Part two of the Nuclear Blast Reloaded Series for IN FLAMES is “Whoracle”, the album that for many brought the breakthrough of the Swedes, building on the firm foundation of the all-time classic “The Jester Race”. As we already have a review of the original release at hand, I will keep this one a little shorter, as I don’t want to just duplicate the sentiments already portrayed, so I will just put down a few thoughts from a long-standing fan (of their older releases).
“Whoracle” basically is the logical continuation of the style the band had established with the previous effort, combining highly melodic guitar riffs and harmonies with the Death Metal growls of Anders Fridén and they evolve it into a more mature sounding album, kicked off by “Jotun” (also available as video track on the “Reloaded” version), which is insanely catchy in its melody and still ranks among the best tracks the Göteborg based band has to offer. Overall the Heavy Metal portion of the songs was upped a little, also rhythmically, but with enough tie-ins with the previous two albums, such as “Gyroscope”, also featured on the EP “Black Ash Inheritance” released between the two albums, which’s atmosphere is more in sync with “The Jester Race”, while short, instrumental “Dialogue With The Stars” reminds me a bit of “Wayfaerer” from the previous album.
“Jester Script Transfigured” brings us a lot of acoustic guitar embedded into a slow-paced song with part spoken, part growled vocals and some more of these irresistible guitar melodies, something very unusual for this style, but highly effective I must say, especially when contrasted with the speedy “Morphing Into Primal” right after, which highlights the other side of IN FLAMES quite nicely. “Episode 666” also is considered a classic in the IN FLAMES repertoire, deservedly, while the DEPECHE MODE cover version of “Everything Counts” to me is among the better pop covers out there.
While “Whoracle” is widely considered to be the more successful album compared to “The Jester Race”, but many fans still consider TJR the superior album, but it is the logical continuation and maturation and a classic in its own right, Melodic Death Metal was at an all time high back then, with IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILLITY tearing up the scene and moving from high to high. If you already have the album, the few extras probably are not enough for you to buy thus again, but if you’re new to the Swedes, this is a must, just like with “The Jester Race”, so what are you waiting for?
(Online April 6, 2009)