Everybody with an appreciable interest in extreme music has that one band and perhaps one album that served as the gateway to what would, for some, become an obsession. One doesn’t simply dive straight into your Immolations, Cryptopsys and Demilichs without first sampling the lighter, more accessible treats that the world of extreme music has to offer. More often than not, an unrelenting curiosity for all things fast and heavy will begin with a passing interest in a fusion genre, a delicate mix of accessibility and extreme influences, not too extreme to scare somebody off at first glance and not too accessible to bore one to death.
In Flames being one these bands, were ultimately the path-forgers for my seemingly never ending personal journey into the murky depths of death metal. Come Clarity was my first In Flames record, and though it’s as far removed from melodeath as possible, it helped desensitise me to harsh vocals. Had it not been for me randomly picking up said CD for a ridiculous $21.99 at HB Hi-Fi in 2006, I probably (no, actually, I definitely) wouldn’t be writing this review right now. I will always have an affection for Come Clarity as a result, but it’s Whoracle that will forever remain the most pivotal record for me in terms of how it shaped my taste in music, and why it reserves a special place in my CD collection after all these years.
Although cited as a “melodic death metal” album, you’d be hard pressed to really tag this as “death metal” of any sort. Sure, the influences are there, in the vocals and in the guitars; you can hear elements of something a little more menacing. But lacking the intricate melodies of The Jester Race and lacking the aggression of Colony, Whoracle’s simpler formula sandwiches it between two seemingly more purposeful albums. Critically, Whoracle has an advantage in that it’s far more accessible than either of the aforementioned. Although The Jester Race rules the roost in terms of absolute quality and Colony is closer to its “roots”, the two can be become quite overwhelming for beginners. Their non-stop barrage of melodies would have reduced a younger, uninitiated me to a zombie by the time “Lord Hypnos” or Clayman’s title track came along respectively. Whoracle never seemed to suffer from this issue. This is why it serves as such an appropriate stepping stone into the very bands and albums that influenced it; it just hits such a glorious sweet spot.
The opening riff on “Jotun” is an excellent display of flashy and melodic riffing, arguably the best introduction to any In Flames record, as it sucks the listener in from the get go. “Jotun” wouldn’t feel out of place on The Jester Race or Colony, as it’s the most akin to an actual death metal song than any the tracks that follow it. From this point on, Whoracle becomes less aggressive, a little more formulaic and favouring a more simplistic riff-based sound. “Morphing into Primal” is a good example, largely abandoning the hypnotic guitar leads that were ever-present on The Jester Race, it adds a much need element of variation to the record as a whole, despite being one of the weaker tracks. Gyroscope features the best balance of melody, aggression and simplicity on the album, built around one of the most infectious riffs In Flames have ever written; it weaves in and out seamlessly between beautiful harmonies and punchy loops making it one of the strongest cuts on the album. The highlight of Whoracle comes right in the middle in the form of Jester Script Transfigured, showcasing the once watertight song-writing abilities of this Gothenburg quintet. Beginning with an acoustic intro not unlike the one on “Moonshield”, it’s complimented by the melancholy spoken words of Anders Friden, before diving into a powerful riff consisting of a gorgeous octave shifting rise and fall. The song features a myriad of acoustic breaks as well; immaculate in execution, they simply add to the splendour of the main riff and give the song a fantastic dynamic.
However, even while containing some of In Flames’ best and most instantly recognisable material, Whoracle isn’t exactly flawless. “Morphing Into Primal” is dubbed as “filler” - even though it plays a key role in providing a transition from the melody soaked “Jester Script…” and the synth infused “Worlds Within The Margin” - it’s undeniable that at least in relation to rest of the release, it’s a poor track. The production is also not a clean as that of The Jester Race, while “Jotun”, “Gyroscope” and “Jester Script…” overcome this by featuring a lot of top string guitar wizardry, other tracks such as “Everything Counts” can sometimes have their riffs compromised by a particularly prominent snare drum tone and some odd vocal layering. So it’s established indefinitely that Whoracle is not a textbook record, so why exactly is it a classic? It’s an accurate assertion to say that nobody can really deliver a hyperbole-free explanation as to why something should be held in awe despite its flaws.
