|In Flames is a high ranking gothenburg metal band, founded in late 1990, and widely recognised as one of the catalysts and practitioners of the melodic death metal genre. The band's eminence rose sharply in Europe and with tireless touring the band elevated themselves into the US charts. Early line-up fluidity was nailed down by 1999's Colony, this stability giving the band a solid platform from which to conquer the globe. As the band has broadened its appeal, stage-posted on 2002's Reroute To Remain, a dilution in aggression has alienated a core of older fans but each successive album has overall strengthened In Flames' position with increased global sales.
The quintet only assumed the name In Flames in 1993 after membership changes. One of these formative members, guitarist Ander Iwers later of Tiamat, backed out in 1992. The founding triumvirate comprised Ceremonial Oath guitarist Jesper Strömblad, bassist Johan Larsson and second guitarist Glenn Ljungström. The band's debut, three track August 1993 demo cassette, featuring "In Flames", "Upon An Oaken Throne" and "Clad In Shadows", secured a deal with Wrong Again Records. Guest lead guitar contributions came courtesy of Tiamat's Anders Iwers. Upon being offered a deal the proto-band claimed to have a full album's worth of material ready to go, and so hastily had to compile the entire debut set in just 24 hours.
In Flames line-up for the debut album Lunar Strain, recorded by engineer Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman and released in August 1994, found the original trio supported by sessioning friends such as Anders Iwers, guitarist Carl Näslund, Ceremonial Oath guitarist Oscar Dronjak, female singer Jennica Johansson on "Everlost (Part II)", violinist Ylva Wåhlstedt on the instrumental "Hårgalåten" and the Dark Tranquillity pairing of vocalist Mikael Stanne and drummer Anders Jivarp.
By the time of the five track Subterranean mini-album in 1995, In Flames had added Eucharist drummer Daniel Erlandsson, although Anders Jivarp did also contribute once again. Session vocals were handled by Henke Forss, holding Dawn (SWE), Funeral Feast, Niden Div. 187 and Retaliation credentials. Upon the album's release the band found a new frontman in ex-Ceremonial Oath and original Dark Tranquillity singer Anders Fridén as further flux saw Erlandsson losing his place to Björn Gelotte.
Following two critically acclaimed albums In Flames contributed a cover version of "Eye Of the Beholder" for the Metallica tribute album Metal Militia Volume 1 compiled by Black Sun Records. Being as the band had no lead vocalist at this juncture, Ancient Slumber frontman Robert Dahne lent his lungs for this recording.
In Flames tried out various vocalists in an attempt to gain some degree of stability. Demo tracks included at this juncture witnessed the inclusion of Marduk's Jocke Göthberg on the song "Dead Eternity" and Deranged's Per Gyllenbäck, and label boss at Wrong Again Records, on "The Inborn Lifeless", later to evolve into the following album's "Dead God In Me".
In Flames eventually re-enlisted Fridén in time to record The Jester Race released in February 1996, the album that was to really push the band to the forefront. The band had gravitated upwards to the major German independent Nuclear Blast label, this concern able to fully promote and market the band internationally. Studio sessions, conducted ably once again by Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman, found Oscar Dronjak adding vocals to "Dead Eternity", Kaspar Dahlqvist of Treasure Land donating his keyboard skills to "Wayfaerer" and Dark Tranquillity's Fredrik Johansson laying down lead guitar on "December Flower". Japanese variants of The Jester Race, clad in completely different artwork to the European tank design, added two exclusive tracks with demos of "Dead Eternity" and "The Inborn Lifeless".
Backed up by numerous laudatory press reviews In Flames set out on the Spring Out Of The Darkness festival package in Germany together with Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth and Dissection. 1997 witnessed the arrival of the Japanese Iron Maiden tribute album, Made In Flames put out through the Toys Factory label. In Flames contributed with their version of "Murders In The Rue Morgue". Jesper Strömblad was to enter the national German charts in late 1997, although not with In Flames. The guitarist was the unofficial sixth member of traditional metal outfit HammerFall assembled by his colleague Oscar Dronjak. The fellow Swedes debut peaked at number 34 in the charts with the Glory To The Brave debut bearing many co-write credits to Strömblad.
