|Review: In Flames - The Jester Race|
|The Jester Race|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 1996
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Review online: January 21, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
for:The Jester Race
It's hard to think of these days, but there was actually a time when In Flames were well regarded in the Metal scene. After all, they are often credited with At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity with pioneering Melodic Death Metal and this album is held as a classic in the genre. Of course, they would turn to pissing alt-rock swill all over their sound, which had a big part in poisoning Melodeath so thoroughly that even today people tend to roll their eyes at any new band in the genre.
I bring the latter point up because I've seen it used as a reason to write off the band's early material, which I think is a bit unfair. Back in their prime (i.e., this album), they had a fairly sharp melodic sensibility and had the good sense to base their songs around it. This is most evident in songs like the moody, hypnotic opener "Moonshield", the propulsive "Lord Hypno" and the awesome "December Flower". The problem is that they lean so hard on the melodies that there isn't much else to talk about in their music, which leads to even their best melodic work blending together with the rest of it. It doesn't help that the last two tracks suck pretty hard, with "Wayfaerer" seeing them operate under the impression they're Styx for some reason and "Dead God in Me" being like the other songs, but with annoyingly bouncy rhythms and no good melodies. The version of the album I have comes with the Black-Ash Inheritance EP, which happens to contain my favorite song of theirs, "Goliaths Disarm their Davids". Unfortunately, the rest of the track list on it can be summed up as "Shit Rewrite of Moonshield", "Pointless Acoustic Diddling", and "Live Track of Song No One Cares About".
In Flames would make a few decent efforts before becoming one of the most loathed acts in the underground, but they aren't much better than this, and this isn't even all that great. As much as I like the good material on this album, I can't really tell you it's aged perfectly or that it hasn't been surpassed, because neither of those statements is true. As a Melodic Death Metal album, it's above average but little else, as an established classic it's kind of underwhelming.
2008 reissue on Nuclear Blast Records reviewed. 14 tracks, duration 54:42.
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