Everybody has one or two albums that they would consider “pivotal” in terms of why they listen to what they do at the moment; it could be something as universally acclaimed as Symbolic or Rust in Peace, or something deplorable like Suicide Silence’s The Cleansing. What makes one these “pivotal” albums “classics” in my eyes, is whether or not you can keep listening to them without putting on your rose-tinted specs and say that it hasn’t lost a single glimmer of lustre since you first heard it. This is why Whoracle and not Come Clarity retains its spot as “most pivotal” for me, because Whoracle blends accessibility and extremity seamlessly while Come Clarity was admittedly, a mainstream and fad-influenced take on “extreme” metal.
Even after what is now 6 years since I first heard it, Whoracle still sounds fresh, completely devoid of trends and unfazed by the notion that it could have scraped in a few more sales if the choruses were pitch corrected or if it had squeaky clean, compressed, “popish” production. The main riff on “Jester Script…” still gives me goose bumps, and I still (when nobody is looking) finger tap the instrumental “Dialogue of The Stars” on my air guitar. Whoracle deserves its place as a classic because it’s a no nonsense example of how to make an original piece of art composed of diametrically opposed influences and make it work, accessible but still completely inimitable.
Everybody with an appreciable interest in extreme music
Doesn't really make that much sense and/or sounds kinda elitist.
One doesn’t simply dive straight into your Immolations, Cryptopsys and Demilichs
"your" is unnecessary
not to accessible
In Flames being one these bands, were ultimately the path-forgers for my seemingly never ending personal journey into the murky depths of death metal.
Few things wrong here: 1. "In Flames being one these bands" is not a good start to a sentence. 2. "seemingly never ending" is absolutely unnecessary. 3. "ultimately" is unnecessary.
actually, no I definitely
"no, actually, I definitely"
But lacking the intricate melodies of The Jester Race and lacking the aggression of Colony, Whoracle’s simpler formula sandwiches it between two seemingly more purposeful albums, but critically, Whoracle has an advantage in that it’s far more accessible than either of the aforementioned.
Run-on, could use some retooling
Their non-stop barrage of melodies would have reduced an uninitiated 13 year old me to a zombie by the time “Lord Hypnos” or Clayman’s title track came along respectively, and yet Whoracle never suffered from this issue.
1. "reduced 13 year old me to a zombie" isn't really a good comparison. I'd go with something else.
2. Still kind of a run-on sentence, I'd fix some of the stuff there
You could probably shorten the fourth paragraph some. It's not your job to go so in-depth about the songs themselves, it's your job to talk about how they fit into the album. I'd cut it by about half if I were you, otherwise the review becomes too long.
Whoracle is far from flawless.
I'd say this less harshly since you're giving the album a 5. It's got a perfect score, it'd better be pretty damn close to flawless.
“Morphing Into Primal” is sometimes dubbed as “filler”
I don't care if it's "sometimes dubbed" something - is it or isn't it? That's your job to say, it doesn't really matter what others think.
So it’s established indefinitely that Whoracle is not a textbook record, so why exactly is it a classic? It’s a bold but accurate assertion to say that nobody can really deliver a hyperbole-free, unbiased explanation as to why something should be held in awe despite its flaws.
1. Rhetorical questions are usually a bad idea.
2. The second sentence here feels awkward, but I don't really know why. Maybe it's because there are too many adjectives in there.
You don't need to divide the conclusion into two paragraphs. If you feel it's necessary, then your review is too long. No one wants to read a really long review, and being concise is usually a good thing here.
Overall really good job. You ramble a bit here and there and your grammar isn't perfect, but you did good work here.