In Flames
The Jester Race


4.0
excellent

Review

by Shadows USER (89 Reviews)
April 29th, 2006 | 456 replies | 35,729 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


Looking to some of In Flames’ more recent metal releases – namely Soundtrack to Your Escape and Reroute to Remain – you may have spent a fair amount of time pondering just how a band like In Flames could possibly be considered the godfathers of the Gothenburg metal genre. To fully understand this theory as well as the immaculate material In Flames used to create, this is where your journey should began; back in 1995 with their second album, The Jester Race. As the first Flames album to feature Anders Fridén behind the mic, the band seems to have refined their sound to a faultless presentation of emotionally crushing, viciously melodic metal. Every aspect of Gothenburg that you may have envisioned in your mind is present here. Harmonies are beautiful, melodies are memorable, vocals are savage, and the riffs are ***ing metal. Quite honestly, The Jester Race is the ultimate Gothenburg album.

When the bleakest of powders…

The most noticeable high point of early In Flames is just what Gothenburg is rich in: melodic harmonies. Every song, from beginning to end, is absolutely packed full of entrancing guitar passages. Lead guitars are entwined to create a very musical guide through the fields of chugging riffs and carnivorous shrieks. Wondrous clean guitar interludes and smooth acoustic guitars flow cleanly from metal mayhem to captivatingly tranquil musical settings. These soundscapes appear in forms ranging from December Flower’s faster, heavier vibe to The Jester’s Dance’s clean instrumental repose. Moonshield and the aptly titled Acoustic Medley compliment each other with stunning dual acoustic resonance. Wayfaerer and Artifacts of the Black Rain both produce a striking emotional feel to break through an appearance of heartless extreme metal. The array of gorgeous musical concordances is endless on this album, and In Flames seems to put themselves through an unbearable Lunar Strain (yes, a bad pun) of writing and skill honing to create such an onslaught of aural sex.

…lie rooted to the starched stones…

To create an astonishing contrast of sounds, the opposite side of the metal spectrum has been utilized in such songs as Dead God in Me with an affinity for dark riffing, and Gyroscope, which combines a serene acoustic backing with a chugging rifftastic attack. Goliaths Disarm Their Davids, Lord Hypnos and December Flower all contain notable soloing efforts by axe wielders Jesper Strömblad and Glenn Ljungström as well as an impressive display Strömblad’s keyboard virtuosity. Dead Eternity bears interesting melodic groove riffing that catches attention like a speeding train prepared to maul through a school bus parked on the tracks.

…and roots that feed the peaking trees…

As the premier release of one of metal’s most popular genres, The Jester Race has set one hell of a bar for the rest of Swedish melodic metal. While various bands have since claimed the crown of the modern time, metal’s roots will always have to pay homage to the almighty In Flames. Merely two albums into their career and they had already achieved the very thing that Gothenburg bands strive for: a flurry of melodic leads, alluring harmonies, peaceful passages, and an underbelly of unrelenting extreme metal with a borderline psychotic voice taking charge. While it takes most bands a decade or more to accomplish musical hegemony, it took In Flames a mere 10 songs to thrash listeners into a Graveland (pun II) of composed bloodshed. Key moments on the album include the clean guitar interludes of The Jester’s Dance and The Jester Race, the harmonized riffing of Dead Eternity and Artifacts of the Black Rain, and all of the acoustic passages scattered throughout the album.

…embrace the sleeping shores.

Recommended listening:
- Artifacts of the Black Rain
- The Jester Race
- December Flower

Bear in mind that every song here is pure Swedish perfection. It’s near impossible to narrow the tracklist down to three preferred songs, so do yourself a favor and buy the entire album.

Pros include:
- Excellent use of harmonized guitars
- Memorable riffs and melodies
- Acoustic and clean guitar sections dispersed throughout
- A constant theme, yet each track is different
- Melancholic yet enthralling atmosphere

Note: The album was re-issued in 2002 with the Black Ash Inheritance EP as bonus tracks; tracks 11-14 are only available on this re-issue.



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user ratings (1828)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kage
April 30th 2006


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fantastic review of a great album. I love In Flames, and this is obviously one of their best albums. My favorite song is the title track, but every song is good. This is a classic album in my opinion, and one that made In Flames legends.


