Soilwork Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Soilwork are a metal band from Helsigborn, Sweden. Their current lineup consists of vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, guitarists David Andersson and Sylvian Coudrat, as well as Sven Karlsson on keyboards and drummer Bastian Thusgaard.

With the band’s new, EP A Whisp of the Atlantic, released earlier this month, the time has never been better to take a deep dive into the band’s diverse history, as we rank every main Soilwork record.

#11 – Verklighten (2019)

Let’s start things off by saying that I do really enjoy this album. It’s beautifully produced and features some catchy hooks, though it’s too light and airy for my tastes, ultimately lacking the emotion and impact that I have come to expect from Soilwork.

Arrival and When the Universe Spoke are two incredible tracks, but so much on Verklighten leaves a lot to be desired. It’s clear just how much of an impact Strid’s side band, The Night Flight Orchestra, has had on his songwriting, there’s a lot of crossover. I actually prefer NFO to Soilwork ironically, though that does not sway my mind.

#10 – Sworn to a Great Divide (2007)

It’s unfortunate to phrase something so harshly, but there’s no other way to say it. The 2000s were dominated by Soilwork largely phoning in their performances, and it shows.

Great Divide has some good songs on offer, the title track and Your Beloved Scapegoat being great examples. It doesn’t negate the fact that this album is thoroughly unmemorable. I have been a fan of the band for many years, and I never revisit this one. Divide avoids bottom place as at least it’s heavy enough to keep my attention.

#9 – Figure Number Five (2003)

Here’s where I’m torn. I find this album as a whole to blend together into a haze of forgettable white noise for the most part. Contrast this stance, however, with the fact that two of my favourite Soilwork songs Rejection Role and Distortion Sleep are on the tracklist.

If anything, that makes the disappointment of this album sting worse. Imagine if the songwriting quality was that consistent across the board, I would be singing a different tune for sure. As it stands No. 5 really let me down.

#8 – The Panic Broadcast (2010)

In an effort to break away from their established formula, Soilwork’s 2010 album tries to do a lot of different things, and it was certainly a step in the right direction that should be commended.

Deliverance and The Thrill brought back the reckless and relentless edge, as heard on the band’s early work, where Let This River Flow successfully melded acoustic guitars and sweeping melodies with the rich ballad inspired highs of Strid’s singing voice. There’s variety here, it’s not as predictable or safe.

#7 – Stabbing the Drama (2005)

Following directly after Figure Number 5, Stabbing the Drama is an album that knows what it wants to be and makes for comfortable listening.

A similar story with the predecessor, Drama features some very strong songs, namely the title track and Nerve, two tracks that are still live staples to this day, and for good reason.

The rest of the record tends to feel unremarkable. It has its moments for sure, but is unlikely to wow on first listen. I have a comfortable nostalgia for Drama, and yet I cannot be deterred.

#6 – A Predator’s Portrait (2001)

Perhaps the darkest album of their discography, Soilwork combines lofty ambitions with powerful songwriting to create a record with a razor sharp touch.

Grand Failure Anthem, Like the Average Stalker and Bastard Chain are highlights on this release. All three are fast, brutal and punchy, never outstaying their welcome. That’s what I appreciate so much about this album, it says what it needs to and wastes no time in going straight for the throat.

#5 – Natural Born Chaos (2002)

Shifting gears away from the more straightforward melodeath sound of the trilogy of albums that proceeded it, Natural Born Chaos introduced many elements that would later go onto define the modem Soilwork sound.

Songs included acoustic guitar and a heavier use of synthesisers, with Bjorn utilising his singing voice more proactively than before. No More Angels, Follow the Hollow and Black Star Deceiver stand far and away my favourites from Natural Born Chaos, and illustrate exactly how special this sound was, whilst also condemning the band too in the near future.

#4 – The Ride Majestic (2015)

A very strong album that unfortunately had massive shoes to fill. The previous album was a landmark in metal music, we’ll get to it momentarily, though for all that The Ride Majestic gets right, it can’t help but linger in the shadow of what came before.

I genuinely love every song on this album with highlights including that of the title track, Death In General, Whirl of Pain and Petrichor by Sulphur. I remember the day this record dropped, I couldn’t stop listening to it. Definitely one of Soilwork’s most overlooked albums, and that’s a shame.

