Art & entertainment
Home - About - Contact - Overview - Resources

Old In Flames vs new In Flames

by kbrecordzz February 19, 2024 In Flames

4 years ago I listened to the 2019 In Flames album "I, the Mask". Here's my review of it:

Comparing to "old In Flames": They try to make melodies, but they've lost the sense and touch. They try to make something new, but it fails. The beautiful, interesting and surprising song structures are gone. The style of In Flames is in a way still there, but the music is nothing particular - they just do what they do. With that said, second half is pretty good.

But why compare? In the shadows of Whoracle and The Jester Race everything becomes weak. They weren't made by the In Flames of today, and "old In Flames" only existed for a short period of time in the 90s. Listening to music with a desire for it to be in a specific way only creates unnecessary disappointment, because In Flames won't ever go back to their "death" roots (you might also miss great new qualities because you're only looking for old great qualities). In my eyes, change and creativity are equally as important as the music quality. While Dark Tranquility and At The Gates keep it safe, continuing their style with all metal asthetics in a good manner, and Jesper Strömblad brings back the old In Flames sound in a new and not at all as creatively fun shape (CyHra), In Flames keeps a constant change, thinks creatively and goes in any direction they want. Much cooler, objectively speaking.

Reviewing the album for what it is: A decent metalcore album.

That was 4 years ago, and I haven't really switched, or not switched, about the "old In Flames vs new In Flames" question. But now I'll use them as examples in a bigger question.

When I listen to the 1996 album "The Jester Race" in the car, my ear hurts. Because the guitar sound is so freaking distorted, sharp and nasty. It hurts my ears, but I love it. The thing is that when sound engineers get too good, they start to get perfectionistic and want to remove all these "bad frequencies" from the super-distorted electric guitars, because they hurt your ears, and that can't be good, right? If you watch tutorials on sound mixing, or if you go to some sound engineering school, you'll learn how to make music sound perfect, and that usually means removing everything that is too sharp, dissonant or annoying (go to whichever Youtube tutorial about mixing and they'll sit there in their gaming chair and go crazy over some non-song that sounds like nothing, because they've created a perfect sound and that's what sound engineering is all about! And while I'm inside this safe parentheses I could as well be controversial, to a length that I almost don't agree with myself: Sound engineers are not needed, if you make magical music. You only need them to turn the song into a WAV file and send it to a streaming service aggregator). A more nuanced view is that sound engineers are important, but they should only focus on making magical music and not on creating the perfect sound. Magical music IS the perfect sound. Listen to the dirty guitar sound of The Jester Race and Whoracle, the weird-sounding snare drum on Soundtrack to Your Escape, or the growling bass, the amplifier noise and the overall amazing sound on their 2004 live show at Sticky Fingers, and compare it to whatever In Flames album after 2010. Songwriting aside, what sounds the best? What sounds profesionally sound engineered? If you give different answers to these two questions, something is wrong with the general view on sound engineering.

And here's a guitar cover with more of that sound that sound engineers fear...

Golden emails