Txus
April 30th 2006


75 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing review man, one of the best I've seen lately. This is my favorite In Flames album along with Clayman.

=-fukifiknow-=
April 30th 2006


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well said, the swedes dfinently are the gods of the metal genra

pattern_recognition
April 30th 2006


950 Comments


Great album, great review.
I'd argue that Dark Tranquility are more the definitive godfathers of Gothenburg however. Although back in the day they shared a few members with In Flames, so I guess it's all good.

Neoteric
April 30th 2006


3243 Comments


Finally, a ShadowsFallen review, I haven't seen one in ages. Good job!

gigi666
April 30th 2006


257 Comments


their best album =)

the jester race is my fav. song


jayb999
April 30th 2006


29 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love In Flames!! they are a great band i have to agree tht the jester race is thr second best album just behind Come Clarity. Great review as usual SF

Shadows
Moderator
April 30th 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you thank you thank you, it has been quite a while for me. I'd say In Flames far surpasses Dark Tranquillity within the genre, as DT is a very unusual form of Gothenburg and doesn't really sound like any other bands in the genre.

Scoot
April 30th 2006


17748 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It kind of saddens me how far In Flames fell before slightly coming back, but not being as good as before. Great review of this great album.

south_of_heaven 11
April 30th 2006


5433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am in the process of ordering this as we speak...(but I'm getting it shipped with the new Chili Pepper's album, so its gonna be awhile before I get it)
However, I've heard Moonshield and The Jester Race and I absolutely love them both. They are amazing songs, and I can't wait to get this album.
Great review too!

Shadows
Moderator
April 30th 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you like those two, you'll love the rest of the album, It is sad that they've fallen away from this, but at least they put out a number of great albums before falling to modern times.

south_of_heaven 11
April 30th 2006


5433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It is sad that they've fallen away from this, but at least they put out a number of great albums before falling to modern times

I know, I shed a tear every now then...although if they continue to improve (you must admit, CC was far better than STYE), I think they might regain a good deal of their former glory.

Thor
May 1st 2006


10191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A most excellent review. I have only heard their new album Come Clarity, but I have heard that I should check this out. I will in the near future.

Shadows
Moderator
May 1st 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

IDK about that Gothenburg statement though. I think IF defines the melodic death sound; the band is a pioneer for much of metal, although I wish they had more of an influence on some bands from today. Their influence on the sound itself is undeniable.

What Gothenburg statement? I'd rank them as the second greatest Gothenburg band ever.

Drunken Viking
May 2nd 2006


1023 Comments


He thinks they are Melo Death not Gothenburg I think.

Shadows
Moderator
May 2nd 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh. No, they're definitely Gothenburg, not melodic death.

Drunken Viking
May 2nd 2006


1023 Comments


Isn't Gothenburg a sub category of melo death, or death metal in general.

pattern_recognition
May 2nd 2006


950 Comments


To my understanding, Gothenburg is a subcategory of melo-death, named after the city in Sweden that originally produced several bands that carved out their own niche built on the foundation of stuff like At The Gates, the godfathers of all melo-death. These guys and DT are pretty much the quintessensial Gothenburg bands, with groups like Soilwork bringing up the second tier. Now, I like these guys more than DT, but the reason I feel that DT are more typically Gothenburg is because of DT's heavier use of keyboards and ambient atmospherics, which I feel is one of the defining factors of Gothenburg.
Still, I could be wrong, it's been a while since I looked any of this up. Don't get me wrong, In Flames are one of my favourite bands, I was just raising an interesting semantic point that all us If and DT fanatics could argue about.

Shadows
Moderator
May 3rd 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't say that DT is the defining Gothenburg band at all. They're basically the only Gothenburg band to use keys and atmospheres like that. Arch Enemy and onld In Flames define the genre, with all of the melodies and guitar harmonies.

But yes, it's a subgenre of melodic death, although most don't consider it to be death metal at all (which it really isn't).

Shadows
Moderator
May 3rd 2006


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Melodic death is much, much heavier and more technical than Gothenburg. Compare this album with and Arsis album for example, and the difference is immense.



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