Fucking In Flames. The band that invented Gothenburg-style melodic death metal – if you overlook others like Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates, of course – and then forgot about it when the cash registers started ringing around about the time this album came out the first time.
Look, I’m all for bands changing things up for artistic reasons, challenging themselves and their listeners as they seek a new muse or direction – but straight-up abandoning every thing they did that made them cool in the first place, what the fuck is with that? Even Jesper Strömblad is gone these days, on to an even lamer fucking band that barely knows how to metal at all.

At least on Clayman, In Flames were still recognisable as In fucking Flames. Well, for a while. I mean, it’s not Jester Race or Whoracle – it’s not even Colony – and the first thing they do with Bullet Ride is some whiny Korn-like farting, but then they rip into it. Strömblad and Gelotte throw around tasty solos and catchy melody-laced chugga riffs like nobody’s business. They are almost good enough to make you forget that Fridén sounds like he’s doing nu-metal vocals half the time and the type of death metal vocals that people who can’t do death metal vocals do the other half. Even the nu-ish grooves and the electronic stuff are kind of acceptable if you overlook the fact that they took over the band’s music after this, and then it makes you feel like going up to Iwers and Svenssons’ brewery, drinking the place dry and then burning it to the ground with Strömblad and the other two locked inside.

This 20th anniversary edition worsens the insult by re-recording the two best songs (and the worst one) in their shitty current style. At least you can be thankful they somehow forgot to do a 20th anniversary version of Jester Race, so they couldn’t fuck up Artifacts of the Black Rain or Moonshield. Sad.

  1. Bullet Ride
  2. Pinball Map
  3. Only for the Weak
  4. …as the Future Repeats Today
  5. Square Nothing
  6. Clayman
  7. Satellites and Astronauts
  8. Brush the Dust Away
  9. Swim
  10. Suburban Me
  11. Another Day in Quicksand
  12. Themes and Variations in D Minor
  13. Only for the Weak
  14. Bullet Ride
  15. Pinball Map
  16. Clayman