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In Flames
September 2000
Released: 2000, Nuclear Blast America
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Wisco

This album has only been out for about a month and already many negative things have been said about it, including: "In Flames have lost it," and "this is In Flames' black album." There is no need to debate this issue really, because the disappointed aren't going to change their minds and I can, for the most part, understand their gripes (understand is the key word).

The fact of the matter is that this is In Flames' most accessible album to date. And by accessible I mean that Clayman is riddled with catchy choruses and subjected to an overall increase in melody. But let's face it, In Flames have always been a melodic band, maybe not like this, but melodic none the less. Me, I like it. I'm a sucker for ultra catchy shit! Anyway, the major complaint (and I'll agree with this) is that the vocals, at times, abandon the ol' Gothenberg scream. There seems to be a little of what I (and others) refer to as "whiny vocals." You know, that bullshit where it sounds like low, rumbling talking. Thankfully, it doesn't ruin the album for me (it's just annoying at times).

The guitar work is, as usual, top notch! Clayman is just packed with riffs that really fucking rock!!! "Bullet Ride" opens the album (after a cool needle drop sample) with a totally majestic riff that just gets my metal gears rollin'. Another highlight is "Pinball Map." This sonofabitch has an awesome manic feel to it and then, out of freakin' nowhere, comes a chorus that just lays all that came before it to waste!

Every single song on Clayman has a least one or two killer moments and a good third of the album just flat out destroys all that comes into its path! Basically, I think that makes it a damn good album. There really isn't any "filler" to speak of, just questionable vocals (and a pointless electronic drum part in "Bullet Ride"). No, I don't think we have to worry about In Flames becoming MTV darlings and/or waging a war on Napster anytime soon, but let's hope the "whiny vocals" are dropped in time for the next album!

Next review: » In Flames - Clayman
Previous review: » In Flames - Battles

In Flames
September 2000
Released: 2000, Nuclear Blast Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Joe

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.

Next review: » In Flames - Colony
Previous review: » In Flames - Battles

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