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In Flames has always been a bit of an anomaly in the metal community. Not because they aren’t well known or anything, they certainly are; they are often seen as a zit on the face of melodic death metal. We all know that these guys have released some of the genre’s “essentials” such as “The Jester Race” and “Whoracle”. These albums are testaments to the Gothenburg death metal movement and also to heavy metal as a whole. But what about “Colony”? This album is often mentioned in circles surrounding the genre as well, and rightfully so. I’ll say this is my favorite album from In Flames. It always has been and likely always will seeing as In Flames (in my opinion, as this certainly doesn’t speak for the vast majority of people) hasn’t had a decent album out since 2008. I mean “Sounds of a Playground Fading” is alright but the last two albums are pretty sub-standard. Just wait, I’ll eventually release my thoughts on that pop rock abortion that is “Battles”. But for now, let’s discuss “Colony”. Let’s discuss an album that is seen as both a classic AND as an atrocity, or rather lackluster, by some.
This album has a bit more of a power metal aspect to it. Not in the vocals of course but in the style of the music itself. The guitars are far more melodic and some could even say epic. Not epic as in epic black metal or Blind Guardian or Symphony X style, but as far as In Flames goes, this is pretty, well…epic. Some of the catchiest riffs these dudes have ever written are included right here on this album. Maybe that’s why it became such an accessible listening experience. Nothing here is going to wow your musical imagination with algebraic complexity border lining on complex calculus, but that’s okay. In Flames was never the band to really do that sort of thing even on these classic albums of the 1990s. Take “Embody the Invisible” for example. This is the album’s opening track. It begins with an insanely catchy riff that does rear it’s lovely head in the song’s concluding moments but it is so catchy, a pop punk band probably could have utilized it as well and no one would have given a gosh dang monkey crap. The solos on this album are prevalent and every song boasts a decent one but like I said, nothing too crazy really happens. “Ordinary Story” is probably the most recognizable song here and likewise has a music video to go with it. The solo in this song is amazing and proved that Jesper could write a great solo using simple methods. He certainly is missed. “Zombie Inc.” is another favorite of mine and starts with a slower, yet EXTREMELY melodic riff. This riff is also used in the song’s chorus. The songs all sound a bit similar to each other but with songs this well-crafted, why would that be a bad thing? Even the gorgeous acoustic interlude “Pallar Anders Visa” is extremely effective as is the rerecording of the classic from “Lunar Strain”, “Behind Space”.
There is not too much more to say about this album but here, Anders’ vocals sound like a more expansive style he was using on the previous two albums, most notably “Whoracle”. He uses some “cleans” and spoken words such as on “Ordinary Story” again but not to the point he would eventually reach on “Clayman” and unfortunately on “Reroute to Remain”. His vocal style differs a bit from “Clayman” (which would be released the following year, and of course usually is constituted as the band’s last “relevant” album by a lot of people, myself not included) in that he doesn’t use as many high screams. That would of course become his standard style of harsh vocals. The drumming is standard for In Flames. There are not that many blast beats, if any actually qualify as such, to be heard here. Just standard, groove-laden drumming. And this is okay with me.
I’m a bit shocked at how many of these reviews state this album simply as average. It really feels like so much more than just that to my ears. It had to be 8 or 9 years ago when I first heard this album and even to this day, it frequents my eardrums. It’s not an absolutely perfect album but as far as In Flames goes, I still stay it’s the cream of the crop.
Follow-up from the classic "Whoracle" release back in 1997, "Colony" has a little bit of a better recording quality than it's previous output, but the guitar riffs aren't as memorable. The throat is still high-end screaming by Anders which definitely fits the music, both clean tone rhythm guitar and heavier crunch tone distortion. A lot of the songs feature a combination of the 2 types of guitar work with a different tuning than "Whoracle". Instead of being in C, they are in A#.
There is less lead guitar work and more of a focus on milder tempos including acoustic medleys with a lot of aura behind them. I'd say that after their next album entitled "Clayman", I lost interest in the band because they changed their style of music too much to the point to where I'd just want to say that they (like many other bands) sold out. I don't feel that way about "Colony" because it's still within the melodic death metal category. Even though there are some songs with clean throat also, they still maintained themselves into being true to their roots.
