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Clayman

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★½
(131 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • This album is great from start to finish, it has some of the koolest guitar work ever.
    The previous reviewer, Brian Lomas, is a fool.
    This album does not suck at all.

    Posted on December 21, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • i heart this album to the max! though i enjoy music from almost all genres (the exceptions being smooth jazz, rap, and country), i had always been dubious about the metal scene. one day on a whim i decided to kick it and bought an old shadows fall cd. it was fun cd for cruising around the geriatric neighborhood with the volume way up, so i was like, hmmm…what next?
    enter clayman! forget sf, this album is the boat-rocker. and i’m not just saying that – i can be a real criticizing music wench (like cradle of filth is too overdone for my tastes). the guitars are intensely melodic, the occasional synth is rad to my crAzy ears, and the strong, versatile vocals put all those whiny hardcore/straight-edge christian screamers to shame. my favorite track is definitely “only for the weak,” as i love the 80s and the synths that came with. all other songs are 8/10 or above…which is rare for an album. i had no idea metal could be so good.
    now, not only do i have the wild desire to buy the entire in flames discography (except maybe the newest cd, the style of which i don’t dig as much), but the doors have been opened to the wonderful world of melodic (death) metal.
    bottom line: clayman is FREAKING AWESOME. if i, one who can go from oingo boingo to the damned to pixies to tom jones, happen to love it, then there’s a good chance you will too.

    Posted on December 20, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’m amused at how opinions vary wildly about this album. It might be sellout c’rap or an amazing metal album. Perhaps it’s a blunt example of In Flames’ music or it could be their best. So, let’s add my opinion to the mix for fun. In terms of production and intensity, _Clayman_ is In Flames’ best album. Although I prefer _Whoracle_ for its diversity and epic flavor, _Clayman_ offers a persistent intensity that is unrivaled by anything in their catalogue.To this I would credit the production… which is a key accessory to the aggressive songwriting, of course. This album just sounds huge and in-your-face, and it never suffers from the occasionally sloppy mixing of _Colony_ (an otherwise well-recorded album) or the tinny audio from earlier releases. Anders Friden’s voice is laden with effects (multitracking and distortion) which enhances its power. His awkward growl from earlier albums has been replaced with his bestial, feral scream, and this is all for the better. His clean vocals, which appear abundantly, are not strong but when confined to an eerie whisper they can be powerful. The guitars are thick and heavy, the drums are pummeling, and even the bass stands out with a fat rumble (worth mentioning since 99% of metal lacks bass presence). Also to the album’s benefit is the relentless power through every track, with no song failing to be memorable – and consistently high song quality is a boon to any record. “Bullet Ride” absolutely slaughters with its titanic lead riff, steady build-up through the verses, and crushing chorus; at the other end of the CD, “Another Day in Quicksand” is a riff heavy beast. Holding the middle is the huge title track, led by an incredible guitar harmony and the best of Friden’s vocals. “Suburban Me”’s guitar solos top ANY In Flames song to date — desperate and melodic. “Pinball Map” fuses classic melodic In Flames riffing with scattershot, odd-time riffs and a rare, effective cleanly-sung chorus.Some of the most interesting songs are where the band experiments with some production effects. “Square Nothing” builds in its early stages with muffled drum sounds and staccato guitar chugging. It later breaks out into a rapid-fire guitar rhythm that culminates with a very emotional chorus. A programmed drum loop appears during the final verse of “Bullet Ride” for an effective change of texture. “Only for the Weak” has a anthemic melody backed by a synthesizer; synthesizers also appears for a starry, winding atmosphere on “Satellites and Astronauts” and snaky blurbs on “Clay Man”.After _Clayman_, In Flames arguably went downhill but up to this point they proved to be one of the best metal bands to come out of the 90s. So buy it up and enjoy.

