In Flames are a band that have suffered from Metallica syndrome in my opinion. Early releases were kickass, with The Jester Race and Clayman being notable for kicking major ass, but lately, with the halfhearted Come Clarity, and the abysmal Soundtrack To Your Escape In Flames have been offering quite poor quality melodic death metal. However, this is an early In Flames release. So how does it rank amongst the classics of melodeath this band has produced?
Well, it's pretty hard to tell exactly where Colony lies, because as with every IF album, it's not quite the previous album, nor quite the next. Everything this band has done has taken a logical progression over the years, and although that progression (or regression) may not always have been critically received well, at least we cannot accuse the band of standing still. Neither did they stand still on this record, and it turns out it's quite a good album, despite having some unstandout tracks.
Especially the middle section of the record stands out in my opinion. Colony, Zombie Inc., Pallar Anders Visa and Coerced Coexistence form the heart of a climax of sorts. The band progressively builds up and loses steam through the album. Opener Embody the Invisible never quite struck me as awesome, I find it to be lacklustre for an opening track. Especially since with the kickass songs that they have produced as openers (Jotun, Moonshield, Bullet Ride), this kind of pales in comparison. It just doesn't have that kick. Although it's still classic IF, with the riffing and solos, it's just... not that good.
Ordinary Story is already a lot better, but Anders' vocals kind of ruin the song from becoming really great instead of just merely good. One reason why I can never enjoy any In Flames album as a whole is because at some point or other, the vocals start to work on my bloody nerves. He can pull it off, as he shows on Colony, Zombie Inc. and Coerced Coexistence... but sometimes, Anders sounds like he's been kicked in the nuts once too often.
However, despite these flaws, Colony has a fairly large amount of highlights. Pallar Anders Visa is an acoustic instrumental in the vein of The Jester's Dance and Whoracle, another excellent song that I really love (Isn't it a coincidence how all my favourite IF songs seem to exclude Anders?). Colony is brutal, melodic and heavy, a perfect standard In Flames song, just like they should do it. Zombie Inc. has a similar high quality star rating to it, the guitar flurries are memorable, the vocals aren't annoying, and it's just heavy and melodic, quality overall. Another classic In Flames track.
Scorn and Resin especially stand out because the guitar work is really good, although Jesper doesn't shred, his solos are nevertheless melodic and the rhythm guitars are evil and brutal. The guitars to me have been the defining aspect of this band. If the guitars here are not on fire, this band really floats nowhere, because although Daniel Svensson is a good drummer, the problem is that drums and bass do not carry songs in this band. Even if Daniel displays some ***ing awesome double bass fills, it needs some heavy riffing and solos or acoustic melodies to take it somewhere, and luckily, they are aplenty on this album, and they are especially important because Anders' vocals are quite a letdown. On here he isn't *that* bad, and hence the high star rating for this album, but I cannot emphasise enough how important Stromblad and Gelotte are to this band to ensure they put out some quality music.
The last three tracks I can't get into. Behind Space '99 is an adaptation of the Lunar Strain version, and it's just a standard IF track, nothing really special about it, although the updated version with better production sounds quite good. The last two tracks do especially nothing for me, I simply can't recall anything from them, or how they sound... if that's the case with me, it usually means they're quite forgettable and the album closes in a very mediocre way.
Overall, there are enough tracks on here to make the disc worth a listen. The especially strong middle section ensures that this album floats above the rest of the drabble that In Flames has managed to create in recent years. It's not the best record they ever put out, but it's good enough, and it was a logical next step in the musical evolution of the band. Overall it's quite a good disc, but it's just not up there. It simply can't touch The Jester Race. But hey, at least it's a ***load better than Soundtrack To Your Escape, am I right? Check this disc out if you're a fan of the band and the genre especially.