#3 – The Chainheart Machine (2000)

Everything you could ever want from melodic death metal. The Chainheart Machine is unforgiving in its aggression and speed, here Bjorn Strid really does get to live up to his namesake.

Possessing the Angels and Machine Gun Majesty are fiercely fast melodeath tracks that cut straight through to your very core. Bulletbeast is an all-out assault on the senses, in the best way possible. If I was to mark this album down for anything, it would be the production. This album is a product of its time, with guitars a little too buried in the mix, and the tones omitted a little thin for my liking. Still, very minor issues.

#2 – Steelbath Suicide (1998)

As with The Chainheart Machine, and at the risk of repeating myself, I ask you, what more could you possibly want out of melodic death metal?

It’s all here. The guitar riffs are polemic, Strid sounds the best he ever did with his harsh vocals and the impressive pace of it all never waivers for long. At just over 35 minutes in length, Steelbath Suicide manages to be equal parts memorable and influential, especially impressive for a debut following in the wake of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and other melodeath greats emerging from the country at the time.

#1 – The Living Infinite (2013)

Was there ever any doubt? At nearly an hour and a half in length, across 20 songs, it’s a testament to Soilwork’s creativity and talent when I tell you that every single song on this album is phenomenal.

Performances across the board are immaculate too. The band strike a considered balance of melody, choruses and strong riffs that all have their place on this monolithic double album.

It’s challenging to know how to nail it down specifically. My best advice I can offer is just to listen to it in its entirety. I remember when this album launched, I was overjoyed as I realised that Soilwork had not only redeemed themselves for previous efforts, but completely innovated too.

If you’re looking for a place to start with this album, might I recommend The Windswept Mercy, Tongue, Leech, and This Momentary Bliss. It’s rare for a band to be putting out their best material decades after a debut, but even more so to change an entire genre so vividly. I am aware of how negative I may have come across in this article, just know that my critiques come from a place of love and understanding. I’ve seen them over five times, even the low ranked material is worth spinning at least once, I just hope we get more in the vein of this album, and less bleeding through from other bands in the future.

Dark Tranquillity – Moment Review

A very long four years has passed since the band released their last record, Atoma, in 2016. After all that time, does Moment live up to their prior work and justify the wait? It’s complicated.

I’ll state this as clearly as I can for those uninitiated. I love Dark Tranquillity and have done for almost a decade now. I got into their music with seminal works such as Fiction and The Gallery, and you can see my extended thoughts on their discography in the ranked feature on this site. However, I find myself torn on their new record. I should absolutely adore it, but I find myself doubting as to why I can’t quite make my mind up.

Let’s start with what I do know. For one, It’s a beautifully produced metal record and performances across the board are second to none. Mikael Stanne is one of the best vocalists in melodeath today and it shows, his profound lyricicsm too, elevates the material passed that of the band’s contemporaries in the genre. This is nothing new. Thus we get to my biggest problem with Moment overall, it is nothing new, and after nearly half a decade of waiting, I was expecting something a little stronger.

Every hallmark that you would expect of Dark Tranquillity is on full display here. Synths, check. A striking mixture of growling verses and cleanly sung choruses? Present. Infectious hooks? In spades. The problem arises to the fact that, even after several rotations, I am still struggling to recount much about the record besides the singles, and that is not a good thing. Phantom Days and The Dark Unbroken are strong tracks that throwback to the band’s grace period of Character and Fiction, with Eyes of the World beautifully reminiscent of the band’s work on experimental albums like Haven, with the latter featuring extensive use of Stanne’s richly warm baritone voice.

With regards to Stanne’s performance overall, I was pleasantly shocked to have to wait until the fourth track on Moment to hear his clean delivery breakout. It was a nice change of pace in the formula. I do wish that the rest of the record carried this same defiance of the established normality, instead of leaning on genre convention, something that the latter half of this album tends to do, with the exception of closing track In Truth Divided. This song brought back a lot of memories to Projector, and I am happy to see the band harkening back to their more diverse category and trying something different.

