In Flames - Lunar Strain/Subterranean (Reissue) - 2005 - Candlelight Records
And so it begins. Quite possibly two of the most important releases in metal history are upon us again, finally reaching these US shores a decade later. Sweden's greatest export, In Flames, stacked along side Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates as one of the founders of the melodic death movement are reintroduced to fans stateside. Youth today can experience this sound through the likes of Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, and Children Of Bodom, but take note that everything had a beginning. It all started here, within these walls, made famous world-wide through hard work, extensive touring, and absolutely phenomenal talent.
Throughout the 90s fans of the underground were singing the praises of In Flames. With the band finally making waves with their '97 release "The Jester Race", fans started hunting down the two lost treasures, those being the '94 debut of the group, "Lunar Strain" and the '95 EP "Subterranean". At import prices ranging between $25-$40, few fans including myself could afford these original gems. NOW, Candlelight Records has teamed up with Regain Records to bring these absolute masterpieces to the domestic market, dressed up, remastered, and given a new life via demos and unreleased tracks.
This is certainly something special, something both rewarding and pleasing to the band's fan base. Really this couldn't come at a better time, with the band at this point in their career a little confused about the direction of their sound. Confusing me and just about everyone else along the way, I lost track of the group after the rather disappointing 2002 record "Reroute To Remain". But alas, we now have these monumental recordings to please our senses, opening our ears to the band's prime so to speak, and possibly breathing new life into the band's existence by revisiting these golden years.
First up is "Lunar Strain", originally released by Wrong Again Music in Europe. In Flames debut featured one Mikael Stanne on lead vocals, who later moved on to Dark Tranquillity, a band that for some reason never quite got the same headspeed as In Flames. Nevertheless Stanne's vocal display is just awe inspiring here, injecting a healthy, cold blast to this rugged, yet often melodic opus. At this point in the band's career a lot of lineup changes were taking place, with this recording only featuring one In Flames alumni, that being Jesper Stromblad. Along with the full release, Candlelight has decided to throw in some rare demos as well including an unreleased acoustic piece. Along with the added quantity of songs comes a thick, more polished sound, one that still keeps that raw intensity that made the album so good to begin with.
Next is "Subterranean", again released originally in Europe through Wrong Again Music (often referred to as WAR). This short EP is probably my favorite recording from the group, with amazing melodic journeys like "Everdying" and "Biosphere". Strangers to the band's early recordings will find a bit of a surprise here, as Stanne left to make way for vocalist Henke Forss. Forss hasn't done anything else to my knowledge but you will find his ear rattling screams on this release, the last before Anders Friden finally took the helm. Of course this one gets remastered as well, and we get a few treasures thrown in as well. Unreleased demos featuring vocalist Jocke Gothberg are here, including "Dead Eternity" and "The Inborn Lifeless" (which later became "Dead God In Me") are here as well as a couple of rare covers, "Murders In The Rue Morgue" (Iron Maiden) and "Eye Of The Beholder" (Metallica).
Cheers to Candlelight and Regain for teaming up to bring us these solid and innovative albums. With so many bands playing this style I think it is important to explain the genre's history. In Flames helped solidify the things you are seeing on MTV and Ozzfest. Historically speaking this early work from the band is just so important. It helps to explain where it all started from, how we came to this bridge, and really what waits on the other side.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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