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In Flames is a melodic death metal band from Göteborg, Sweden. (Gothenburg if you're not Swedish.) Along with bands such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquility, In Flames revolutionized death metal and created what would come to be known as the Gothenburg Sound. Their distinctive style of heavy metal combined the strong riffing, the screaming/grunting/growling vocals and speed of death metal with the melodic influence of Iron Maiden-style power metal. Over time, however, their sound has evolved, with increased use of keyboards and a wider variance in vocal styles.

In Flames started out in 1990 as a collaboration between Ceremonial Oath guitarist Jesper Strömblad and his friends Johan Larsson and Gleen Ljungström. The friends put together a demo and sent it to Wrong Again Records, which expressed immediate interest and signed them to a record deal, due in part to the fact that they lied and said they had already written 14 songs. The next day, they got together and wrote what would be their first album, Lunar Strain. Lunar Strain was very well received in the underground community, but they were still short a couple members, so they got members of Dark Tranquility to help round out their band. They recorded an EP, Subterranean, which caught the attention of larger label Nuclear Blast Records, which signed them to a contract, and with whom they've been ever since. Around this time, they recruited permanent members Björn Gelotte and Anders Fridén.

In Flames' first record on their new label, The Jester Race, was released in 1996, and was a great success, leading to a festival tour with Samael, Grip, Inc., and Kreator. They soon followed this up with Whoracle, which is probably their most widely acclaimed album. With standout songs like Jotun, Dialogue With the Stars, Episode 666, and a powerful cover of Depeche Mode's Everything Counts, the combination of speed and melody on this album is unparalleled in their catalogue. Following Whoracle, founding members Gleen and Johan left the band, leaving the band to fill two spots yet again. They found replacements soon enough in Peter Iwers and Niklas Engelin, friends of the band. They toured with this lineup through Europe and Japan, but before they could get a chance to get back in the studio, however, Niklas left the band, leaving them short a guitarist. Björn Gelotte decided to switch from drumming to playing guitar, and the band got Daniel Svensson of Sacrilege to handle percussion.

With this new lineup, the band went back to the studio in 1999 and recorded their fifth album, Colony. Fan favorites like Embody the Invisible, Ordinary Story, and Coerced Coexistence appeared on this album alongside reworkings of a couple of their earlier songs, Behind Space and Insipid (appearing on Colony as Behind Space '99 and Insipid 2000. The title track on Colony showed their growth in sound as they began to use keyboards. Once again, they toured Europe, Japan, and the USA. They headed back to the studio to create their sixth album, Clayman. Clayman represents an interesting transition in In Flames's sound as they continued to use keyboards to accentuate their sound, albeit sparingly. The song Only For the Weak is most representative of their changing sound, as it has an eminently singable chorus, and a powerful, driving rhythm which is completely frigging awesome live. They toured more than ever in support of Clayman, and took a break before making their seventh album, Reroute to Remain. Reroute to Remain continued in the direction they had been headed with Clayman, particularly as regards more singable choruses and use of keyboards. Songs such as Drifter, Trigger, and Egonomic even display some semblance of vocal harmony in their choruses.

There are people who have criticized In Flames saying that they sold out, which generally implies that the more accessible (and, in ways, pop-sounding) vocals and slightly less complex guitar work of their more recent albums represents a concession to sales. However, I think such claims are pretty easy to refute. In Flames's sound has had a clear and gradual evolution. That said, it's certainly understandable that someone who really likes The Jester Race might find Reroute to Remain less appealing, as there is no denying that In Flames has changed their sound significantly over the course of their existence.


On a meta-note, I'm absolutely certain that there was both a node for In Flames and a writeup on them at one time, but that wasn't the case when I checked recently (prompting the production of this writeup). If anyone can explain why the writeup and node were deleted, I'm kind of curious. Thanks.


Sources
In Flames biography. http://www.tartareandesire.com/bands/inflames.html

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