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