The guitar riffs are at a milder tempo, but they still have some aggression behind the music whereas on "Clayman", it's a little "happier" sounding. Noteworthy guitars, same lyrical concepts i.e. astronomy and fantasy, plus music that only features solid melodic death metal. This album is slower than "Whoracle" in terms of the tempos, but like I previously said a solid release within the metal genre. A lot of chord progressions, some tremolo picked riffing (but not as much as "Whoracle"), and a milder vibe to the music.
"Whoracle" was way more noteworthy than this one and I was surprised that it got a lower overall rating than "Colony". It was probably due to the recording quality (like I said) and a more solid drum work than it's predecessor. I'd have to say that I liked "Whoracle" more, but I'm not saying that it's a total waste to pick up this album for yourself. It's definitely vintage In Flames, just milder and still featuring some form of aggression to the music.
In summation, "Colony" is definitely an album get if you're a melodic death metal freak like me. As I previously stated, it's not as noteworthy as "Whoracle", but it's still good musical outputs and overall musicianship by the band. Strange tuning on the guitars though, but they still kick butt with the rhythms. I think that a combination of clean/distorted guitar riffing was well put out here, but not as good as "Whoracle" or even before that "The Jester Race".
Since the conception of the Gothenburg scene, spearheaded by its own version of the Big 3 in At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and the infamous propagators of its most commercial aspects In Flames, the stubborn question of “what does melodic death metal have to do with death metal?” has haunted us all. This question could be best answered by an understanding of the death metal genre’s evolutionary split between the newer, brutal style that had been informed heavily by grind-influenced acts such as Suffocation and Cryptopsy (and to an extent Cannibal Corpse, though they never fully incorporated the grind influences), and the conservative death/thrash crowd who became a minority but nonetheless endured in acts like Morbid Angel and Obituary. The thing is, like with all splits, there is never really an even halving of styles, and other parties tend to develop alongside the 2 more obvious results. While some could point to progressive tinkering amongst certain parties such as Cynic, Death was probably the chief instigator of what became melodeath, though they never fully integrated themselves into it.
This is all relevant because there is a good argument to be made that, in their infancy, all 3 of the Gothenburg trio had a noticeable death metal presence to their sound, albeit mixed in with consonant melodic material that hearkened back to an earlier time. But the assertion that melodeath was merely power metal with harsh vocal work and a bit more aggression didn’t really hold up, that is, until the release of “Colony”. The 4th studio offering by In Flames, the act of all parties in question that tended to be the most commercially oriented can be seen as one of the catalysts that along with several noted Finnish bands brought the power metal identity into the equation. The elements that made this possible can be traced back to the stripping away of the remnant of the asymmetrical songwriting style typically found in death metal compositions that took place on “Whoracle”, but there was one missing element that completed the circle, and that is newly recruited drummer Daniel Svensson. His driving, fast paced, intense drumming functions as a bridge bringing forth the speed metal tendencies of late 90s power metal, and thus the distinctions between 2 fairly different styles become blurred, and make the simultaneous upsurge of bands like Children Of Bodom and Skyfire all the more logical.
It should be noted that, unlike most Finnish melodeath or extreme power metal bands, In Flames hasn’t adopted the same frenzied intensity. “Colony” is more of a fast, but strictly structured assault that bares more musical similarity to the conservative Maiden worshipers in the power metal camp. The riff work is more prone to bouncing riffs rather than tremolo madness, the melodies are a bit more animated and, at times, percussive, and the drum work is as tight and precise as a machine. The guitar solo work has been spiced up to something that borderlines on virtuosic, in contrast to the reserved, semi-riff/melodic tendencies of past offerings. The only weak link in the chain, and one that really drags down the entire album, is the haggard voice of Anders Fridén. While previously his vocals mostly came off as a really weak and cracking attempt at channeling Chuck Schuldiner, here his work sounds like a precursor to the metalcore-like whines of Alexi Laiho’s later work on “Hate Crew Deathroll”. It literally gets so bad at times that one might expect Matt Heafy to show up to supply some clean vocals.
