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3.60 | 36 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1996


1. Moonshield (5:03)
2. The Jester's Dance (2:09)
3. Artifacts of the Black Rain (3:17)
4. Graveland (2:48)
5. Lord Hypnos (4:03)
6. Dead Eternity (5:03)
7. The Jester Race (4:53)
8. December Flower (4:11)
9. Wayfaerer (4:42)
10. Dead God in Me (4:15)

Total Time: 40:27


- Anders Fridén / Vocals
- Glenn Ljungström / Guitar
- Jesper Strömblad / Guitar
- Johan Larsson / Bass
- Björn Gelotte / Drums, Guitar

About this release

Nuclear Blast Records, February 20th, 1996

Original release licensed to Nuclear Blast Records by Wrong Again Records.
The band was under contract to WAR, but WAR never released their own edition of this album - early editions bore both labels' logos and stated "Licensed from Wrong Again Records".

Japan bonus tracks are demos of "Dead Eternity" (5:02) & "The Inborn Lifeless" (3:22).
"The Inborn Lifeless" is an early version of "Dead God in Me".
Original Japanese release features different artwork.

Reissued in 2002 with the "Black Ash Inheritance" EP added (artwork).

Quotation in "Lord Hypnos" taken from William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood".

Recorded and mixed at Studio Fredman in November 1995.
Co-produced by In Flames.

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, UMUR, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"The Jester Race" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish melodic death metal act In Flames. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in February 1996 (Licensed from Wrong Again Records, who In Flames were contractually obligated to). There were quite a few lineup changes between the band´s debut full-length studio album "Lunar Strain (1994)" and the "Subterranean (1995)" EP, and there have been quite a few changes again on "The Jester Race". In Flames finally settled with Anders Fridén as their permanent lead vocalist. Fridén had worked with artists like Septic Broiler, Ceremonial Oath, and Dark Tranquillity before joining In Flames. The band didn´t have a permanent drummer on the previous releases either, but that was fixed here too as Björn Gelotte joined the lineup. The usual suspects are Glenn Ljungström (guitars), Jesper Strömblad (guitars), and Johan Larsson (bass).

Stylistically the music on "The Jester Race" continues the melodic death metal style with ethnic Scandinavian folk leanings which the band also played on the two previous releases. The band´s sound is a bit more developed here and the songwriting slightly more memorable too, but you´ll find few surprises on the album if you´re already familiar with "Lunar Strain (1994)" and "Subterranean (1995)". In Flames were on to something special with those releases though, so there are probably very few (if any) complaints about the musical direction on "The Jester Race". Anders Fridén continues the trend of high pitched screaming/growling vocalists, and you´ll be exposed to fast-paced and very melodic harmony guitar riffs and solos, fast- and mid-paced heavy beats, and acoustic sections too. The folk influence is mostly heard in the acoustic parts, but many of the epic guitar themes also reek traditional Scandinavian folk melodies.

"The Jester Race" is a consistent release both in terms of the musical style and in regards to the quality of the compositions. From the opening notes of "Moonshield" to the closing notes of "Dead God in Me", the 10 track, 40:27 minutes long album features high quality melodic death metal played by skilled musicians. The album is well produced too, featuring a powerful and raw sound production, which suits the material well. Upon conclusion there´s been a positive development of sound since "Subterranean (1995)", and paired with a better sounding production, and a band who have honed their playing skills too, "The Jester Race" is a high quality sophomore studio album by In Flames. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
This melodic death metal album from In Flames is widely respected, but personally I can't get into it. I can tell it's a competently recorded and performed piece, and the combination of death metal aesthetic and Iron Maiden riffing is certainly interesting, but taken as a whole the thing just ends up leaving me cold. I guess for me this is an album that falls between the cracks - too abrasive and harsh to work as my melodic metal fix, but not brutal enough to really satisfy my death metal urge. Still, I'm sure those who are particularly into this sort of mixture will find a lot to like about this.
The Angry Scotsman
One of the crown jewels of melodic death metal.

This album is regarded as one of it's seminal works, and with good reason. It cemented the classic In Flames sound for years to come and is the definition of melodic death metal.

Built around its triple guitar act, (with harmonized lead guitars over a rhythm guitar), simple yet effective drumming, raspy growls, and overall melodic songwriting writing, while maintaining death metal heaviness and often it's intensity. The riffing is fast paced but more melodic and "groovy" than technical and mindblowing, owing more to Iron Maiden than Death.

The solos are almost entirely melodic, opposed to shred, and the songs are quite different from your standard death metal. The production is airtight, allowing you to fully hear the intricate guitar work, and there is quite a lot of acoustic guitar, and even some sections that sound absolutely happy! The songs are obviously much more varied, and while the album never feels very "brutal" it can be quite intense. Drumming is fairly straightforward but at least gets the job done. Vocals are raspy screams though there's a good bit of dramatic talking (nu metal style?) Note: This album has a new vocalist, Anders Fridén from fellow melodeath founder Dark Tranquility. In Flames' first album had more a growling vocal style, while this one uses a more screaming one. They are decent, but can be pretty difficult at times.

The album starts off strong with the classic "Moonshield". Play this song to anyone who knows modern In Flames and they will probably refuse to believe it at first. Awesome song, best on the album.

The disbelief will really kick in with "The Jester's Dance" an instrumental song that is borderline beautiful.

"Artifacts of the Black Rain" is one of the better songs on the album, and a bit more intense. This continues with "Graveland" which is a good bit more intense. Still maintains melodicism of course.

"Lord Hypnos" is an interesting one. Starts off awesome, and continues to be so, but the second half is a bit of a curveball.

"Dead Eternity" and "The Jester Race" are both good songs. The latter being a bit better, the former a tad uninteresting at times.

"December Flower" is the most intense song on the album, and a very good one. Probably my second favorite on the album.

"Wayfaerer" is another instrumental and this one will really test the limits of a death metal head.

"Dead God in Me" ends the album on a good note. Not the best song, but one that grew on me. Has some movement, and a perfect example of melodic songwriting mixed in with very heavy guitar, and intensity peppered with melodicism.

Very good album. At times I lose touch with the songs and get tempted to hit next, but luckily they aren't too long. There is no doubt the straight up death metal fan may struggle to enjoy this, and maybe some regular metal heads. These songs are certainly a bit out there for the style. The production is good, maybe too good, since sometimes the album gives me a strange vibe. The vocals are fine but I am not a real big fan of them, definitely can be a but rough at times. Regardless, a classic and influential album, and a good one at that.

Three and a Half Stars

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