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1996 – Part 4.3: In Flames – The Jester Race

In Flames was founded in 1990 by Jesper Stromblad as a side project from his then-current death metal band, Ceremonial Oath as he wanted to write more melodic songs.

Three years later, he quit Ceremonial Oath due to the overused “musical differences” reason and began focusing on In Flames.

By 1995, Stromblad grew tired of using session musicians to record an album or to do live shows, and the first version of the band was assembled.

“The Jester Race” released in February 1996, is the second studio album. The album is considered a classic album of the melodic death metal genre, along with At the Gates “Slaughter of the Soul” and Dark Tranquillity’s “The Gallery”, exhibiting the dual guitar leads, growled vocals and acoustic sections typical of the genre.

The band for the album is Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad on Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Keyboards, Glenn Ljungstrom on Lead Guitar, Johan Larsson on bass and Bjorn Gelotte on Drums and Additional guitars. Yep, a drummer who also plays guitar, and this is a common thing in Sweden to have musicians who can play multiple instruments in a component manner as they promote the Arts sector in schools.

It’s produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (who also plays additional keyboards) along with the band members.

Moonshield

The Medieval sounding acoustic guitars to start the song sets the tone of a journey to come. After about a minute the distorted guitars crash in.

Musically speaking, it is similar in melody and structure to bands such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, the death metal influence lies within the vocals.

The Jester’s Dance

It’s an instrumental.

Full of different moods like “The Call Of Ktulu” and a bass groove that could have come from the fingers of Eddie Jackson from Queensryche.

There is even a section that reminds me of “Wasting Love”.

So if you want to press play on a song without vocals, press play on this or on the other instrumental “Wayfaerer”.

Artifacts of the Black Rain

I like the twin harmony melodic riffs on this.

Graveland

It’s fast very “Ride The Lightning” like.

Lord Hypnos

How good is the intro on this?

It’s some of the best metal music written in the 90’s, reminding me of 80’s Judas Priest and Queensryche.

And the subject matter this time around are Greek Gods.

Listen to the musical section between 1.33 and 2.43.

Dead Eternity

It’s very Iron Maiden like when it starts off, before it moves into a power metal like riff with blast beats. Something which Parkway Drive uses a lot of.

Its spoken word intro is haunting; about death, and how once you die you never have to worry about dying again, as you are stuck in a purgatory known as dead eternity.

The Jester Race

The intro is like a “Top 10 Hard Rock riff with a bullet” like. And throughout the song, its littered with melodic riffs and harmonies.

December Flower

Fast, angry with a lot of tremolo riffing and blast beats.

Check out the guitar leads between Verses and the guitar lead itself is “guitar hero” worthy.

Wayfaerer

An instrumental.

Very Judas Priest and Helloween like.

And then at the 1.50 mark, there is this Van Halen “Dance The Night Away” vibe with a bit of Joe Satriani “Crushing Day” and “Lords Of Karma” chucked in.

Dead God in Me

The closer.

It’s almost thrash metal like, with disturbing lyrics about a recollection of a molestation that took place.

The album took some criticisms from being too melodic in its riffs and harmonies from Melodeath purists, but that’s why I listened to it.

For me, that melodic element was the selling point.

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10 thoughts on “1996 – Part 4.3: In Flames – The Jester Race

  1. Count me in with melodic metal appreciators. I was just listening to Moonshield and enjoyed the waltzing movement of its scalloped riff lines. The growls give the vivid lyrics such a tasty finish. I liked this verse especially.

    And how I lust for the dance and the fire
    deep of the nectarine sunset to drink
    spill me the wind and its fire
    to steal of the colors – I’m the moonshield

    I look forward to future listening. Thanks for the review, Peter.

  2. This band is still around right? I didn’t realize they had been around that long. I only recently saw a couple newer albums and thought it was a new band. And yes, anything melodic is great.

      • A copy and paste from Wikipedia of current roster

        Edit

        Eleven Seven Edit
        Hellyeah
        Mötley Crüe (as the distributor of Mötley Records)[9]
        Papa Roach
        Sixx:A.M.

        Better Noise Music Edit
        All Good Things
        As Lions
        Atlas Genius
        Asking Alexandria
        Awolnation
        Bad Wolves
        Bleeker
        Classless Act
        Cory Marks
        Deuce
        Dirty Heads
        Escape the Fate
        Eva Under Fire
        Fire from the Gods
        Five Finger Death Punch
        From Ashes to New
        The Funeral Portrait
        Hellyeah
        The Hu
        Hyro the Hero
        In Flames (North America only)
        Islander
        Just Loud
        Mötley Crüe
        Nelly Furtado
        Nevrlands
        Nothing More
        Papa Roach
        Sixx:A.M.
        Tempt
        Tuk Smith and The Restless Hearts
        Vamps

  3. It’s pretty striking how close the release dates of all 3 of those Gothenburg albums were, and how much of an impact they had and still have on metal. I’m a little up in the air as to which In Flames is my favorite but this is certainly one of the contenders.

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