20th anniversary of classic worthy of attracting new death metal fans

In the midst of today’s ever growing musical world, it can be hard to find anything; sometimes people don’t even know where to begin. While this may not show you every song, album or EP that you’d ever dream of hearing, let this inspire you to search and dive into the infinitely deep hole that is the modern music world.

Today we’re going outside of the United States. and over to Gothenburg Sweden, the home of what is known as melodic death metal, where we’ll specifically be covering In Flames and their 2000 album, Clayman, while also touching on the few songs that they re-made for the albums 20th anniversary. 

The band has shifted around members a lot, but they have had only two consistent members: Anders Fridén, their vocalist, and Björn Gelotte, their current guitarist. Their genre, as previously stated, is melodic death metal, sometimes shortened to MeloDeath, a genre that takes its heft from heavy metal, but with their guitar riffs being very melodic in nature. In Flames doesn’t just chug adrenaline and scream into the microphone, although there is a lot of that, they sometimes will slow themselves down, which can create moments of beauty, just before breaking out into the Death part of the genre’s name.

Clayman, released July 3, 2000, takes the band’s previous efforts on albums like Colony and The Jester Race, and brings them into a newer age, focusing more on their vocals, as The Jester Race, one of their most critically acclaimed albums, had superb guitar playing that ended up inspiring countless people, their vocals weren’t as pronounced. In Clayman, the vocals feel right up front and in your face. Fridén delivers guttural, powerful vocals on each song, but isn’t past sometimes whispering vocals or taking them slower and droning them out on songs like “Only for the Weak” and “Square Nothing.” 

The whole album of Clayman is about depression and struggles on the internal level. One song that represents this is “Pinball Map,” and it’s simple yet still enjoyable meaning. The song is about the singer being pushed all over the place and moved everywhere without his consent, being pushed around like a pinball, and the chorus mentions an “Unknown Driver” of said pinball, feeling like your life isn’t in your control and unknown forces are constantly pushing you around. I wanted to give special mention to the album cover, obviously inspired by Leonardo Da VInci’s Vitruvian Man, except screaming out.

Going over the few tracks that were re-made in 2020, there isn’t much to say, good or bad. They all feel more tame, more commercialized, most likely of the general shift they took in their music career. All of the songs are missing the wild, unpolished feeling that they had. None of these renditions are necessarily bad, they just lack the vigor that the originals had. Taking a step back then and looking at this album, it’s a great entry point into the MeloDeath genre, and encompasses  a lot of what makes it special. This album deserves an 8/10.

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