Putting aside the obvious flaws in the front man’s performance, there is some pretty solid metal on here that could only be made better by putting Bruce Dickinson at the helm. Wickedly catchy bruisers such as “Embody The Invisible” and “Scorn” put forth a sound that could be passed off as a heavier, down tuned Helloween with a toneless voice at the helm. “Zombie Inc.” takes the prize for best melodic guitar work, sweating the sweetness of consonant harmonies in a way that almost seems to want to revisit “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” era Maiden, but with a much deeper and harder edge to it. But in terms of driving intensity and overall triumph, the best songs are “Coerced Coexistence” and “The New World”. Both feature wild guitar solo sections (the former features a guest slot by former Europe guitarist Kee Marcello, whose chops handedly surpass anything this band has done or will likely ever do on their own), but the real power is in the battering drum performance and the animated, almost thrash oriented riffing.
One thing is obvious upon hearing “Colony”, whether one looks for this in an album or not, it is about as catchy and easily accessible as Gothenburg brand melodic death can get. This is the sort of album where literally anything on here, including the instrumental bonus track “Man Made God”, could be passed off as a single. Unlike its predecessor, it is not a concept album in a strict sense (though the theme of religion is present throughout), but it can be listened to from start to finish without any speed bumps that aren’t automatically inherent in the band’s sound. It could rightly be labeled as a brand of pop/metal in that it is wildly predictable, but it’s also a solid bit of fun. Not the most spectacular thing to come out of Sweden, but definitely far from the worst thing to, and a possible crossover album to introduce power metal fans to more extreme styles, or vice versa.
Lo and behold, the only truly commercial In Flames album that is worthy of a little bit of praise, because after this, things really started to turn into crap. After releasing 'Whoracle', the strange album that is near-worthless but is still mysteriously regarded as a classic, In Flames probably found out that they needed a better formula to work on, so they came up with this.
The year is 1999, and around that period the Gothenburg bands slowly started to realize they weren't fooling anyone by playing something that bore the death metal name yet still had almost nothing to do with death metal, so they began to change. Some of them became more experimental, and some of them became more commercial. Being the most Maiden-bastardizing band this subgenre has ever seen, In Flames obviously took the second path, and so 'Colony' was born.
This album is the perfect definition of mid-era Gothenburg; It’s Iron Maiden with downtuned guitars, screamed vocals, faster drumming and a streamlined approach towards songwriting, which is one of the main reasons this genre experiences such derision from many seasoned metalheads.
I will begin by stating the obvious; this album is very catchy. Stromblad doesn't even care about pretending to be a death metal guitarist anymore, so he just goes 'Fuck it, let's play some Iron Maiden' and that's exactly what is shown here. Every track is filled to the brim with shimmering Maiden leads and melodic riffs, so I'm pretty sure you've got the whole idea by now; if you're looking for something extreme here, be ready to waste 40 minutes of your precious life.
While many say that In Flames was already a sellout band from the very beginning, I say this is their only sellout album that actually worked. The whole mallcore bullshit that plagued Whoracle and would stain the rest of this band's forthcoming releases is pretty much absent here, being replaced by simple yet driving riffs and the already mentioned Maiden-inspired melodies, which while being painfully derivative, work very well within the album's context and musical direction, so that's a plus. Take 'Pallar Anders Visa', this album's instrumental track. It's simple yet beautiful, just like this band used to be; not overly daring nor extreme, just plain catchy fun. It works, it fits.
With Björn’s departure from drums to assist Jesper in the guitar department, his replacement, Daniel ‘Leinad’ Svensson, does a really nice job. His style is obviously more varied than Björn’s since he’s actually a drummer and not a guitarist playing drums, and it works as well as when he played on Sacrilege. I might add that it would be really nice if he sung here instead of… oh, okay, let’s get to the next paragraph, shall we ?