I won’t go so far as to say formulaic or forgettable, but I will state how songs like A Drawn Out Exit, Ego Deception and Failstate seem very paint by numbers. It’s sad to see musicians, as creative as this, coasting on autopilot, refusing to break the mould when the groundwork is laid to innovate and produce another masterpiece. These are good songs! Hell, these are great songs! Though, for Dark Tranquillity, and given all that time that’s gone by, songs like these were really the best they could do in over four years?! It feels like padding, and it’s a shame.

This approach could partially be explained away by the lineup changes that have happened between records, with long time guitarists Martin Henriksson departing after the release of Atoma in 2016 and Niklas Sundin leaving this year. Newcomers Christopher Amott (Arch Enemy, Armageddon) and Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda, Widow) don’t do a bad job where it counts, though it explains why a lot of Moment is as generic as it is in places. Not a bad record whatsoever, one that I am enjoying, but still a disappointment. Here’s hoping in a few years, when the band’s new line-up is more established and ready to contribute together, that we will get a truly outstanding Dark Tranquillity album that lives up to the legacy.

Insomnium Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Insomnium are a melodic death metal band from Finland formed in 1997. In their over twenty year career, they have made a name for themselves carving out their own identity in the genre by blending rich atmospheres, melodies and folk influence in a way that makes them stand out amongst their peers.

The three founding members are: bassist and vocalist Niilo Sevänen, drummer Markus Hirvonen and guitarist Ville Friman. The lineup has expanded since 2011 when the band recruited Markus Vanhala (Omnium Gatherum) and most recently, Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering) for guitar duties in 2019.

With Insomnium’s world tour about to commence following the release and success of their newest album, Heart Like a Grave late last year, the time has never been better to take a look back at the band’s extensive back catalogue as tonight we rank all of Insomnium’s core releases.

Insom ATD

#8 – Across The Dark (2009)

I need to preface this entire article by saying that I genuinely do love every Insomnium record and that the ranking order really is down to a few small preferences and nothing outlying. Across The Dark is a fantastic album that features some of the bands best songs including: Weighed Down with Sorrow and Down With The Sun. However, this album came out a time where Insomnium had a very well established sound. It did not break as much new ground as what came before it, nor did it innovate in the ways of the latter records that would succeed this one.

In the halls

#7 – In The Halls of Awaiting (2002)

I know it may be seen as sacrilege to place a band’s debut so far down the list, especially when they are as revolutionary as this, but if anything I believe that it just establishes just how high the bar was set and then surpassed by in future. In The Halls of Awaiting is one of the strongest first records in metal music history and perfectly conveys the poetic melancholy in the songwriting, combined with a strong use of acoustic/folk guitar and darkly beautiful medleys throughout.

It is no more evident than in songs such as The Elder and Deeper Shades of Green that this was a band doing something completely unheard of at the time. In The Halls of Awaiting truly does have this timeless quality that transcends orthodox trends and trappings that other bands in the genre would have fallen into. Despite being released in the early 2000s, this record could have came out in the early 1990s or the late 2010s and still retain its own prevalence in a league of its own. There is no conforming to trends, there is no overblown production or heavy use of electronic elements. It is a straightforward folk-inspired melodic death album through and through that cemented the band as something truly special.

one for sorrow

#6 – One For Sorrow (2011)

Always one for sorrow, never one for love. One For Sorrow serves as perhaps their first major exposure to the mainstream market, as well as acting as a swansong for longtime guitarist and songwriter Ville Vänni, who left the band after the release of the record for personal reasons pertaining to his career as a general surgeon and family matters.

This is where ranking their records starts to become an incredibly difficult task and there really is nothing in it as to why one album is any higher or lower than another. One For Sorrow is a masterclass in powerful and emotionally charged melodic death metal that has an excellent sense of pace and flow for the entirety of the runtime. Every track here feels deliberately placed and not a second is wasted from beginning to end. Standout tracks from the album are: Unsung, Regain The Fire and Lay The Ghost to Rest.

shadows of

#5 – Shadows of the Dying Sun (2014)

This record was my first exposure to the band and I am certain many others as songs such as the now iconic While We Sleep and Ephemeral dominated playlists and fronted many press websites back in 2014. This album is a little more accessible than some of the others on this list and was the first time that the band had utilised ballads and clean vocals more heavily as a tool in their songwriting arsenal, mostly found on slower tracks such as: The Promethean Song and The River.