With In Flames on hold the band took the opportunity to realign their line-up, dispensing with Ljungström and Larsson. Two new players, guitarist Niklas Engelin and bassist Peter Iwers of Chameleon, were quickly slotted in following recording of October 1997's Whoracle album. This record would be preceded by a taster picture-disc EP, Black-Ash Inheritance. Obviously, not wishing to enter the realms of predictability, quite surreally the Whoracle album included a version of Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts". Japanese versions, issued via the Toy's Factory label, added three extra tracks in "Goliaths Disarm Their Davids", "Acoustic Medley" and a live version of "Behind Space". Importantly, Whoracle was the first In Flames product to register on the charts, reaching number 78 in Germany. Mid 1998 had the band supporting Dimmu Borgir, hitting the continental festivals in earnest and undertaking their debut appearances in Japan. That same year Daniel Svensson, citing Sacrilege and Dimension Zero credentials, took command of the drums, giving the group its now solid line-up.
The opening gambit of the new look In Flames, Colony, hit stores across Europe, as well as charts in Germany, Sweden and Finland, in May 1999. Produced by Fredrik Nordström, who also gained extra credits for Hammond organ, slide guitar and "some other hippie stuff", Colony also found Europe guitarist Kee Marcello (Kjell Lövbom) donating his soloing skills to the track "Coerced Coexistence". Peter Iwers stood down temporarily to devote time to his new born daughter and Dick Lövgren of Arch Enemy and Armageddon repute filled in as substitute. After a season on the summer European festival circuit and shows in the USA and Japan, the latter gigs seeing a return for Iwers, In Flames closed 1999 with a December 18th concert in London flanking Cradle Of Filth and Arch Enemy.
Clayman took the band into higher reaches of the European charts in July 2000. Although this record maintained the same formula of musicians and producer as its predecessor, the album gave the first hints of a change in direction, the more abrasive edges now beginning to see refinement. Clayman also hosted the song "Only For The Weak", a track which would go on to establish itself as the band's anthem. A limited edition release, packaged in a 3D cover, was bolstered by the inclusion of an extra song "World Of Promises", a radical adaptation on melodic rockers Treat's original.
In Flames toured America in 2000 on a billing with Earth Crisis and Skinlab. The band was announced as support for Clutch's summer 2001 American dates but then pulled out. The Swedes would however get on the road in the UK during November supporting the infamous Slipknot, this combination certainly placing the group in front of fresh audiences. It would then be back to America in April 2002 forming a more traditional package billing with Iced Earth and Jag Panzer. In Flames would also be announced as part of the billing of the Slayer topped American Extreme Steel festivals. With live work finally at a close In Flames set to work on a new studio record Reroute To Remain, produced by Daniel Bergstrand and set for September release. The band's 1994 rendition of "Eye Of The Beholder" resurfaced on a Nuclear Blast Metallica tribute collection.
As Reroute To Remain gave the band an unprecendted number 5 placing in the Swedish charts a month's worth of North American dates commenced in San Francisco on September 16th backed up by Sentenced, Killswitch Engage and Lacuna Coil. October headliners in Germany would be scheduled with support from Pain and Blackshine, although the latter act would subsequently be substituted by Soilwork.
Anders Friden embroiled himself in yet another in the very long line of Swedish side ventures by fronting up Passenger, a late 2002 band endeavour also incorporating his erstwhile In Flames colleague and Gardenian guitarist Niclas Engelin, Headplate bassist Håkan Skoger and ex-Transport League drummer Patrik J. Sten.
In Flames would be back on the North American touring circuit in March 2003 on a package billing allied with Industrialists Ministry and nu-metal act Mudvayne. An EP launched in Spring entitled Trigger saw the inclusion of a Genesis cover "Land Of Confusion". Title track of this EP also found its way onto the Freddy Vs. Jason movie soundtrack. As an aside, a novel promotional video for the Soilwork track "Rejection Role" saw the band in a turf war with the members of In Flames.
The band resumed touring in North America for a month long headline trek commencing 26th June in Toronto, Canada. Support acts comprised Soilwork, Chimaira and Unearth. Toward the close of 2003 guitarists Björn Gelotte and Jesper Strömblad found time in their schedule to activate an all new project dubbed All Ends as a collaboration with "musical artist" Tinna Karlsdotter and Björn's sister Emma Gelotte.
