IN FLAMES is a band that should be known throughout most of the Metal community. Therefore I won’t spend many lines on an introduction. Those who like what IN FLAMES are making today and isn’t aware of what they’ve released in the past, should know that much is different. For reasons I have problems understanding, IN FLAMES has ditched guitar solos almost completely. Take a listen to “The Jester Race” and hear how good they are at it. I don’t mean that every IN FLAMES record should sound the same, but there should be as many ways of doing a solo as there is making actual songs. I guess electronic effects have taken the place that guitar solos and harmonies used to have. Good for some, bad for others.
“The Jester Race” starts out with my favourite song of the album, “Moonshield”. I heard it first time on a Nuclear Blast compilation called “Beauty In Darkness Vol. 1”, the best “Beauty In Darkness” compilation if you ask me. “Moonshield” is one of my all time favourite songs and my favourite IN FLAMES song. “The Jester Race” may not be among my top ten albums, but it’s without doubt my favourite release from these Swedes. The album holds a high quality all the way, with personal favourites scattered around. There is much IRON MAIDEN in “The Jester Race”, but first and foremost they sound like themselves. On “The Jester Race” IN FLAMES still had an identity which I mean they lost some records ago. The easiest way to recognize IN FLAMES today is by the vocals of Anders Fridén, what’s with all the whispering?
I’m aware that IN FLAMES sell records like never before; they even enter the charts in Sweden when they release something. What I want you to know is that “The Jester Race” is nearly as good as Melodic Death Metal can be. The Death Metal at display is of course not the blast ridden kind. Into this blast free Death Metal they have added excellent harmonies, solos and vocals. They were even able to create splendid music without the use of vocals, just take a listen to Wayfarer, a clean hit. “The Jester’s Dance”, another instrumental, also pushes some of the right buttons, but not as many as “Wayfarer”.
I don’t know if “The Jester Race” was meant to be sort of a concept album, but the songs carry some of the same vibe. Take the acoustic guitar that appears here and there for instance, it adds to my impression that this is a concept album. This acoustic guitar, which means acoustic as played with electronic guitar through an effect processor, opens the album. I for one like the sound and the feel it gives. That goes for the whole of “The Jester Race” as well. “The Jester Race”, along with DARK TRANQUILLITY’s “Minds I, is Melodic Death Metal’s finest moments, go for both. (Online January 13, 2006)