The album still retained the aggression and bite of prior records with tracks like Black Heart Rebellion and The Primeval Dark, but the lighter elements mixed in made it stand out amongst the rest of their discography. It may be softer in places but it is no less emotionally resonant.

Shadows of the Dying Sun is not only one of my favourite albums ever released but has also gotten me through a lot of dark times with its morose yet inspiring and uplifting lyrics. It was also around this time that I saw Insomnium for the first time, with a setlist that made up large in part with killer tracks executed beautifully from this release.

insomnium-heart-like-a-grave

#4 – Heart Like a Grave (2019)

To some this album seemed like a grand return to form for a band that had become very comfortable in releasing consistent but safe albums. To the less cynical (myself included), Heart Like a Grave is a prodigious demonstration that shows exactly why the band have such the stellar reputation that they do.

With that said, Heart Like a Grave does innovate in a number of crucial ways that sets the record apart. The most noteworthy addition to the core lineup, newcomer Jani Liimatainen, injected new vibrance and brightness to the songwriting resulting in tracks like Valediction that borrowed in small part from Cain’s Offering with the focus on euro metal clean singing throughout most of the song from himself and Ville Friman. It is a really cool touch that adds a little colour to a very dark record.

Pale Mourning Star was a gorgeous callback to the band’s In Halls of Awaiting sound, with its extended runtime, heavy use of acoustic guitars and swelling piano accompaniment paired with perhaps Niilo’s greatest vocal delivery on the album, and even a little black metal flare too.

This album does not reinvent the wheel but it has enough new ideas and benefits from some new blood to do something different enough to make those who may have lost interest in the band’s last few albums, to pay strict attention once more.

Winters gate

#3 – Winter’s Gate (2016)

What does a band do when faced with the idea that they may be getting too comfortable in their own sound? Well, in this case they release one long fourty-minute epic of a song. Winter’s Gate is a transcendental journey of epic proportions that takes the listener through a myriad of rich frozen landscapes and refuses to ever lessen its grip.

This entry into the band’s discography also demonstrated their first foray into implementing black metal staples into their core sound and it made for an unexpected but sharply effective addition that moulds Winter’s Gate into something that blends the barriers between genres in the best way possible. Thick tremolo riffs and backing choir vocals permeate this album and accent the quitier portions along with the always stunning guitar lead that screams at just the right times.

Winter’s Gate may have been a risk but it was an incredibly bold move on the band’s part and smashed any doubt to pieces that this was a band that could never stagger or slow down.

weeping world

#2 – Above The Weeping World (2006)

Without question this is an album that is utterly flawless in almost every single respect. It is perhaps too the band’s heaviest record yet with Niilo’s growl a little deeper and the dual guitar riffing leaning a little harder into that death metal grove just enough to not betray their folk melodic influence.

It is difficult to talk about the sum of its parts when you have an album that is so consistently strong and carries itself so effectively and effortlessly as this one does. One listen of Drawn To Black, The Killjoy or Change of Heart is all you need for this record to infect your ear and stay with you for potentially the rest of your life. It really is that quintessential.

Day it all

#1 – Since The Day It All Came Down (2004)

This album is immaculate. Insomnium’s sophomore record took all of their unique and interesting concepts and dialled them up to 11 with steadfast conviction. Take one listen to any of the exceptional tracks and it is easy to see exactly why this, out of them all, tops my list as the greatest Insomnium album yet.

Be it the wistful and winding Daughter of the Moon, the immense crushing power of Death Walked The Earth or the sheer striking sadness of Closing Words, Since The Day It All Came Down is one of the finest metal records ever put to tape. Try as I might I feel that I lack the words to do this record justice, the album truly does speak for itself as a high point of exactly why we love this genre of music in the first place.

Ultimately you could listen to any of these albums and rank them completely differently and it would be entirely valid, they are all special and mean different things to different people. It was incredibly close to call but we made it. I look forward to many more years of their reign as the undisputed kings of melodic death metal.

Children of Bodom – Hexed Review

A blessing or a travesty? Under Bodom’s spell for their tenth album.


