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  • 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