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Some people have contested this album’s worth as a Death Metal album. They claimed that the style of play found here is more akin to a power metal band. Yet, it is a mystery why no one has contested this album’s worth as a metal album, period. It is difficult to consider this metal at all, much less power metal, and certainly not death metal.
The only time In Flames truly shines is on the very first song, Moonshield. This song is a masterpiece, and it stands as a mountain among wee little mole hills, which is the rest of the album. Cleverly crafted folk melodies are interwoven throughout the track with such exquisite delicacy. If In Flames composed the rest of the songs in similar manner, it may very well be praiseworthy.
Unfortunately, they don’t. It seems as though In Flames spent all of their energies and efforts for the sole purpose of producing Moonshield. On the rest of the album, it just seems like they half-assed it. The brilliant wanderings prevalent on Moonshield are absent on every single other song. Instead, they are replaced with wimpy riffs whose melodies resemble that of commercial jingles. Every riff contains a happy bouncy feel; the kind of feel one experiences when listening to a pop album. In fact, it is safer to categorize The Jester Race as a pop/rock album, rather than a metal album.
Another attribute which makes this more of a pop/rock album than anything is the rather stale songwriting. All the do is layer riff after riff of sheer ineptitude. They are more bent on formulating hooks than any feasible songwriting. To make matters worse, these hooks are not very well supported. They’re overly consonant and devoid of any interesting contrast. The melodies are more prone to drive the listener up the wall with sappy sentimentality.
Why is this album praised? Why is it even considered metal? It is just a collection of bouncy riffs and malformed melodies which are miserable attempts at emulating Iron Maiden. The only time In Flames has been successful at emulating Iron Maiden is on Colony. That’s right, Colony is better. In fact, it is actually quite enjoyable. The Jester Race is not.