The last decade or so of Bodom albums have certainly been somewhat of a rollercoaster in terms of quality. For albums such as 2013’s return to form, Halo of Blood, there was the middling follow up release I Worship Chaos. Indeed it seems that with Hexed, the band takes a stripped back approach and it largely pays off for the most part.

The biggest addition to the album is the return of the long dormant neo-classical style which flavoured early records such as Hatecrew Deathroll and Follow the Reaper especially. Hexed is full of old school flare and doesn’t disappoint on the guitar side of things.

The singles prior to release gave us a strong idea of what to expect going into the full album with This Road and Under Grass and Clover leaving a lasting impression on me. I feel a similar way with how In Flames’ I, The Mask returned to old school roots too as I do here, It felt to me once I heard these two songs that their work prior to Blooddrunk was returning in full force and the album carries that momentum throughout.

In terms of the guitar work present, I believe that the addition of Daniel Freyberg works wonders to spark the creativity from Alexi Laiho and give us those dual aspects in the richness of the rhythm and scope that we have been missing from Bodom since 2013’s Halo of Blood with long time guitarist Roope Latvala absence.

What we have here is a catchy album with a tonne of riffs and melodies to spare backed beautifully by a healthy dose of old school synth work reminiscent of their Follow the Reaper and Are You Dead Yet? which work astoundingly well.

Lyrically there really isn’t anything to hold onto here. You won’t find any deep meaningful insight or anything of note to ponder on once you have finished spinning the record for the first or second time, not that it’s ever been Bodom’s strong point. On that subject, Laiho’s vocals remain unchanged from how they have always sounded and simply put, you either love his shrill bark or you hate it. I’m in the former category, I enjoy his gruff power metal shriek, not quite a growl or a scream but it once again, as always, is entirely serviceable and he sounds good enough here.

The choruses are once again hit and miss as far as Bodom goes, its a modern trapping that the band cannot escape, whilst a lot of the hooks are indeed infectious ear worms, that isn’t always for the best as the lacking/juvenile lyrical content quality on offer here leaves a lot to be desired. I’ll admit, I have listened to the record a couple times and I have a decent feel for it despite every song not having the staying power as their older material.

Fans of Bodom’s earlier releases, I believe shall be very happy with the band’s latest offering. You may not find depth but what you will find however is a fun record that doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is laden with technical, melodic and inspired guitar work which culminate in what I believe to be their best album since 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?.

In Flames Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

In Flames are a Swedish metal band from Gothenburg who, along with bands such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, helped to pioneer what is now known as Melodic Death Metal, and more specifically, the Gothenburg scene. In Flames was initially formed by Jesper Stromblad in 1990, in hopes to combine the melodic elements heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden with the crushing brutality of death metal such as Entombed and Dismember.

Now almost three decades on, featuring a multitude of line-up changes, stylistic evolution and the departure of Stromblad in 2010, the band is a much different beast to what it was when first created.

To usher in the release of album thirteen I, The Mask in March and without any more delay or introduction, here are what I believe to be the best and worst of In Flames.

#13 – Battles (2016)

This is an album I am quite torn on as I do genuinely enjoy songs from the record, in particular the bonus tracks/ lesser known songs Greatest Greed and Us Against The World. Battles suffered from muted production, unfortunate overuse of a child choir (heard on songs The End and The Truth mainly whilst being peppered in as sampling on other songs) and was seemingly trying to appeal to a younger demographic as a result. That said, there are good riffs there, and when Anders does decide to growl his voice can still make even the most hardened man tremble and shudder. It is a shame that this was the record to make people almost want to entirely write off the band, it did not help that they made the mistake of touring alongside Five Finger Death Punch and Of Mice and Men during the album cycle. An album with standout moments as heard on Wallflower, The End, Through My Eyes and the previous songs mentioned, Battles was a learning experience which should be amended with I, The Mask coming out later this year. If the three singles are anything to go by, (This is Our) House withstanding, then Battles should be moved on from in stride in search of something stronger.

battles

#12 – Siren Charms (2014)

I genuinely have a large tattoo of the cover to this album on my shoulder, I do have a soft spot for it as an alternative metal/rock album but with that said, Siren Charms leaves a lot to be desired unless you know what you are in for. It took literal years for this release to grow on me as it has; the cold and slow approach to the brooding dark synth, interlaced melancholic guitar riffs and lead performances make this album a definite standout in the band’s storied discography. The biggest pill to swallow is that it’s a Sony produced disk, the only one of it’s kind to the band’s name and understandably dials back on the aggression and more heavy elements to their sound in favour of something a lot more accessible. It’s a rock album at heart that occasionally features the odd chug-a-long riffing pattern or growl here and there, but it beats to a different drum than anything else. An extremely divisive yet I believe underrated album in the field of rock, if it was any other band who made this and not In Flames then who knows? Maybe people would have given it a pass or even loved it.

