The magic of cities.

That, my dear readership, was In Flames.
In Flames – Moonshield [The Jester Race] | 1996 | Melodic Death Metal,
to be precise, as I’m sometimes wont to do.

That album came out in February 1996.
I think I got it 1998, in December.

It’s a fucking perfect album for the darker and colder times of the year, which is why I stumbled upon it again.
And this song? This is number one on the album.

You put the CD in. You sat back. You pressed play.
And those folkish guitars and melodies hit you.
You start to relax. To lose yourself. You close your eyes.
And then the song hits you full force.

And even though it’s hard and strong and loud, it’s still… Folkish. It’s still charming. It’s melodic (Yes, apparently this IS why the call it “Melodic” Death Metal.). And it takes you away to a different space. It’s atmospheric. (Something the band kinds lost with time, I fear. (Although, to be fair, my favourite In Flames song came out in 2000, on the magnificent “Clayman“))

It’s another thing again when you have this song on your Walkman (I’m old! But even then I used MP3s to create 45min long playlists to then record on blank MCs. ‘Twas a glorious time!) and you’re outside. And it’s dark and cold and the wind is blowing and you’ve got your hands in your pockets, waiting for friends or heading there. Or simply taking a walk. Being cold, walking and just heaving this album flood through your whole being.

I always was more of a Goth/Electro guy than a Metal guy, but this album (And pretty much every In Flames album up to and including Clayman) struck me. Still strikes me.

Apart from the wonderfully autumnal/winterly atmosphere, the technical side was impressive, too. I think it was one of the first albums I got that I really admired for their technical proficiency. If not the first. The timing and the arrangements all simply clicked. The instruments were played extremely well. The mixing was spot-on. And the growling…? Damn. I’m not always a fan, but here? I very well am. Still. Thirteen years later.

Get yourself some cold into your room and listen to this song with as little light as possible. And then tell me what you felt. :)

Oh, fuck! I almost forgot!
Why “the magic of cities”?
Because In Flames hail from Gothenburg, Sweden. “The Castle of the Goths” – Has there ever been a more perfect city to hail from when you create dark music? I don’t think so. And for all that I hate copy-cats… In the late 90s, “Gothenburg Metal” would describe a special kind of Melodic Death Metal that I still adore to this day. It’s not only Nostalgia. They had some utterly amazing tunes in the deep, dark north back then.

And as a monday-bonus?
My favourite In Flames song of all time, in the version I love the most.
It got all the way through my Abitur. I got it after a few weeks in eleventh grade and listened to it all three years through. Never left me. And, it too was a “winter song” for me. I listened to it in the summer too, sure. But in the winter? Magic. Special magic. Especially when comobined with a beautiful girl and a glass of mead by my side, and snow reflecting bright moonlight under our feet, while bright stars were sparkling through misty breath… Early 2000 winters… Had their moments.