And now comes my favorite part. Man, Anders Friden is still Anders Friden. His tone here seems a little bit more relaxed than the horrid one he used on Whoracle, but - of course - the man still sounds like a dying weasel. Also, this album marks his first attempts at true clean singing, and you know how it sounds, you just know. I'm going to be fair and say that it doesn't suck as much as it would later on, but it’s still mediocre. Songs like 'Ordinary Story' would work much better if he just gave up the ridiculous moaning and started singing normally like he does briefly on ‘Insipid 2000’ , but hey, what can we do ? Let us be fair once again, this is the ONLY album where his penchant for multitracking actually works in his favor instead of against him, such as in the chorus for 'Resin', where his vocals actually sound (gasp) engaging.
The production job is excellent. The C-Tuned guitars sound – for the first time in this band’s career – very powerful and well mixed, the drums sound heavy and clear, and the vocals are also well handled by the engineers. This album, and not Whoracle, should be considered a classic as it contains the catchiness of old In Flames mixed up with slightly modern but subtle sensibilities that don’t detract from the listening experience. The very last interesting album of a band once full of potential.
Highlights; “Zombie Inc”, “Resin”, “Insipid 2000”, “Pallar Anders Visa”.
"Essential" is a relative term that implies an album is a must listen for fans of the band mentioned and the genre that spawned it. In the world of melodic death metal, In Flames remains a constant mention, due to their pioneering stance in the genre and the fact they're the most popular. Yet while more recent In Flames have sunk into the depths of sub-par performance, there was a time when the music they put forth was a necessary listen for fans of melodic death. "Colony" is arguably the last of these albums, joining "The Jester Race" and "Whoracle" before it.
In terms of progress, "Colony" is the next step from "Whoracle." The songs seem better crafted this time around, not to mention catchier. The melodies still stick in your head for quite some time afterward and some of these songs still contain a fair share of kick to them. In terms of Gothenburg inspired melodic death metal, I have to agree with a number of reviewers here in saying this is about as good as it gets from this genre. I may have before that "Whoracle" was my favorite, but after re-listening to this album for a while, I must say my opinions have changed.
We get to the core of what is great about this album in songs like "Embody the Invisible." Its pure melody and catchiness, one that will be swimming in your head for days. Add "Scorn" to that list, a song I particularly liked on this album. "Scorn" also keeps the pace picked up rather well during its duration, only slowing down in certain spots. The title track is a slower, more ambient number that employs some mood shifts but good nonetheless. "Zombie Inc." goes through some tempo changes as well, but this song manifests them into something better and more exciting than the title track. Other great tracks include: "Coerced Coexistence" and the returning concept of dual instrumentals in "Pallar Andres Visa" and "Man Made God." The former of those is the better, and arguably one of the best instrumentals by the band.
Unfortunately for In Flames, this seems like a dead end for them. Maybe "dead end" isn't a great term, more like "Colony" was such a good release they couldn't possibly improve upon it. I felt like "Clayman" gave it a whirl, but in the end fell flat with only a handful of songs being keepers. "Colony" stands as In Flames' triumphant moment, packed with more aggression and more catchy melodies than the two albums prior. Its a great listen through and through, and causes one to ponder what in the hell In Flames were thinking when they left this behind. Again, possibly has to do with the inability to recreate successfully what was present here.
In the end, I look kindly upon "Colony." I said it before, and its been said by several others, that this is In Flames' best effort. It towers above everything "Reroute to Remain" and is also comes out over its two counterparts in "Whoracle" and "The Jester Race" in the popular In Flames trinity of albums. As far as Gothenburg is concerned, I believe its a worthy mention in the best that scene has spawned, alongside Dark Tranquility's "Mind's I" and "Projector" and possibly some of Soilwork's earlier albums, like "A Predator's Portrait." As for the curious of In Flames, "Colony" is an excellent first album, as it presents their pinnacle before their slow collapse on "Clayman" and beyond. For the misguided diehards of new era In Flames, "Colony" is also a must as it portrays the greatness this band once possessed. In any event, any fan of In Flames and/or melodic death metal will be wise to seek it out.
In Flames may be nothing more than MTV2 fodder to most, considering the ridiculous nu-metal ramblings of “Come Clarity” and “A Sense of Purpose”. But there was a time when they were true melodic metalgods.
