Album Review: In Flames - Clayman - 20th Anniversary Edition
Reviewed by Carl Black
I’m gutted. That’s my review. I’m well and truly gutted.
I’ve seen In Flames three times. Once headlining over Sepultra, they played for over two hours at a 1000 capacity venue. The second was at Donington, the strange year when the whole arena was to the west of the track and everyone had to walk 45 minutes from their campsite, a sea of black and synced head banging, I was not a fan. The third time was, again, at Donington a couple of years ago. I saw them from afar, and apart from placing a beer cooler at the front of the stage and dedicating the next song to said beer cooler, I thoroughly enjoyed them.
That was my last interaction with In Flames. I have never pursued my interest in them, until now, when the 20th anniversary re-issue of their 2000 release 'Clayman' fell in my lap. The band have re-recorded a couple of the tracks, remastered the rest, added some bonus material and re-vamped the art work.
But forget all the bits and pieces, it’s the songs that make this a class act. They have subliminal hooks that don’t enter the head on first hearing, but once they click, they are hard to shift from your frontal lopes. Songs like, opener 'Bullet Ride' and 'Pinball Map' have a hard metal riff with some brilliantly clever, but not over complex melody over the top. The vocals give it that harder edge, a clash of styles in many ways that when blended together make a perfect mix. At times it verges on power/Euro metal ('Square Nothing'), flirts with industrial ('Clayman'), and holds the little finger of nu-metal ('Brush The Dust Away').
My first encounter would have been 15-20 years ago so I have undoubtedly heard some material from this album live. And this is why I am gutted, gutted that I never got into them sooner or pursued my interest before now. If the quality on this album is typical of their style, I’m disappearing down the In Flames rabbit hole with 'Clayman' as my entry point. If you, like me, have not given In Flames a chance, I would start here.
The 20th anniversary edition of 'Clayman' is release on August 28th via Nuclear Blast.