    Posted on December 20, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • After the release of “Colony” and subsequently having it grow on me like a nasty strain of the Ebola virus, I became an In Flames freak and tracked every trace of albums I could find by the band. Now, speaking as one who has heard every bit of their material, I’m telling you to seek out “Clayman” and buy it wherever you see it. “Colony” was a very innovative and mature work from a damn near revolutionary band last year, containing insanely catchy grooves from one of my all-time favorite guitarists, Jesper Stromblad. Anders Friden, formerly of Dark Tranquility before joining In Flames for “Whoracle,” has one of the most interesting voices in metal today – just listen to the tracks “Only For the Weak” and bruising opener “Bullet Ride” to understand what I’m talking about. His mellower, almost spoken-word softer passages are haunting in a quietly brooding way, but when the choruses crescendo, get ready for a demonic vocal assault, just as you’ll recognize from “Colony.” Friden’s voice hasn’t changed a bit – it’s just gotten better for this album. So no worries about commercial sellouts, catering to the radio or MTV or letting any fans down whatsoever. Overall, there’s really not a bad song to be found on “Clayman,” just as with “Colony.” Highlughts include “Bullet Ride,” “Only for the Weak,” “Swim,” and the title track. Fans of the band’s previous effort will be delighted to hear that nothing has changed with the band’s sound; as the first few seconds of “Bullet Ride” will alleviate any fears of In Flames going the Paradise Lost path and turning into Depeche Mode incarnate. (Though there IS a short segment of a techno-ish drum machine in “Bullet Ride” which is really not needed, but believe me, this album is so good I have no room to complain.)Just as I said with “Colony” – if you’re a metal fan, whether it’s black metal, death, grind, hardcore, thrash, whatever you’re into – “Clayman” will satisfy any expectations you have for it. Hail to In Flames!

    Posted on December 20, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • “Clayman” is, simply put, an indescribable achievement in the metal genre, making much of what preceded it sound downright obsolete. It’s as melodic as the best classic metal, as precisely played as the best thrash metal, and almost as intense as the best death metal. In other words, it’s sort of like Iron Maiden meets Megadeth meets Carcass. With musicianship and creativity to spare, In Flames were at the top of their game with “Clayman.” As “Clayman” amply demonstrates, In Flames are one of the most talented metal bands walking the Earth today. Anders Frieden is a terrific vocalist, easily one of the best in metal. He delivers his throat-ripping screams with the utmost intensity, without abandoning the melodic sensibility that defines In Flames’s sound. There’s some diversity to be found in Anders’s performance as well: the foreboding near-whispher on the opening “Bullet Ride,” and “Only for the Weak,” the clean singing on “Square Nothing.” The band behind him, led by guitar hero Jesper Stromblad, is equally astounding. They tear through a constant succession of razor-sharp riffs, hard-driving guitar harmonies and complex rhythms, and they make it look easy. Many bands wouldn’t even attempt the song structures that In Flames pull off routinely.Above all, “Clayman” is a triumph of songwriting. This album has some of THE best melodies I’ve ever heard, in any genre. More importantly, though, In Flames don’t just try to coast on their impressive melodies. On almost every song, the band deftly mixes foot-tapping catchiness and head-banging heaviness. One minute they can seduce you with an addictive melody or guitar harmony, the next they can aim straight for the jugular with a volley of heavy riffs and harsh shouts. It works the other way, too: In Flames know exactly when to take a break from heaviness and lighten things up a bit. They’re intent on not sticking with the same sound for too long, giving the listener a nice variety to chew on.Although the songs on “Clayman” are only about four minutes long on average, most contain more energy and chops than many entire albums. The masterpieces come early and often on this album. “Bullet Ride” features some whispered vocals and acoustic guitars in the verses, but it’s just a setup for the anthemic and heavy chorus. “Pinball Map” starts out with machine-gun riffing that sets a new standard for catchiness before giving way to an equally memorable melody. “…As the Future Repeats Today” is just plain mesmerizing, with time signatures and guitar harmonies that will slay even the most discriminating metalheads. “Square Nothing” starts out as a soft, acoustic ballad, but then stops on a dime and turns on the heaviness out of nowhere. “Brush the Dust Away” is another classic, with ripping guitars, a chugging bassline, and some wildly infectious grooves.What’s most impressive about “Clayman” is that I have to fight really hard to keep myself from commenting on every single song (wouldn’t want to put any readers to sleep). Pretty much everything here is no less than great. I think “Clayman” is definite improvement from its predecessor “Colony,” and maybe even better than “Whoracle” and “The Jester Race.” But ranking this album in the In Flames catalogue is really beside the point. All you need to know is that “Clayman” is brilliant in every sense of the word. If you don’t have it yet, what are you waiting for?

    Posted on December 20, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now