Review Summary: In Flames' second best album is oh so beautiful...
Whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying In Flames are one of the most important bands in the metal genre. They were formed over 20 years ago in Gothenburg and are considered one of the pioneers of melodic death metal . Although their newer albums have taken on a more mainstream sound, they released some real gems in the 90's. Their 1995 effort "The Jester Race" received widespread acclaim from critics and really pushed the band to new levels of fame. Two years later they released their third full length, "Whoracle". While not quite as impressive as its predecessor, it's still a great addition to the bands discography and an enjoyable listen for anyone who likes melodeath.
"Whoracle" perhaps focuses on melody more than any of the bands other material. Metal purists may say it's not "brutal" enough, but it's an undeniably catchy record. Beautifully harmonized guitars kick off the first track 'Jotun', which is definitely a stand out. The third song, 'Gyro' is also great and it's guitar intro has a definite "Jester Race" feel to it. Next up is one of my personal favorites. 'Dialogue with the Stars' is an instrumental that features some of the most harmonious and captivating guitar work I've heard in the genre. Its melodic riffs make it a guitar lovers dream come true. Unfortunately, the song does lose some of its magic after repeated listens, but it's still a highlight. 'Jesper Script Transfigured' also showcases the bands genius ability to craft amazing melodies. It's full of complex guitar playing, but also has the usual harmonizing which gives the song nice contrast.
The second half of the album is also great, but not as melodic which proves to be a good thing. Although the first six songs were amazing, they may be a little bit too light for some listeners. Thankfully, the final songs have more aggression, which helps balance out the record. 'Worlds within the Margin' and 'Episode 666' pack quite the punch. Both songs have some thrash influence incorporated into them which is something not really found in the earlier songs. The album finally comes to a close with 'Whoracle'. Honestly, this closing instrumental could have been alot better, but it's still a decent closer that provides some atmosphere to the albums final moments.
What else is there to say. Released in 1997, "The Whoracle" remains a very impressive offering from In Flames to this day. While it's a step down from the absolutely stellar "Jester Race", it is arguably the bands second best effort. It's full of impressive vocals and excellent guitar work. Vocalist Anders Friden also proves to be a good man for the job, but you'll be so enticed by the catchy guitars that the chances are you won't have time to worry about something as petty as the singing.