In Flames

Venue: Zepp@BigBox, Singapore
Date: 20th July 2018
Promoter: LAMC Productions
Review by: Maisha G.
Special Thanks: The LAMC Productions team

Having been the topic of relevance when hearing about bands like Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates, In Flames are the pioneers of the genre ‘Swedish Melodic Death Metal’ and have garnered diehard fans from all over the world since their debut in 1990. Having released extensive discography throughout their active years, each and every album of theirs stands out and the changes that followed are being accepted as it is. One of the very few bands that fans do not go against the tide of the experimental change of their music they took for their more recent albums.

For the very first time ever, long time lovers of their music gathered that night in a space recently made popular as one of the more suitable and accommodating gig venues. They finally beached up by our tiny island to grace us with the performance that’s long overdue. In Flames has gathered fans from all across the age group and a band that is still actively the topic of reference for the many other bands producing progressive music. They have a long standing of a reputation where they were made the benchmark for quality music.

Fans clad in shirts with the band’s album art throughout the years were seen streaming in as they hold a cup of beer in their hands, one of the many to start, to usher the atmosphere of the incoming brilliant show of the night. It felt like a different set of gig altogether as opposed to the ones I’ve been to. The crowd were mainly made up of middle aged men, though many were all suited up in black from head to toe, some were seen in their formal office wear and also one who was geared up and ready to go for a marathon. I found myself smiling for no reason and looked at my attire for the day and felt that I was trying too hard to fit in for a metal show but it is a nice community, especially, where you’re not being judged for what you’re wearing and how you look. People embrace everyone from all shapes and sizes and none is left behind. That is the camaraderie of the metal community, from what I have observed for the past few years that I was actively patronising metal shows.

As we made our way into the venue itself, I was glad that I could finally stand in the middle of the crowd, having to always stand at the back of the crowd most of the time, it was a breath of fresh air not having to suffer watching the show through handphone screens.

I can’t say I listen to In Flames regularly and I am a true diehard fan but somehow, somewhere, the songs just manage to squeeze themselves into my random playlist, which I totally resigned to the algorithms of Spotify and it piqued my interest and attention. Something I know it to be old yet mature but sounding so evergreen as each beat progresses.

The song that I remember vividly listening to on repeat when I stumbled upon an album from them by chance, it was the song “Trigger” that got me so hooked on the melodies that it became an instant earworm. Their album Reroute To Remain made its debut in 2002 and I only discovered it when they reissued the album in 2014, making the sound for polished and chiselled and just hard hitting notes that got your feet banging when your head isn’t able to commit to the cause.

The band started the night with a track off Soundtrack To Your Escape, a popular number titled “My Sweet Shadow”. I have never heard or seen metalheads freaking out like girls during a Black Friday Sale at Sephora, spewing “oh my god” every second as the band began the show with a bang, making their fans oogle over them with their prowess. I overheard someone shouting “This is a dream come true since I was a little boy” and I panned myself towards the direction where the voice was coming from and a fan, clad in the ‘Colony’ shirt was utterly moved and he was indeed tearing. As soon as the night started, it felt like it was more than just a mere metal gig. I was keeping my reservations as to how I am feeling, hoping that it would come to light by the end of the day.

The next song that came on, the circle pit started to form and everyone was just running towards the congregation as they punched their fists in the air, singing along to “Pinball Map”, a song off the Clayman record which to me, I find it rather iconic and ingenious display of the acclaimed Vitruvian Man on as the album cover. I was being pushed into the pit and was rather caught by surprise and duly unprepared and I wiggled my way out of it because I was just trying to soak in the atmosphere before I could actually let loose on the dancefloor, or more so, waiting for my jam that’s impending, and so I was confident of that.

And it soon came after a few songs from the older albums, hearing the crowd singing word and word. Anders Fridén, the frontman humoured us with on stage banter, telling us “just play metal music and drink beer, to be like us”, which is definitely something that does not sound bad at all. Masking themselves with pure badassery on stage, once in their normal conversational form, they proved to be one of the nicest individuals whom deliver their presence with so much humility. Having coined the term of ‘Swedish Melodic Death Metal’ from their genesis, they still hold strong humble positions and proved to be just like anyone else in the crowd. It felt bare as Anders had a conversation with the crowd, cordial yet charming in his own ways. I of course could not keep my eyes off their faces because of their glorious facial hair that made me swoon like back when I was only 12.

The song finally came and I have to admit, this is an unpopular opinion but I seem to enjoy their latest album, Battles, more than their older material. It might just be a sole opinion of mine but the progressiveness that is evident in this album is refreshing and I could listen to the album many times over without skipping any songs at all. My jam, “The Truth”, carved its way to the crowd as the riffs reverberated across the stage, and I started moving. There was a tall person who was blocking my view but it did not matter as much as I just wanted to be in the pit. Again, I was pushed and my face plastered against the back of the giant who stood in front of me and I was caught in the mosh pit, moving and pushing but all in the name of good fun. Sadly, I only lasted for a good minute because my body was already begging for mercy, didn’t help that it came with the old age.

‘Colony’ was the shirt that was seen worn by many of the fans that night so you can possibly imagine their excitement and rigor when they played “Colony”, the crowd instantaneously grew wild and everyone was found swaying from side to side, being dominoes and getting caught in the massive circle pit. It was surreal for many as it was the first time in five years since they have performed this song on tour and we happen to be one of the lucky ones to have had experienced the song live. It was nothing short of magical.

The band ended the night with the song “The End” as an apt song for the curtain close. They are not known to have encores for their shows because it was a full 90 minute adrenaline rush, pumping blood vigorously into your blood streams and I have nothing but mad respect for their prowess, stamina, talents and of course, their humility.

That night reminded me of the good nights we have once had, as a community, coming together with a similar shared goal. A band can teach us so much about togetherness and In Flames, having been around ever since I was born, has managed to bring together people from all walks of life, with their music and their stage presence. Thank you for the amazing night, LAMC Productions.