Review: In Flames ”Clayman” (reissue) [Nuclear Blast Records]

Review: In Flames ”Clayman” (reissue) [Nuclear Blast Records]

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Shitting On Your Legacy Like a Pro…

We, the former fans and fellow travelers, shouldn’t be surprised about In Flames records sucking. It’s not like we don’t know how awful this band has become, it’s not like we can’t see the vortex of horror coming from miles away.

But yet again, I find myself listening to this turd of a re-recording – two full decades after the last hooray! of the band reviewed here. Though this time, unlike in previous years of head-scratching horror and powerless meandering, Anders and friends (or paycheck-combatants, I really don’t know these days) vomit their obtrusive bile right over one of their eternal classics.

These re-recordings however, serve absolutely no purpose. Maybe these guys actually wanted to infuriate the last bulk of the old fan guard to see how much more it could take before finally – ultimately – abandoning ship but in reality, this is probably nothing more than another attempt at luring people into the mush that is their “modern” sound.

It’s incredibly sad to hear the grandiose melodies of 2000s Clayman regurgitated within the production values of a low-tier alternative rock band. The guitar tone is so feeble and thin, it makes the original sound twice as good and thrice as heavy (and that album had pretty much a fantastic Studio Fredman production) while Anders Friden sounds like…well, what the noise coming out of his mouth sounded like this past decade, maybe just a tad bit less annoying than on the late Linkin Park tribute that was Battles or Siren Charms or Angst Clowns or whatever these indistinguishable, rotten records were called when they were released to a crowd that couldn’t care less.

To be eligible to have the creativity stamp put on their foreheads, the band decided to switch a few things around in the songwriting department aka fucking up the originals where they should have not been touched. A good example is the bridge section of “Pinball Map”, which now features a shittier variation of the the original breakdown with some additional, yet unnecessary (simplistic) lead guitars and some keyboard effects floating atop the now-inferior riff and the modern Friden crying his lyrics over what were originally growls delivered by his younger, beardless (meaning serviceable) self.

The only thing worth a penny (but only if you truly consider the original Clayman to be part of their prime) is the classical best-of arrangement “Themes and Variations in D-Minor”. It’s a medley fleshed out of a variety of melodies from all over the album, presented through string instruments. Since the mix is so bad and there’s hardly any dynamic range to be found here, I’m still not able to discern whether some of these strings are not just VSTi-plugins but who gives a damn anyway because if I want to hear this album in a version that actually matters, I’m just gonna turn around in my chair and dust off the original record.

Clayman never needed a remastering, a sequel or similarly ridiculous treatment. I know it’s been kind of in vogue to trash In Flames since the release of Soundtrack to Your Escape back in 2004 but I’m actually not one of these people. Up until Sounds of a Playground Fading this band had still managed to churn out two or three decent tracks per record before nose-diving into the feces trench full-circle.

Whatever they do these days is predestined to be an epic failure and it seems they are not only perfectly aware of this fact, but profoundly enjoying their ride through the sewers.

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