Siren Charms

#11 – I, The Mask (2019)

I have written a lengthy review for this record on this very site, take a look at our reviews tab in the top bar menu for more, however I will quickly summarise the record’s place here on the list in some new and exciting words.

I, The Mask starts off incredibly strongly. The first five songs are absolutely incredible and gave off the vibe on first listen that this would be the album to bridge the gap between the lost 2000s melodeath/melodic metalcore sound and their contemporary sound. However, the record starts to lose momentum with the frankly awful track (This is Our) House. Whenever I listen to the album I just cannot bring myself to hear that song all the way, it is the only In Flames song out of their entire discography that I skip.

The last half of the album features a lot of clean vocals and songs that are more bright and pop orientated with the exception of Burn which almost gets things back on track. Again, if the whole album had the aggression and the fire of songs like:I Am Above, Voices, Call My Name and the title track then I would be singing a different tune. I am not disappointed or let down but I feel that it would have only taken that little bit more to make this album stand out as the best of the modern era. As it stands I, The Mask, whilst coming so close, misses that mark ever so slightly.

Ithe mask

#10 – Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)

I also have a massive tattoo of the album cover, this time on my right forearm. Perhaps the most challenging of all albums for the band to create, Fading was the first release they released after the departure of creator, guitarist and spearhead Jesper Stromblad. His influence is definitely missed in places, however I think that all considered, they did an incredible job pulling everything around despite the jarring omission of Stromblad’s absence. Songs such as Dead Ships Dwell, Deliver Us, Darker Times, Fear is the Weakness and especially A New Dawn, helped to cement a new identity for a band without direction. Dark, melancholic, dreary and dripping in cold, damp atmosphere, whilst it may be a little cleaner and lighter in places, I believe the brevity only serves to highlight the darkness.

soaps

#9 – Reroute to Remain (2002)

It was no easy feat following up 2000’s landmark album Clayman (more on that release later) however, In Flames decided to take a new route when it came to their sixth album. Remain features a much heavier use of synths, more modern guitar production as well as riffs that blend through different genres. Anders’ clean vocals never sounded better and his fried screams are still as powerful as ever, though overall, despite many solid songs, this album felt like a transitional one ultimately bridging the gap between what would eventually be known as the two major distinct eras for the band.

reroute

#8 – Come Clarity (2006)

This was my first exposure to the band like many people, with the pulse pounding track Take This Life. Let it be known that I love this album and believe that the highs found here; title track, Crawl Through Knives, Leeches and the duet Dead End, far bolster this album to a new level among their mid era releases. The production is razor sharp, it’s very catchy, very heavy and blends together their older melodic death metal sound with the modern metal / metalcore approach following Reroute to Remain. The reason it doesn’t rank higher on my list is despite many of the songs being incredible, there are a couple songs which whilst not bad, seem like filler.

Come

#7 – A Sense of Purpose (2008)

The last album to feature Jesper Stromblad spearheading guitar duties and its safe to say that he left the band out with a bang. Whilst this record can be seen as somewhat divided by fans and the metal community, I can’t help but love every single track to be found here. This was the first In Flames album that I truly well in love with and for great reason, namely huge sweeping catchy choruses and amazing guitar riffs. Even after hundreds of times of hearing songs like; Alias, Delights and Angers, Move Through Me and the emotional gut-punch of The Chosen Pessimist, they never grow old on me. There’s something about the whole motif of The Owl Boy, what the album itself represents and the melancholic story told throughout that takes hold and never lets go. It might not be as raw or angry as Come Clarity but as I listen to both back to back, this album stays more in my mind.

sense

#6 – Soundtrack To Your Escape (2004)