Unfortunately, In Flames’s pitiful ascent to stardom has followed the same whoring path as Cradle of Filth and Dark Tranquility, shying away from its roots, and metal altogether, to become a glossy-video, mass-market supergroup. However, they were a truly talented band that produced amazing albums before their downfall, just like the aforementioned British Filth. “Colony” is one such album. “Colony” is a masterpiece.
The feat of having a lengthy 13-track album that still ends way too soon is incredible in itself already. Every song is a highlight, not even the instrumental feels like a filler. It’s rare to find an album where every track is different and yet it still feels like a universal idea as a whole, a single-minded entity. Even the order of the songs seems planned and pre-meditated, here every single aspect of the album contributes to the feeling it invokes.
The production of this album is absolutely perfect! It feels enormous in the sense of depth and clarity, with very subtle echoes and other effects. One cannot think of In Flames without the incredible guitarists coming to mind. Stromblad and Gelotte weren’t included on Guitarist magazine’s “Greatest Guitar Duo’s” list by accident. The guitars on “Colony” are monumental! The composition is impressive on every song. Every riff and solo is an experience, bearing a sense of purpose and occasion. The harmonising twin-guitars are stirring, each note ringing true. They switch seamlessly between heavy riffs and beautifully melodic interludes, successfully channelling old-school masters into their modern European sound. The bass is very solid, the 6-string never running out of answers and proving innovative even amidst the immense wall of guitars.
It’s hard to name the style or genre of the music on this album. At times, one is tempted to say metalcore, and yet that isn’t correct at all. As vague as it sounds, “Colony” is the epitome of melodic metal, with the guitars and bass often adopting an ‘80’s style reminiscent of Iron Maiden or Saxon. Another brilliant success of this production is the drums. The sound is exactly right, perfectly suited to the overall sound of the music. Even in parts where the music lends itself to more aggression and the drums step up accordingly, the double-bass is never deafening. The cymbals are crisp, the snare tight and full. Many times, the drums also lean in favour of older metal, with slower beats and minimal speed or aggression, but it suits the melodies and pace of the songs. It is picked up occasionally to a double-time or double-bass drive, but never seems like too much, never heavier than the album wants it to be.
Bass is not often so substantial in an album of this kind. Almost always audible, and harmonising beautifully with the guitars, it brings a third leading sound rather than simply rhythmically backing up the guitars and filling the drums. I’m not a huge bass enthusiast, but here the bass impressed me, never standing back to let the incredible guitars steal the show. The vocals were perfected on this album. It was too deep on “Jester Race”, almost death metal, making it too much and too indistinct for the melodic sound of the music. Furthermore, it was to refined on “Reroute to Remain” and later albums, with over-the-top clean vocals and not enough metal. On “Colony” Anders got it just right. A very recognisable scream with the odd grunt and even cleaner sections, it had decent versatility. A very passionate and spirited delivery helps to emphasize this, proving that the vocals, like everything else on this album, were not just an afterthought. His voice suits the music perfectly, with enough infectious scream-along choruses making the songs truly memorable.
Inevitably, the guitars claim most of the glory on “Colony”, but unlike Dragonforce, the rest of the band has more than enough to do the melodies justice, making this album a clear triumph. This is undoubtedly the highlight of In Flames’s career. Where today, their name must always be whispered in public, lest a mallcore fanboy comes running about the brilliance of their latest albums, they sadly seem reserved for commercial mediocrity. However, “Colony”, unknown though it may be, is a shining testament of their former glory. A pivotal moment in my metal life, it must be added to your collection at all costs.
Literally, Daniel is the only member in this band today that still outshines everyone else, though I wouldn’t count it all on his drumming for later releases. Here he’s spectacular, putting the guitars in their place and serving as the real shred of intensity and brutality since Anders completely ditched growling. Double bass gallops, cymbals crash like meteorites in the jungle, toms sound vivid while his playing adds color to such a black and white album. Whenever I think about this album or the one after it, I look forward most to his playing rather than anything accumulated by the rest.
