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Since the times when "The Jester Race" was quite a new album I've been a constant listener and I'd even say - a fan of these Swedish guys. They always knew how to make nice metal of the more "modern" kind. I even liked "Reroute to Remain". Both "Colony" and "Clayman" are among my favorite albums from the nineties. This live CD was recorded during the Japanese leg of the "Clayman" tour and released soon after, as far as I know. Given the impressive sound of "Clayman" and especially "Colony", I thought that this live recording should be one of the greatest in the recent years. I know that the atmosphere at their gigs (some bootlegs are my source of information) is really hot and everyone is just going apeshit. Anders Friden is known as an active and lively frontman, who is always in contact with his audience and the band delivers a strong and massive performance... Well, this could as well be a list of all the good things you won't find on this so called "live" recording.
This sounds more like a rehearsal with some drunk friends present in the studio. There is an absolute lack of the concert atmosphere on this recording. Anders greets the public after the 6 th song, if I remember correctly. I think that's the first time during the gig that he says anything at all. As I said the atmosphere is totally lacking and the audience is audible only between the songs. And even then only barely. No lights! No stage! No Sound! Yes, no Sound! The guitars were so thick and massive on "Colony"! And here they are so thin and one-dimensional! Well, almost...for some reason the sound gets better here and there. I know - live situation is quite different - you can't have any multi-layering like in the studio, but still it is possible to have a massive and powerful sound. And In Flames is THE Band which SHOULD have had that sound. Hypocrisy were much more successful at recreating their massive hundred-ton-sound on "Hpocrisy Destroys Wacken".
The playing is competent, however. It's just terribly lacking that special LIVE energy "Live Shit", "Decade of Agression" or "Live After Death" has. Sometimes, when Anders tries to sing with a clean voice, he is off key too. "Only for the Weak" is a fine example. The verse is awful. These aren't even clean vocals, he realizes that he can't sing it properly, so switches to some idiotic half-whisper or something. I remember expecting him to sing the (simple) melody that was there on the album, but, alas, it was not to be.
I don't know why they decided to release this. Didn't they hear that this sounds quite shitty and absolutely NOT LIVE? They could have made it... Why release such a crap? Such a pile of cold meat. Just because it's cosidered "respectable" to have recorded a live CD in Japan? The bootleg "Live in Stockholm" would have earned a 80+ rating. This earns 46%. Maybe 50? No, 46%.