Without a doubt In Flames’ darkest album, Soundtrack can be overwhelming and draining at times but is what I believe to be the band’s most underrated album. The synths return from Reroute but with a much darker edge, the guitars once again blend in that chugging heavy style with a nu-metal/metalcore riff style. It’s a very modern album that plays to the strengths of the band being ushered through into the new millennium. Everything that made the band what they were is here in spades, the huge choruses, the aggressive vocal performances and the riffs that get stuck in your head. For one, It’s one of their best produced albums too, everything is balanced beautifully and the drums especially never sounded as good or since. I don’t believe this release to be for everyone, but if you can look passed nu-metal influences of the time, there’s something very special here.

sound

#5 – Lunar Strain (1993)

The first album released by a young band finding their footing in the scene, Lunar Strain is a monumental landmark in Swedish death metal. The story behind the album itself is very interesting, the band essentially made a demo then lied they had a full release out to get on a label, and this shows. For the album itself; there’s some of the most iconic songs of the time; Clad in Shadows, Upon an Oaken Throne, Starforsaken and especially Behind Space. For as much as I adore this album I feel like ranking it any higher just isn’t fair. This was a completely different lineup, instead of Anders on vocals we had Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne and Glenn Ljungström taking on dueling guitar duties alongside Jesper Stromblad.

lunar

#4 – Whoracle (1997)

Yet another album cover that I have tattooed on my arm, What felt like the perfect successor to 1995’s The Jester Race, Whoracle continues down the bold path and etches in more lines into the quintessential blueprint of melodic death metal. The riffs on offer here are just as catchy and heavy as the predecessor, and the guitar work is even more complex as it became the centerpiece and main focus on the album. Whoracle bleeds confidence where Jester Race felt like they had something to prove. This release shows a band pour everything they have into crafting music they love, whilst almost single-handedly writing the playbook on the genre themselves. It’s everything that you could want from melodic death metal and its executed masterfully, though once again like on Come Clarity, there are filler songs that knock the experience a little, namely; Morphing Into Primal and Worlds Within the Margin. A small setback like that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a near flawless record worthy of acclaim.

whoracle

#3 – The Jester Race (1995)

This album is perfect. From this point on the rankings genuinely become entirely up to a small preference in themes and approach. The Jester Race has some of the greatest riffs ever heard in heavy metal, featuring the incredible vocal debut of Anders Friden delivering some of the best growls of his career. Every song is phenomenal and there isn’t a moment wasted on what is a tightly focused and passionate release. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, The Jester Race is an outstanding display of the best riffs that Swedish death metal has to offer; Lord Hypnos, Dead Eternity, title track, Artifacts of the Black Rain, Moonshield etc. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said but hundreds if not thousands of people over the last twenty-five years. Listen to it.

jester

#2 – Clayman

Again let me reinstate that the last half of this list ranking are entirely equal in my mind and this album comes down to preference. Clayman once again shows off amazing riffs, incredible vocals and is something you could once again spin cover-to-cover endlessly. Where I think Clayman wins out ever so slightly is in the choruses, Clayman is just that little bit more catchy and features songs and moments that in my mind are a little more memorable. Everything from the opening seconds of Bullet Ride, perfectly setting the scene for the album to come, to the ending few chords of Another Day in Quicksand and everything in between. Not to mention the iconic Only For The Weak and title track or the earworm of Pinball Map. I could talk about this album for hours, you can’t beat this record, well almost.

clay

#1 – Colony

This is the gold standard not only for melodic death metal but metal music as a whole. Colony refines and then redefines what melodeath is and what can be expected from the genre. Every song is a powerhouse and it’s a testament to what can be achieved when building on the framework created by a band which invented its own sound. All that was good about The Jester Race, the developed guitar work and confidence of Whoracle too came to define the perfect album. In their own ways, they are all unstoppable titans of their field though. If Jester Race represents the end of an age then Colony is the resurrection.

colony

With Anders recently saying in a live show, ‘If you like Colony, you’ll love I, The Mask’ then hopes are high for what In Flames’ newest album has in store. Whilst not everything has been perfect, some albums being a lot better than others, It’s all a journey, and sometimes there are risks that need to be taken to find yourself again throughout the times. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. Let’s see what the band has to deliver for us in a few mere weeks.

Aleksha with In Flames