The band, re-signing to Nuclear Blast Records, set Soundtrack To Your Escape as the title of a new 2004 album produced by Daniel Bergstrand and ex-Misery Loves Co. man Örjan Örnkloo. A single, The Quiet Place, would be promoted with a video shot by director Patric Ullaeus. Quite spectacularly, the single landed at no. 2 in the national Swedish charts upon release. Soundtrack To Your Escape sold an impressive 10,659 copies during its first week of US release to debut at no. 145 on the Billboard charts. It would also go top five in Sweden.
Meantime, Regain Records re-issued the archive albums Lunar Strain and Subterranean, both hosting extra tracks. European dates in April saw DevilDriver as support act.
As Nielsen SoundScan reports showed that Soundtrack To Your Escape was healthily selling around 3,000 units a week in the USA, the UK's Metal Hammer magazine presented In Flames with their Best Underground Act award in June. In Flames put in Australian dates in September, allied with Chimaira. Two special shows later that same month, held at the Los Angeles Roxy and New York's infamous C.B.G.B.'s would be recorded for a live album. The band would perform two sets each night, the first comprising the entire Soundtrack To Your Escape album before closing the night with back catalogue tracks. Returning to Sweden, guitarists Björn Gelotte and Jesper Strömblad would swiftly set to work composing new material. The band closed out the year with a special performance on 27th December at the Carling Apollo Hammersmith in London alongside Lacuna Coil, Caliban and Chimaira. As part of the show In Flames performed a cover of Pantera's "Fucking Hostile" as a tribute to murdered Pantera/Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.
In Flames grabbed the high profile support to Judas Priest's February 2005 European dates. Throughout the Spring the band would be ensconced in Dug-Out Studios in Uppsala crafting the new album, given a working title Crawl Through Knives but subsequently switched to Come Clarity. The group also opened for Mötley Crüe on their two Finnish dates in early June. The band's lavish DVD set Used & Abused...In Live We Trust topped the Swedish charts in July upon release.
In Flames united with Motörhead and Girlschool for UK gigs throughout October and December. Daniel Svensson, awaiting the birth of his second child, sat out these shows as Tobbe Kellgren, a seasoned campaigner holding credits with Decameron, Dissection, Swordmaster, Soulreaper, Seventh One, Wolf and Satanized, stepped in as substitute. The band restructured its label dealings for Come Clarity, retaining Nuclear Blast for Europe but switching to Ferret Records for the USA. Quite spectacularly, the album crashed into the number one position on both the Swedish and Finnish album charts. Importantly, Come Clarity would sell 24,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at number 58 on the Billboard chart.
In Flames, Trivium, DevilDriver and Pennsylvania's Zao pooled their talents for a January 2006 US tour. European shows throughout April and May witnessed veteran Brazilian thrashers Sepultura and Frenchmen Dagoba as opening acts. The band put in a significant appearance at the Guns N' Roses headlined Download festival in Castle Donington, UK on June 11th. The group subsequently engaged in a gigantic roving festival billing with the US Sounds Of The Underground tour throughout the summer, commencing in Cleveland, Ohio on July 8th, partnered with As I Lay Dying, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Gwar, Terror, The Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth, The Chariot and Through The Eyes Of The Dead. During this trek Nuclear Blast announced that Soundtrack To Your Escape had surpassed 100,000 sales in the USA.
In Flames joined the the European leg of the Unholy Alliance tour, comprising Slayer, Children Of Bodom, Lamb Of God and Thine Eyes Bleed, in October. Further North American shows followed with Seemless and Lacuna Coil in December. For these concerts In Flames re-enlisted former guitarist Niklas Engelin to fill in for Jesper Strömblad, who was "sitting out the group's current tour in order to deal with some personal issues'. Björn Gelotte then stood down temporarily, due to impending fatherhood, and Henrik Danhage from Evergrey stood in.
To close the year, Black Lodge Records released a limited-edition 7" vinyl single from on December 13th comprising Come Clarity/Only For The Weak. 2007 opened for In Flames in fine as Soundtrack To Your Escape became the band's second album to pass the 100,000 sales marker in the USA.
In Flames were in pre-production mode by mid-February. Meantime, NightOfTheVinylDead reissued the 1997 EP Black-Ash Inheritance as a limited edition shaped picture disc vinyl.
UK concerts were cancelled as the band revealed Jesper Strömblad had entered a rehabilitation programme to combat alcohol addiction.
The band played the Thin Lizzy, Saxon, UFO, Motörhead and Heaven And Hell headlined August 2009 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.
(Source: MusicMight (ex-Rockdetector), 31.1.2013)