelotte taking his place. Taking Bjorn's place on drums is Daniel Svensson of fellow Swedish metallers Sacrilege. And bassist Johan Larsson has been replaced with Peter Iwers.
Once again, you collectors and die hard fans will want to know that the Japanese version of this CD has two bonus tracks: "Clad in Shadows '99" and "Man Made God". Yes, another cut from the first album gets an update here. The new version is slightly different than the original. It is odd that they would pick this song to redo, as it seems like one of the more unknown songs. For that reason I think they should've switched this song with "Behind Space '99". "Man Made God" is a killer instrumental, which sees a bit more acoustics, much to my delight, not to mention great lead work. The first pressing of this version includes a second booklet containing a bio on the band and each band member, as well as tour information, and a discography. Although this is all in Japanese, there is a wealth of photos which makes it worthwhile to have. A sticker is also included, plus a cardboard slip case, both featuring the fantastic cover artwork by Andreas Marshall (fantastic, but a little too similar to The Jester Race). Too bad Japan gets all the cool shit!
In Flames fans should not hesitate to get this, as the band have remained true to their style and have created another beautiful album!