No surprises, really. This is the same guitarist they’ve had in tow since before Jesper’s eventual departure. I’m showing a bit of my ignorance here, but I’m not familiar with Niklas’ work outside of being In Flames‘ touring guitarist; I saw them on their last US headline tour, and they seemed as on point as usual in the live setting, so I can only imagine he’s a good fit. And apparently, they go back to the late 90’s, but I was like seven years old at that time, so my knowledge of metal happenings outside of my early-teenage scope of awareness is limited to the important stuff. Dammit I’m too young.
What I’m mostly interested in is whether or not he wrote any material or performed on the album. I’ll admit that I sort of “grew out” of my melodic death phase (for the most part) a few years ago, so I don’t pay attention to every minute happening over at IF studios, and frankly I can’t be bothered to do my journalistic duties and research this because I have a Psychology exam to study for. Niklas can certainly play the parts and it’s not like In Flames has been the bastion of technicality, but Jesper was there from the beginning and is a more than capable guitarist; If their quality has been on a downward trajectory the last few years anyway before Jesper jumped ship, I’d like to think they’d wouldn’t leave all of the studio guitar duties on Bjorn.
Needless to say, my outlook on their new album, titled
Korn IV: Sounds of a Playground Fading, is somewhat pessimistic. Even still, I’m hopeful for it. They might not write anything close to The Jesper Race or even Clayman again, but if they can keep writing catchy songs without pandering to the radio crowd, I’ll be fairly satisfied.