Come Clarity for many is a return to form for In Flames, a band who have influenced countless other up and coming metal groups over the last 10-15 years. With many support gigs over the last few years, as well as a successful slot on last years Ozzfest tour, In Flames have embarked on a long string of headlining dates here in the US, stopping at the Webster Hall club in New York City in mid-February. Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were on hand at the sold-out and packed event, and each brings their take on the night's festivities.
Ken Pierce: In Flames deserves every ounce of the acclaim that they receive, for together with At The Gates, they were one of the forefathers of the Gothenburg sound
of Metal. This sound has become so intensely popular over the years and it is continually imitated and often modified to suit the purpose of the band who originally found interest in it. Bands like Soilwork and Dark Tranquility are among the most popular of the groups who found inspiration in the music of In Flames and tonight would be the chance for a lot of people to see exactly why this was the case. Once again the dramatic setting of Webster Hall would be the scene and again the venue was completely sold out. This is great for the band because in a realm where American Idol and Rap music rule the waves of both television and radio it is a feather in one's cap to be sold out to the rafters in a venue with capacity of about 1300 people. In Flames would be celebrating two events
this evening, with the first primarily being the support of their new album Come Clarity. The album itself a little different from their usual sound yet more accessible to a wider audience based on some of the ideas on it. The other celebration would be the move to Ferret Music, a label where In Flames would perhaps be the biggest fish in the pond and therein get the most accommodation from the executives.
Opening the show would be Zao, Devildriver and Trivium. To be honest I absolutely hated Zao with the exception of the drummer. He seemed pretty skilled and I guess overall the rest of what they did wasn't standing out enough for me. The singer was all screams and pretty much kept his activity to the backline amps and drum kit. I'm sorry but when I am in the audience I like the band to make it seem like we are actually there and not like they are at rehearsal space. Devildriver would come up next and this band led by Dez Farfala from Coal Chamber was as impressive as when I caught them on "Sounds Of The Underground 2005". Proving that Dez knows how to work the crowd well was never more apparent than when he said he needed a circle pit right in front of him since they were filming the performance tonight. I happened to be atop in the balcony at that moment and was glad since it literally became chaos down on the floor. It was cool to look at from my vantage point and I am positive that a lot of banged up audience members
were the result of this segment of the show.
Trivium would be next up and these guys have been getting a lot of great shows over the past few months. I have seen them almost as much as Into Eternity who I was catching at every third concert it seemed. Singer/guitarist Matt Heafy brings a lot of energy to his performance and he truly seems like he is being recharged by the crowd. Tracks from Ascendancy were performed as well as a show stopping rendition of Pantera's "Walk". I can say that the whole audience was "fists in the air" and singing along to this one and clearly Dime's spirit heard this one going on.
When In Flames came out the venue was absolutely packed and it seemed difficult to maneuver around from anywhere you went. This must have given the guys an added boost as performers because they hit the stage with a great amount of energy and force that you could feel like a physical thing. From start to finish the band had an excellent sound and the mood of the room served the purpose well once again. I was here a few months ago for Opeth and while a different night of music the venue also worked for them. Clearly this place will be perfect for some of these super bands, and for In Flames it seemed to work just fine. A great overall sound and a loaded to the gills set holding at 21 songs surely gave everyone who was there a satisfied smile. Anders is a really good front man and you expect that of someone in the business as long as he had been doing this, plus the entire band was musically on point and sounded clean with no over whelming loudness or distortions. Old and new material was the way to go for the group tonight and I did expect a little more of the new album to be performed than actually was executed but I have to say it was impressive all around. There was a lot of Iron Maiden styled guitar dueling going on between Bjorn Galotte & Jesper Stromblad which definitely shined tonight. In Flames was always a band that upped the ante in their delivery and this aspect of their music set them apart from a lot of the Death Metal bands from back in the day. Their early forays into the more Melodic side of the genre has influenced too many to reference. While the band has modified its style even more for the new album, the old was not forgotten by any stretch of the imagination as their classic Death Metal anthem "Behind Space" (from the very first album Lunar Strain) was performed to the ravenous fans. Before the show I had caught up with Anders Friden who was walking about the club meeting people. When I told him I was doing some review of the show he joked that I had better do a good job. My reply was if you do the same I
can do it with no problem, and looking back on the night I have to say he really delivered on his promise. Come Clarity is a great place to jump on board with In Flames if you are only the casual fan at this point, it's a fine blend of old and new and to see them in concert is truly a worthwhile experience. Shortly after this concert had happened In Flames was offered a spot on the Main Stage at the 2006 Sounds of the Underground festival, and this will open the band up to a wider audience than ever possible in addition to doing their own headlining shows, so make sure if you attend that you catch them. You will not be disappointed.
