Episode 666: Revisiting In Flames’ 1997 breakout melodic death metal cornerstone, “Whoracle”

In their 25+ years of existence, Sweden’s melodic death metal exports In Flames have become metal icons. While it’s probably true that their last few albums haven’t been as great as, say, The Jester Race, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they have a deep and varied discography.

While their mid-period works like Reroute To Remain deserve more accolades than they get, it’s 1997’s Whoracle where the young band really found their identity. Following up their career-defining The Jester Race wasn’t an easy task, but there’s enough riffs and melodies here that influenced plenty of your favorite #metalcore bands.

Alongside At The Gates and Dark Tranquility, In Flames helped to define and essentially trademark the Gothenburg sound – a melodic form of death metal with obvious influences from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Whoracle leads off with “Jotun”, a rousing opener with impressively melodic guitars. It’s simply one of the best In Flames songs period, and works as a sort of counterpart to “Embody The Invisible” off their next album, Colony. Plenty of highlights abound, as well. “Episode 666” and “The Hive” carry plenty of momentum throughout, containing some of Jesper Stromblad’s best lead guitar riffs and an inspired performance by vocalist Anders Friden.

At first listen, you might not recognize “Everything Counts” as a Depeche Mode cover, but it is! Such a unique take on one of the more underrated DM songs that is truly made into their own, and provides a change of pace of sorts that’s really refreshing. Plus, the guitar tone is thick and meaty. How can you not dig that? The album closer // title track is also quite good, too, with its acoustic-led melodies providing a major foreshadowing to future records.

One listen to Whoracle and the band’s strengths are apparent – emphasis on accessible melodies, expertly crafted songs, a shiny new production, and of course, the development of a sound that would go on to influence many of today’s most influential metal bands. You could even say Whoracle is arguably their peak, so without further ado…

In Flames We Trust

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