Studio Fredman was at the height of its clarity and mixing on this thing for 1999. Everything is much more balanced than on Whoracle and every instrument sounds light and clear. I’d hardly call this melodic death metal the way it was only a couple albums prior; more like heavy / power metal with harsh vocals. There’s a huge emphasis on more Maiden-esque leadwork amongst pushy riffs. The lack of aggression is the first off-putting feeling. Gone is the bulk of that arcane Studio Fredman guitar tone and atmosphere defining the previous two albums. Everything follows the same formulaic song structure and hopes to amaze you with the leadwork and a catchy chorus. Colony will always be a mediocre release because of this. It is a run of the mill album with some fine moments, mostly average moments, and some really bad moments.
Vocally it’s an embarrassment; Anders should have just quit the band. He doesn’t even growl anymore: screams / talking / and griping all thrown into a blender plus atrociously off-key clean vocals rarely touched on. That’s what Colony happens to be stuck with, and don’t tell me there’s any difference between his singing here and his singing on Soundtrack To Your Escape aside from more whining. Shallow and dull characterize his voice; personification is out of the question. It's the one major problem I have with this album aside from the shift in direction. Anytime I listen to "Scorn" I cringe.
Beauty in the form of sound waves projected from the strings of guitars dripping with emotion, life, and treatment for the heart and soul – the guitars on this album do not accomplish such the majority of the time. They meet it halfway. They’re standard heavy metal leads aiming to impress with flare and some form of dignity, and sometimes this turns out just fine. As much as I dislike Anders’ vocals, “Ordinary Story” is the finest example of a simple song with spirit. It’s got a mystic atmosphere, depressive background rhythm, and a cruel lead – if Anders wasn’t in it, then it’d be one of my favorite songs. Otherwise the rest of them cater to extremely melodic leads without any feeling, thus remaining on an average level. It's why Colony beats Whoracle on the whole - having mostly average songs with a couple standouts as opposed to having an album with either shit songs or good ones.
There aren’t many bad songs, but mediocrity sums of the whole thing. For the good things about the album - "Man Made God," "Insipid 2000," the title track, "Embody The Invisible," "Ordinary Story," and "Zombie, Inc." - lackluster ones like the "Coerced Coexistence" and "Resin" don't do much that's interesting to be above standard melodic death and ultimately keep the album from reaching its full potential. If I wanted better leads I’d listen to Desultory, epicness would lead me to Destroyer 666, and better growls = Intestine Baalism. Regardless though, these songs are fun and would do well in a concert atmosphere where you wouldn’t give as much of a shit. Too bad the band can’t even replicate these own songs anymore, which is fucked up since the exact same members playing today are the ones on this album.
A lot of people consider Colony by In Flames to be not only their best album, but a landmark album also. Though I don’t fully agree with it being their best album, it sure is one of their better albums, and a damn catchy one at that.
I think one of the reasons as to why most people consider this to be their greatest work would be that this is clearly their catchiest album by far. They really went over the top on this one to make the average listener fell good with the melodies in this one. The melodies aren’t really anything to point out on creative wise, buy they’re catchy as hell and well get stuck in your head.
They went overboard also on the production for just about everything. This is a very clean album unlike their early work link on Lunar Strain. Yet even though it’s very clean they also managed to make it pleasant to listen to and not get tiresome. When listening to the rhythm guitar you can really hear a crunch to it which doesn’t make it sound weak or worthless, and the bold lead guitar sticks out with every solo (which all sound pretty cool).
Now it wouldn’t be an In Flames review without mentioning Anders and his vocals now would it? We should all know the drill by now do you think? He is monotone, lacking emotion and strength, cant do growls, kind of whiney in later work, and so on. Yet like it or not, this is the best album Anders gives a vocal performance on. I think it has to do for two reasons only also. One of them would be how this is the first album where Anders starts to test out new vocal approaches that sound decent enough not to piss the listener off. The last few albums that they released with Anders he mostly does these raspy growls that pretty much get annoying after excessive listening to. This album also has some growls that and mediocre, but take the song “Ordinary Story” for example. First thing you notice about Anders vocals are he’s not doing any growls at first, instead he opens the song with low clean verse then goes into more high pitched screams. On Clayman or Reroute to Remain he goes overboard on the high screams and they get annoying, and the low moans on Clayman also feel off. This might be why fans don’t really care for those albums vocal performances. I mean everything Anders uses on Colony he also uses on Clayman/Reroute, he just doesn’t go overboard.
