The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: In Flames – Colony
After covering Dark Tranquillity last week, it only seemed fitting to move on to a band that shared more than a similar sound, but at one time, an actual band member. For those unfamiliar, when Dark Tranquillity first formed, Mikael Stanne wasn’t the original vocalist, that honor goes to Anders Fridén of In Flames fame. Even more interesting, Mikael Stanne was In Flames original vocalist. Funny how things work out, as both bands began to gain more momentum once each vocalist switched to the other band, and quite honestly, it was for the better. Now despite the inevitable change of course In Flames took with their sound, their earlier work is actually some of the best melodic death metal out there. It was hard for me to choose a specific album of theirs, but when push comes to shove, I would have to go with Colony as my go to In Flames album.
Colony was released in 1999, following Whoracle, and to some fans, this was the last of the “essential” In Flames albums. In the world of melodic death metal, In Flames remains a constant mention, due to their pioneering stance in the genre and the fact they’re one of the most popular and well known bands. Yet while more recent In Flames endeavors have sunken into the depths, there was a time when the music they put forth was a necessary listen for fans of melodic death. Colony is arguably the last of these albums, joining The Jester Race and Whoracle before it.
This album was a progression of their sound, a step up from Whoracle. The songs seem better crafted and a bit catchier, with the melodies sticking in your head for quite some time afterward. Granted, I still enjoy listening to The Jester Race, Whoracle and even Clayman, but Colony has always stood out to the most and overtime became my favorite. The core of what makes this album great can be heard in songs like “Embody the Invisible”, with its pure melody and catchiness, to “Scorn”, that keeps up the pace rather well during its duration, only slowing down in certain spots, but an aggressive tune none the less. Perhaps that’s what drew me closer to Colony, the amount of aggression that is behind this album. Whereas prior albums were more melodic, Colony took those melodies, amped them up, and added a touch of aggression to fully round them out.
In Flames – “Scorn”
Furthering the lasting power of this album is the great production value. Colony feels enormous with its sense of depth and clarity, and you can even hear all the subtle echoes and other effects that were added to the mix. And we can’t talk about In Flames without mentioning the main songwriters of the band, the guitarists. Both Stromblad and Gelotte weave an impressive mix of riffs and solos throughout the album. The harmonising twin-guitars are stirring, each note ringing true, switching seamlessly between heavy riffs and beautifully melodic interludes, successfully channelling old-school masters into their modern European sound. They were at top form when writing this album.
Now while the guitars claim most of the glory on Colony, the rest of the band has more than enough to do the melodies justice. The bass playing from Peter Iwers is very solid, the 6-string never running out of answers and proving innovative even amidst the immense wall of guitars. The drums are perfectly suited to the overall sound of the music. Durning certain parts where the music lends itself to more aggression, the drums step up accordingly with the double-bass never overbearing or deafening. The cymbals are crisp, the snare tight and full, and at times, the drums also lean in favour of older metal, with slower beats and minimal speed or aggression. Aside from the change in vocals from Anders in newer albums, on Colony we saw him incorporating cleans, but not to the extent of what he does now. I actually prefer his method on Colony. With plenty of passionate and spirited delivery, his vocals, like everything else on this album, were not just an afterthought. His voice suits the music perfectly, with enough infectious scream-along choruses making the songs truly memorable.
Was this In Flames magnum opus? Maybe. I’m not hear to debate or even claim that it is, but there is no denying how powerful of a release Colony was and still is in In Flames entire discography. Nowadays, In Flames has become that of a mallcore kids wet dream come true, and despite what I feel are lackluster albums that they keep churning out (with the exception of a few catchy song here and there), I will never disregard or stop listening to their earlier work because of it. Now where Reroute To Remain or even Clayman could be considered their “Black album”, the turning point in their career, you can’t argue that Colony was perhaps the last solid In Flames album to be released that still captured that classic Gothenburg sound.
In Flames – “Behind Space’99”