A hint of that classic autumn smell floated in on a slight breeze last Monday evening as Michigan metalheads gathered in Pontiac to catch the Melodic Death Metal veterans, In Flames. The Crofoot is an entertainment complex located in Detroit’s most northern suburb and is considered a local treasure. Home to three acclaimed music venues, the historic building was an ideal spot to host Gothenburg’s finest and their openers. In Flames has recently re-signed with Nuclear Blast and is getting ready to release their fourteenth full-length album, Foregone (Nuclear Blast) in 2023. To celebrate their new chapter, these Swedish guys brought on their tour the blossoming bands Vended, Orbit Culture, and Fit For An Autopsy. Their excellent choices in support set them up for memorable evenings full of metal mayhem.
The night started off awkwardly since the venue got the open act’s start time wrong. Many missed Vended and this young buck act played to a half empty room. Yet, those who got there early passed along that the band was striking, theatrical, and ballsy. Orbit Culture came onto the stage next and were chomping at the bit to play. Their energy spilled unto the crowd and the room lit up as they opened their set with ‘North Star of Nija’, a bombarding, industrial number off their 2020 album Nija (Seek & Strike). Founder and frontman, Niklas Karlsson’s stance on stage demanded attention. His spirit, determination, and skill seized every onlooker. The vocals he conjured does not seem like they could come out of the same person. His seamless transitions from cleans to growls had jaws dropping. This fresh faced Scandinavian act bends genres and creates a roar of riffs that plunge into depths of pure intensity. Drummer Christopher Wallerstedt beat and caressed his set in a way that drove this quartet into even deeper levels of aggression. The severe song, ‘Carvings’ stung the senses with a riot of passion and extreme. Their dynamic combinations of Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore, Modern, and beyond makes them unrelatable to other acts. They experiment with highs and lows that catch you off guard. They bask in epic chaos one moment and then shift into a swell of synths that reveal a more sensitive side. It might have been the shortest thirty minutes in world history. Thankfully they reassured everyone that they would be seeing everyone again soon.
Guitarist Pat Sheridan came on before Fit For An Autopsy started their set and gave a heartfelt shout out to Trevor Strnad. The room ruptured with applause as we raised our glasses to the memory of The Black Dahlia Murder’s late vocalist. The band broke into their first number, ‘Oh What the Future Holds’, the strobe lights flickered, and the fans got lost in the powerfully profound Deathcore goodness. Frontman Joe Badolato grabbed the eager crowd’s attention by his fervent presence and his able vocals. Each member had a swagger that held confidence, proficiency, and intensity. The growth of this group was evident in how they were able to captivate with their fierce delivery full of purposeful indignation and forcefulness. Their riffs were fat ‘n juicy creating thunderous tones making their songs a savory meal of decadent heaviness. The bass drops and breakdowns shook the room. Joe effortlessly amped up the hungry attendees who clearly hung on to his every word as he commanded them to put their fists in the air and bang their heads. Each member mouthed along with the lyrics on fan favorites like ‘A Higher Level of Hate’ which revealed their care and honest delight in sharing their sound. These guys from New Jersey were all grins and chuckles with each other. There were even some slaps to the toosh shared and witnessing their antics made them feel approachable and loveable while still being intensely tough and bombastic. Their set ended too soon, and the crowd’s loud cheers conveyed their love of this act that is clearly growing in popularity.
The legendary Swedish Melodic Death Metal act exploded onto the stage next. A sweet nostalgia took over when this quintet broke into some of their classics like ‘Cloud Connected’, ‘Stand Ablaze’, and ‘Only for the Weak’. Leader Anders Fridén jumped in with his earnest, energetic vocals that ignited a frenzy of elation from the audience. His melodies danced along with the vivacious guitarwork coming from long time member Björn Gelotte and beefcake Chris Broderick. Each member played with a spirited fervor as they made their way through their diverse setlist. They hit each song with zazz and effectiveness. Their boisterous bellow of riff, cymbal, and voice ruptured and set fire to the heated crowd. Anders held his fans close with his warm, at ease banter and casual strut. There were laughs shared and high fives given as this talented group of guys jammed out. The jovial tone added to the memorizing harmonizing guitars and booming bass work. The band’s newer material was well received and revealed how they can still be aggressive and gripping in their sound. ‘Foregone Pt. 1’ is a combative tune that carries a weight of hostility and melody. It is refreshing to hear how these veterans, along with the new members, still deliver dynamic, punchy pieces. They have a purposeful groove that combines well with their finesse and fury. It was encouraging to see an act that has been around for such a long time still love what they do and still be exceptional at it.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RAGIN ROSIE