Like I said the production is nicely done on this one, it also helps the vocals. All the songs on this album have an echo over Anders voice. At the end of every line he sings you can hear it echoing, which helps with some atmosphere a little bit, but nothing amazing. After hearing the echoes on every song however it can get a tad annoying.
Well if you want to talk song structure and writing this album is about the same you would expect for In Flames. Every song follows the same pattern that all their songs follow. You got the opening riff, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and the closer, just like every In Flames song out there. So if you’re hoping that this album would be different structure wise, you’re out of luck. Lyrically this album is decent. The lyrics aren’t the total crappy whiney nonsense like their newest album, but they also don’t flow together in a way to make a concept album like Whoracle was. They’re kind of fantasy based and also a little personal based, so their kind of interesting, but nothing to rave about.
Anyways, this is a pretty good In Flames album. It’s hands down their catchiest album, and Anders sounds natural and the best on this to all their albums. If you can tolerate Gothenburg music or really catchy music with a positive feeling for that matter I would say get this album.
This is the album where In Flames emulated Iron Maiden the right way. Colony may never win any points for originality or for being highly creative, but at least they do what they do in a tasteful manner. There is nothing truly original about Colony, or even spectacular for that matter. As state3d previously, this is Iron Maiden worship. It may not be apparent at first, but the homage to Maiden is there. It’s just covered by a thin veil of down tuned guitars and snarled vocals.
The order of the day found on colony is straight forward groove riffing with a taste for bouncy and catchy. Every riff is instantly memorable due to the blithesome display of melody throughout. Every melody is decorated with notes selected for the sake of pure sonic pleasure. They arouse a strange sense of joy within the listener. It is not the type of joy experienced after a mighty triumph, but a casual, everyday type of joy. This type of joy is delivered without unbearable drama or stinky cheesiness or even pretentiousness. It is just simple happy sappy joy, nothing complicated.
The songwriting is relatively straightforward, mainly based on rock song formats. A dominating consonance is found throughout each and every song. The melodies and harmonies are simple and catchy, but yet articulate enough to avoid overwhelming boredom. Riffs and melodies frequently recur in cyclical song structures. Yet, because the riffs are highly addicting, it never quite degenerates into lame redundancy or self-parody. Quite on the contrary, one might find themselves returning for more audio pleasure.
If there is ever an acceptable commercial metal album, this is it. In Flames have accomplished what every pop artist aspires to do. Certainly this will appeal to a wide range of listeners. Nothing is complicated, and there are no deep concepts. It doesn’t aspire to achieve greatness or anything of artistic development. However, it sure does make for one hell of a guilty pleasure.
While Whoracle saw In Flames perfecting their craft wrought on The Jester Race, Colony expanded the band's sound into more accessible, and yet heavier territory. What is put out here sounds like the best elements of Whoracle, such as melodic soloing, put together with the more straight-forward and less evolved passages on Clayman. In a sense, Colony is the apex of the old In Flames sound before they veered off into different terrain. All of the Gothenburg tendencies are still present, but seem to be restored with a more dynamic, controlled edge by the subtle but important introduction of slightly more independent and artsy flair. Not so much that it comes off as "experimental," but there is definitely something different at work here.
These new elements that I speak of really aren't outrageously noticeable, but do give the songs a pretty big boost. Daniel's addition to the band as drummer definitely rears its head; Bjorn's drumming was pretty generic and boring, and while Daniel's skills weren't as progressed on this album, they certainly make themselves known. "Scorn" boasts some impressive, although simple, double bass work that adds a lot of guts to the song that otherwise wouldn't be there. Daniel seems more confident behind the kit, and does a great job of adding some ear candy to the album. Other elements on the album include keyboards, such as the organ on the title track, or the stand-alone piano on "Ordinary Story." The instrumental "Pallar Anders Visa" shows a wise use of violins and harmonized acoustic guitars. Anders also takes a stab at some clean vocals here, too. We saw some of it on Whoracle in the form of really low-register talking, but on the title track and "Coerced Coexistence," Anders actually tries singing; and to be truthful, it sounds a lot better than what he does now.
