“My momma always said life was like a new In Flames album. You never know what you’re going to get”. Okay, so opening with a paraphrased Forrest Gump quote might seem a little harsh but, considering the Swedish melodeath act’s somewhat less than consistent form since the early 2000s, not entirely without cause. Without a single original left member to their name and being unable to keep a steady line-up since 2008, it’s not entirely surprising to find In Flames has gone from the brink of global domination to struggling to keep themselves near the top of the pile.
Ghost Cult’s crew was lucky to catch up with Anders Friden of In Flames at their label, Eleven Seven Music Group in New York City to discuss their new album, I, The Mask. We chatted about the making of the album, changes of their music over time, his opinion on fan criticism, production, social media, climate change, touring, beer, their second annual curated festival, Borgholm Brinner! Thanks to Anders for hanging out. Interview by Keefy and photos and videography by Omar Cordy of OJC Photography.Continue reading →
In Flames is a band, much like most of the daring few whoever made ground-breaking original art, that seems to be judged forever for their earliest success. While it’s true that that have departed from their original pioneering “Gottenburg sound” of melodic death metal, they are certainly never dull and always capable of solid releases with memorable songs. The chorus of angry, arms-crossed dudes that say “I don’t listen to those guys anymore” will always get drowned out by the die-hards, many whom the band picked up as they exploded in popularity. Once you get past the old narrative of the band that escaped beyond what was narrow sub-genre with four good bands, you can appreciate their entire career arc, which is still evolving on their new album, I, The Mask (Eleven Seven Music Group). Continue reading →
Reaching 25 years of creating Swedish metal is milestone forIn Flames, as they have made their mark within the heavy music scene. Siren Charms is the band’s eleventh full length album and they continue to reach new fans on every tour stop.
Niklas Engelin has seen the progression of In Flames throughout his many stints in the band. Originally joining in 1997, he originally replaced guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom (now in The Resistance) and later filled in for founding guitarist Jesper Stromblad over the years. He finally rejoined as a full member in 2009 during the Come Clarity touring cycle, replacing Stromblad once again.
Niklas Engelin of In Flames. Photo By Kaley Nelson
He shares his observations on the growth of the band over the years, from the musical shifts from their trademark guitar harmonious sound with death metal growls to a more synth driven, alt-metal oriented sound.
“I think we as musicians, doesn’t matter if it’s In Flames, Opeth or RUN DMC back in the day, I think consciously write music in your mind. Of course I practice my guitar. I have to. I really enjoy practicing, but I feel I have my way of playing, my kind of sound and I know how to write a song. So it’s more I digest everything.”
“As for today, I went for a walk for three hours to embrace everything. It should be interesting. I get home from this tour and then I have six weeks off. I will write some new stuff. Let’s see what’s happening after all of the travelling. I think we’re writing consciously in your mind all the time,” he said.
Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames. Photo by Hillarie Jason.
While he did not participate on the recording of 2010’s Sounds of a Playground Fading, he took a supporting role on Siren Charms.
“Bjorn (Gelotte, guitars) did the writing. I was there for the structure of the songs. My way of playing the guitar shined through a little bit. But it’s mainly Bjorn and Anders [Friden] who writes all the stuff.”
Being that Engelin has unofficially held the role of In Flames’ version of “The Sixth Beatle,” he has held a front row view of the ups and downs of the growing pains behind the band.
“I always feel comfortable. I quit and started Gardenian back in the day (in 1996). Me and Anders did the Passenger album (in 2003). They called me in ’06 to fill in. From then on, I’ve been there when Jesper was falling off the wagon. So I kind of saved a lot of tours.”
Niklas Engelin and Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames. Photo By Kaley Nelson
Engelin has proven that he is the perfect fit for In Flames a role player. He shares how much of a bond he has with the members and it goes back a ways prior to becoming members of the band.
“I know these guys. I’ve known Anders since ’88. Me and Bjorn grew up in the same suburbs. Me and Jesper went to the same high school together. For me it’s natural. I know everything. I know exactly things like ‘he’s going to do it like that.’ It doesn’t differ back too much. So it’s easy for me to get into. The mentality of the band is easy to get into.”
Anders Friden and Bjorn Gelotte of In Flames. Photo By Kaley Nelson
Lastly, being that Siren Charms is their eleventh album and having a wealth of songs to choose from for a set list, In Flames has the undaunting task of piecing together songs that will somewhat please the crowd.
As each record passes by, it only get tougher but Engelin has an interesting perspective on this much debated topic.
“That’s tough. There’s always going to be those people in the audience ‘hey “Upon an Oaken Throne’ or ‘Episode 666.’ Great songs – I’d gladly play them, of course, but when are we playing those songs? People are standing like birds.”
“I saw a really cool gig by ZZ Top. At first the camera zoomed into the band. It was in a huge arena. Anyways, ‘next song what do you want to hear?’ ‘I want to hear (name of a song)’ – can we do it?’ ‘Of course we can do it.’ Then they played it, into the next song. The crowd contributes to the songs. It was really, really cool. That would be something. But then we would have to rehearse for ages! Then it would make sense.”
In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and guitarist Bjorn Gelotte, and childhood friend, Swedish journalist Mattias Lindeblad have penned a book titled Restaurant 2112 – A Tale Of Meat And Metal, about their Restaurant 2112 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The forward was written by Swedish actor Peter Stormare.
The restaurant opened in the spring of 2011 on Magasinsgatan 5 in their hometown, and quickly gaining a reputation for prize-winning burgers and a warm, welcoming ambience. The reader also gets a unique sneak peak into the fascinating, break neck-speed and sometimes crazy life style of a touring heavy metal band, as well as a number of favorite recipes from the Restaurant 2112 menu, and meeting a number of celebrities likely to surface there, including Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity), Matt Heafy (Trivium), and Oscar Dronjak (Hammerfall).
In Flames, minus the rhythm section, had a very intimate listening party for their new album Siren Charms (RED/Sony Music Germany), which took place in Manhattan NYC at The Bowery Electric, just across the street from where CBGB’s once stood. The evening started off with a few spins of their new album. After an hour so of mingling and a lot of free drinks, singer Anders Friden, along with guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin took to the stage. In between drinks and clearly nervous laughter, Anders commented about them never before doing something like this. All awkwardness aside, playing an acoustic set seems like the next logical step in the ever evolving world of In Flames.
Supported by only an ambient backing track, they started what turned into a two-song mini set with ‘Dead Eyes’ from Siren Charms. Anders sounded possibly even more powerful on the chorus on this rendition of the tune. They continued the show with the lead single off the new album, ‘Through Oblivion’. It sounds a lot more eerie this way and I’m having a tough time not hearing it this way again. These songs fit extremely well within the acoustic realm, the right songs for the right occasion. It was very short and pretty freaking sweet. Perhaps they will do it again…