Pete Pardo-Being an In Flames admirer for a few years, this was actually going to be my first time catching this legendary band live. Webster Hall seemed like the perfect setting for the triumphant returns of the Swedish melodic death metal mavens, who are riding high with the success of their debut on Ferret Records Come Clarity, a solid album that combines both the commercial appeal of their last few releases with the classic death metal sounds of their earlier material. The venue played a perfect home to the New York City stop on Opeth's recent tour, as the club has an interestingly dark and gothic ambience going on, not to mention that it also holds close to 1300 people. This night was a sold out show, and the fans were eager to see their heroes once again.
Opening the show was Zao, a doomy-thrash outfit who, while having material with some interesting riffs, had literally no stage presence and a singer who relied too much on dissonant screaming. DevilDriver were up next, and these guys know how to work a room, as they blasted through a short set of vintage sounding thrash heavy on complex riffs, driving rhythms, and aggressive vocals. Singer Dez Farfala, formerly of Coal Chamber, is a great front man who really works hard to get the crowd into a frenzy. As he proved at last summer's Sounds of the Underground festival, Dez has a special rappor with the fans, and at this show was able to instigate one of the largest and sickest mosh pits I have seen in years. Literally the entire ground floor area was one massive maelstrom of crashing and flying bodies, and it lasted for almost an entirety of one song. I had to move from the lower level to the upper balcony to get a look at the insanity, and to get out of the way!
Trivium have been very busy on the touring circuit the last year or so, recently sharing the stage and opening up for Fear Factory at Irving Plaza. Led by energetic singer/guitarist Matt Heafy, Trivium are the darlings of the Roadrunner Records roster, as they combine brutal trash chops with complex and melodic arrangements that are classic to the Gothenburg scene, as well as some commercial hooks. On this night they would not disappoint, as they ripped through a set heavy on tunes from their debut for Roadrunner Ascendancy. The dual lead guitars of Heafy and Corey Beaulieu weave plenty of intricate passages and provide a solid wall of rhythmic crunch, while Heafy's vocal attack ranges from thrash screams, to death metal growls, to clean melodic grace. Trivium are a band that already has a large and loyal following, and finding themselves on so many recent metal bills is really helping to gain new fans each time out. Their upcoming appearance on the Sounds of the Underground tour should also help them as well.
In Flames took the stage and were a runaway train from the outset, rampaging through a huge set list of material from throughout their career that left the audience extremely happy. Classic songs like "Leeches", "Pinball Map", "Trigger", "Touch of Red", and the catchy "My Sweet Shadow" were played with blistering aggression yet with accurate precision...these guys are tight. Dual guitar leads and harmonies were flying all over the mix, and Anders Friden's vocals were spot on the entire night. It was great to hear some older material sprinkled throughout the set, like the speedy death metal classic "Behind Space" and one of my favorites, "Colony", being two perfect examples. Of course a few songs from the new album were played as well, the kick ass "Take This Life" being one of the highlights, but I'm surprised they didn't play more from Come Clarity. I gather the band really wanted to make this a career retrospective night, and looking back that pretty much worked out fine for everyone in attendance. The fists were pumping, the heads were banging, the air guitars were playing, and hundreds of mouths were singing along to every song. In Flames, much like Children of Bodom, are seemingly on the verge of mainstream metal acceptance here in the US. This band has worked hard for many years, influenced legions of bands, and now are poised to reap the rewards.
In Flames Set List
1. Pinball Map
5. Insipid 2000
6. Behind Space
8. Crawl Through Knives
9. Black & White
10. Take This Life
11. Dial 595
12. Cloud Connected
15. World Within The Margin
16. Episode 666
17. Only For The Weak
19. The Quiet Place
20. Touch Of Red
21. My Sweet Shadow
Photos by Pete Pardo
Official Web site: www.inflames.com
Official Web site: www.devildriver.com
Official Web site: www.trivium.org