Aside from his occasional clean vocals, Anders' growls seem more clear and focused here; more gutteral. "Zombie Inc." in particular offers some great vocals, switching gears between throaty snarls and the more fierce growl/scream. Lyrically, things have only gotten more cryptic, especially on "Resin" and the title track. There are some recurring themes, though, mainly focusing on societal problems and materialism. Anders' performance is probably his best of old era In Flames, certainly better than that of Clayman.
Bjorn and Jesper are at the top of their game here. Nearly every song features a solo, and all of them stand out in their own way. Whether it's the fast-paced shredding urgency of "Coerced Coexistence" or the re-recording of "Behind Space," the melodic, flight-of-fancy solos never fail, and play a larger role in the overall sound than previous albums. Everything in the guitar work seems more focused and ear-catching, mainly the harmonies on the absurdly catchy opener, "Embody the Invisible." Harmonies run amok throughout the course of the album, and both guitars collaborate wonderfully to construct proto-Gothenburg melodies, some of which are probably too happy-sounding for their own good. A flawless performance though, and a signature Abyss studios production ensures clarity and guts in the guitar playing.
I have to take off some points, though; both "Insipid 2000" and "The New World" are boring as hell, and only drag the end of the album down with mediocrity, repetitive structures. and lack of ideas.
This album certainly isn't for most death metal fans, particularly those who are looking for something dark in nature. Truth be told, this album sounds ridiculously bouncy and happy at some points, probably because most of the guitar parts were composed in major keys. Oh well. A great album, and the last really good album from In Flames.
This is supposed to be one of the big Melodic Death Metal masterpieces. But I've come to certain conclusions about this band as well as the Melo"death" genre. I've been taking a lot of time to reflect over the quality of this kind of music since "Reroute To Remain" came and killed whatever was left of this genre. Anyways, I fail to see how this is a Melodic Death Metal masterpiece since there is no actual Death Metal to be found here. Whether or not it's a masterpiece is up to each listener. This is my view:
"Colony" may not be as straight-up annoying as "Reroute.." or "Soundtrack.." but it sure does fall short in many ways. Anders Fridén has always been a lame vocalist and this is no exception. This is where he started his vocal "experimentation" and he sure does suck whenever he tries to do harmonies. For instance, there's "Ordinary Story" which used to be one of my favourite tracks by any band when I was a metal newbie. Here he goes all clean in the first verse and it just sounds terribly computerized and completely out of key.
Another beef I have with this particular album is that it's very overproduced. Just like Soilwork's "Natural Born Chaos" every sound is totally magnified and might seem like something "cool". For instance, we have the intro of track 3, "Scorn". This may seem heavy on CD, but performed live it just sounds boring. That's what happens when someone records 589 guitar tracks over eachother. Speaking of "Scorn", the vocals on that song are terrible. The patterns seem very close to hiphop and generally feels computerized, once again.
However this album has a couple of tracks that doesn't suck. The title-track "Colony" is one of In Flames better tracks and is pretty headbangable. "Embody The Invisible" also has some good moments between the turd riffs. However, the rest of the tracks are pretty much filler. "Insipid 2000" is the only track that offers something of that bunch. Well, at least grabs my attention instead of being a total bore. And two tracks that really piss me off are "Behind Space '99" and "Clad In Shadows '99". Anders total butchers these songs that were two of their best tracks when Mikael Stanne did the vocals. Those songs used to have some atmosphere on the originals but they're totally converted into modern bullshit in the new versions. Worst idea. Ever. Even by In Flames standards.
I don't get all the worshiping that's going on. This album is pretty mediocre while still being okay by IF standards. "Colony" is the only track on here that even resembles greatness.