IN FLAMES — Clayman

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IN FLAMES - Clayman cover
3.82 | 28 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2000

Tracklist

1. Bullet Ride (4:41)
2. Pinball Map (4:10)
3. Only for the Weak (4:59)
4. ...as the Future Repeats Today (3:29)
5. Square Nothing (3:59)
6. Clayman (3:29)
7. Satellites and Astronauts (5:02)
8. Brush the Dust Away (3:16)
9. Swim (3:16)
10. Suburban Me (3:38)
11. Another Day in Quicksand (3:56)

Total Time: 44:00

Line-up/Musicians

- Anders Fridén / vocals
- Jesper Strömblad / guitar
- Björn Gelotte / guitar
- Peter Iwers / bass
- Daniel Svensson / drums

About this release

Nuclear Blast, July 25, 2000.

Thanks to Unitron for the updates

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Diogenes
When you talk about In Flames, people are pretty divided. Any band that makes such a sudden and drastic change in sound (to one extremely popular at the time…just sayin’) will undoubtedly have a line drawn in its discography as a point where the band stopped banging heads and started causing seizures. For our old friends In Flames, that album is Clayman: the last hurrah of their famous Gothenburg style of melodic death metal, and the final set of good tunes the band put out.

Clayman represents a few points for In Flames other than the obvious “last good one”. Namely, it is the album where the band reached its peak in both songwriting and overall energy. While previous records such as Colony and The Jester Race may get more overall fanfare just because, I will take it to my grave that this is the most fun In Flames album to listen to. The reason for this is twofold: the guitar harmonies of Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte are nothing short of spectacular, and they’re backed by a powerful production that makes them all the more memorable. “Swim” is the most upfront example of this, boasting an insanely catchy chorus riff, but the band proves apt with slower songs as well, with “Only For the Weak” being equally as inspiring even while sacrificing some speed. And the thing about the songs on here is, they get you PUMPED. I’m serious. “…As the Future Repeats Today,” “Clayman,” and “Swim” are three of my favorite tracks from any genre, solely because they’re executed with a combination of energy and confidence that makes me want to go out there and just start punching random people on the streets for no reason. Really!

Now, this is all dandy (until my inevitable arrest), as Clayman succeeds where many previous In Flames albums just don’t do it for me, but it still falls victim to the same thing that those others do: ANDERS FRIDEN. He’s just not a very good vocalist, but I’m not even talking about his screaming; it’s actually quite competent, if not a little heavy on the accent. No, what grinds my gears is the AWFUL, AWFUL attempts at clean vocals on this album. It’s not even singing, really, or at least what’s featured on the last couple of In Flames albums. It’s this… weird sort of mumbling that he does in several verses. As silly as it may sound, the Jonathan Davis comparisons are not overexaggerated in this case, because that’s exactly what Friden sounds like. That may work for Korn, but this is IN FLAMES, man! It’s apparent right away with “Bullet Ride”: the fist-pumping intro riff repeats a couple of times, getting you ready for a total ass-kicking, and then there it is, mumbling over a clean guitar lick. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a build-up sort of thing or what, but it takes away a solid chunk from the listening experience, especially because it’s so abundant. This is the main reason why this album isn’t getting at least 4 stars.

As my unfortunately pessimistic self seems to have rambled on about one negative just as long as the many positives, you may think Clayman is a tad schizophrenic. Not so! This is still a great album, if not a bit marred by stupid vocal techniques. It’s definitely worth a few spins, as it’s very accessible even for those who aren’t huge fans of the band, like myself. In Flames We Trust(ed)!

Stooge
The first two tracks, “Bullet Ride” and “Pinball Map”, are powerful tunes to kick off the album. “Bullet Ride” is highlighted by the rock-solid groove of a riff that plays at the intro and throughout the song, as well as it’s strong pre-chorus. “Pinball Map” has some damn strong drumming by Daniel Svensson and memorable solo section with twin guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Jesper Stromblad.

“Only For The Weak” has nice guitar harmonies during the verse of the song, but I find the chorus to be hard to listen to at times. It sounds a bit too dense with its use of synth, though it is catchy. “As The Future Repeats Today” is perhaps one of the heavier songs on the album with some forceful riffing. “Square Nothing” is a nice song which starts off with a minute or so of clean guitar and vocals, then picks up and becomes heavier for the rest of the song.

“Clayman”, without question, is an In Flames classic and a definite highlight on the album. A trademark In Flames guitar harmony strengthening the chorus, the whole band playing intensely, and Anders is sounding his best on the album. The powerful “Satellites and Astronauts” follows a clean verse (which has a beautiful melody) and heavy chorus pattern.

I’m not to big a fan of “Push The Dust Away” as a composition, but the execution is solid. The next track, “Swim”, has a great guitar lick during the verse. I wish I knew which guitarist is playing it. I don’t find “Suburban Me” to be very memorable, though Arch Enemy fans should be interested since Chris Amott adds a solo to this track, which I believe is the shining point of the track. “Another Day In Quicksand” ends the album on a strong note.

My main complaint with this album is in the vocal department. Though tolerable, there is a definite change in Anders Friden’s delivery that wasn’t there on past albums. My brother and I often joke that there are certain spots on the album (particularly on “As The Future Repeats Today” among other spots) where he sounds like Sylvester or the Tazmanian Devil from Warner Brothers cartoons. There’s also something about the production of this album that doesn’t sit well with me. It sounds as if almost everything is turned up too high in the mix, similar to Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” but not nearly as bad.

Despite my issues with certain aspects of the album, Clayman is still a great album. It’s one of the more popular In Flames albums, but it flaws and some below average tracks make it fall short of being an essential metal album.

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