In Flames, founded in 1991, are generally known for being one of the pioneers of Melodic Death Metal through their own style that is known as the “Gothenburg Sound”, in relation to their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. They, along with other bands in the Gothenburg scene (most notably At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and Soilwork), have either further developed this scene or transitioned into a totally different subgenre. In Flames are known for their extremely melodic riffs and menacing guitar solos, as well as the occasional use of keyboards and violins in their songs. With the recent transition of the band into a style unfamiliar to their fans with their new album, Siren Charms, which has received mixed reactions, we take a look at their top 5 underrated songs from previous albums.

“Black and White”, from Reroute to Remain (2002)

Typically considered as their “transitional album” from classic Melodic Death Metal into more of an alternative, modern sound, Reroute to Remain contains several of their most popular songs, including Cloud Connected and Trigger, both of which have produced music videos. Metaphor is also notable from this album among fans of In Flames for including Anders Friden’s clean vocals in the entire song along with epic movie-like drums and violins.

One song that perhaps didn’t garner much attention on this album is Black and White, the final track. It is generally an aggressive, heavy track compared to the rest of the album, and could somehow be the heaviest song on the album. The track begins with what sounds like a cassette tape being abruptly stopped during its playing. Daniel Svensson’s drumming is quite powerful in this track, as well as Anders’ growling vocals that are reminiscent of the previous album, Clayman. Then-guitarist Jesper Strömblad’s fast riffs add an even more bellicose tune to the song. The solo towards the end is short, but also beautiful and suitable for the song. Ander’s clean vocals in the chorus also fit the song quite well. The rhythm of the song generally speeds up and slows down suddenly, which makes it an even more unique song on the album. Lyrically, the song focuses on personal contradictions and an inner conflict.

“Borders and Shading”, from Soundtrack to Your Escape (2004)

Further progressing away from their classic Melodic Death Metal roots, In Flames greatly adds the elements of keyboards and synthesizers in Soundtrack to your Escape. Songs from this album that have received wide admiration include My Sweet Shadow, The Quiet Place, Like You Better Dead, and Touch of Red, all of which have been made into music videos. Dead Alone and Evil in a Closet are also well-noted songs from the album.

However, Borders and Shading isn’t well-recognized on this album. The moderately-paced song packs a punch of catchy riffs, Anders’ screams and Korn-style clean vocals, as well as some nice synths in the background. Its lyrics are dark and appealing to the atmosphere of the album. The progression of the song is attractive in a sense that Strömblad’s heavy riffs kick in at the right moments, reminiscent of their earlier styles in Clayman and Colony. One beautiful thing about this song is Anders’ transition from clean vocals to piercing screams, reflecting the agony and longing portrayed in the lyrics.

“Bullet Ride”, from Clayman (2000)

One of In Flames’ most celebrated albums, Clayman is widely acclaimed by almost all In Flames fans. A set of powerful, melodic tunes that many in the metal community revere, this album contains classic In Flames hits like Clayman, Suburban Me, Only for the Weak, and Pinball Map. The latter two have been made into music videos. It is also considered by many to be In Flames’ last “true” Melodic Death Metal album, and perhaps one of the best.

A song that doesn’t really come to mind when mentioning Clayman is Bullet Ride, although it is the first track of the album. A rather slower-paced track compared to the rest of the album, this song includes aggressive, melodic guitar riffs that characterize In Flames’ style, as well as the significant primary use of Anders’ clean vocals coupled with his screams. An emotional song on a generally belligerent album, it vacillates between soft and heavy sounds, giving the song a gripping atmosphere of personal struggle and insanity.

“Everlost, Part I”, from Lunar Strain (1994)

In Flames’ debut album sounds quite different than the following releases, not only because of Mikael Stanne’s vocals instead of Anders’ but also because of the raw, churning guitar sound that dominated this album. Classic Melodic Death Metal hits from this album include Upon an Oaken Throne, Behind Space, and Clad in ShadowsLunar Strain generally fits the description of a classic Melodic Death Metal album and the Gothenburg sound at a time when the genre was still nascent.

However, Everlost, Part I didn’t receive widespread acclaim like those aforementioned songs. The song has a unique sound to it that sets it apart from the rest of the album. The slow, raw, and doom-like character of the guitars on this song combined with Stanne’s aggressive, screaming black metal-type vocals create a powerful, melancholic tune that captivates the listener. The drumming is excellent and well-timed as well. Progression is also a notable characteristic with the slowing of the rhythm at certain points of the songs. The guitar solo towards the end of the song is beautiful, soulful, and raw though perhaps too short. Another key feature that defines this song is Stanne’s screams at the beginning and the end, plunging the song’s atmosphere into a harrowing chill. Acoustic guitar also plays at the end of the song, which heralds the start of the song’s more popular counterpart Everlost, Part II, which features female vocals and acoustic guitars in its entirety.

“Worlds within the Margin”, from Whoracle (1997)

An In Flames fans’ favorite, Whoracle is still considered one the band’s best-ever releases. Known for its rhythmic and highly melodic sound, this album presented well-known songs like Episode 666, Food for the Gods, Jotun, and a cover of Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts. The third album of In Flames registered generally well with their fans, new and old.

One song from this album that is quite underrated is Worlds within the Margin, a heavy track that clearly demonstrates Anders’ primal growls along with an epic atmosphere created by drums and keyboards. The riffs and chorus are quite catchy as well. The rhythm of this song is quite intriguing with its lyrics and progression. Lyrically, it does a good job in describing some sort of an apocalyptic event regarding the fall of human civilization. Every single aspect of this song is brilliant. A fast guitar solo performed by Strömblad makes it even more epic. Overall, it is a very impressive, headbang-inducing piece of music. 

By Habib Tabaja

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