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In Flames - Colony

1999 Nuclear Blast Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-07

Is it me, or have all of Sweden's heavywights released albums all in the same month? While some have disappointed (Dark Tranquillity), I'm plesantly surprised by the return to form that In Flames have taken here. I say this for while I felt that Whoracle was a good album, it was a huge letdown for me after the brilliance of The Jester Race. Some of this may be that the band had less opportunity to work on the Whoracle songs, but I think that it was more the fact that Whoracle caught the band in transition, with longtime In Flamesians Glenn Ljundstrom and Johan Larsson leaving the band after that album's recording. Niklas Engelin from Gardenian stepped in, but left to be replaced by drummer Bjorn Gelotte, who was responsible for a lot of the new material. This change was for the best, as the band's intensity has been upped a notch by new skinsman Daniel Svensson (ex-Sacrilege). The movement towards the pop realm is still taking place, but I have to hand it to In Flames for keeping the faith in the vocal department, because to my ears, that's the main factor keeping this band from the mainstream limelight (well, and maybe that lightning double bass work). Changing the vocals could have made things "easier" for the band, but thankfully for us fans, they don't seem to have any intention of this is in the near future. There's no real point in trying to describe what Colony sounds like, for In Flames is one of those rare bands that you compare other bands to, not vice-versa. To attempt it anyway, I guess the core sound is an updated Iron Maiden/Judas Priest sense of axework, tuned down to B of course, Frieden spitting out his venomous vox with a sense of power and clarity. Which is a good thing, as his lyrics are once again as intelligent and thought provoking as we've come to expect. Expanding on his conceptual ideas given earlier, it's more like reading a book than a metal lyric sheet. Anders explains his ideas in the interview better than I ever could, so I won't butcher the points he's trying to get across. Another picture perfect Studio Fredman production doesn't hurt this opus either, all instruments strong and mixed well to clarify the attack. I have to say this much though, my immediate favorite song on the album is their 1999 rendition of Behind Space, an awesome song done justice by this confident new line-up. No doubt this is partially due to previous knowledge of the song, but it is a little scary to think that the older stuff may sound more powerful than what is more recent. The whole album grew on me exponentially though, and I have no doubts that this disc will be spun long after the cows have gone to pasture, an occurance which is becoming rarer and rarer as my album collection grows. So, while there are some interesting points in the album (a little organ line pops up at one spot), In Flames are back to business, totally ready to conquer the world this time around, and I for one wish them the best of luck.