In Flames, "The Tokyo Showdown"
Thank you, Jesus! We finally have a live album from In Flames. Ok, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but this disc was long overdue. Having relentlessly toured the globe for their latest two releases, In Flames has rocked concert joints everywhere, and where better to record a show than the Land of the Rising Sun (more like the land of the super-appreciative metal fan). So that's what we get. Fifteen pure, bad-assed tracks recorded live in Tokyo.
If you have never seen In Flames live before there's something you need to know before listening: the band's sound is somewhat different than you might expect. Gone is the Studio Fredman polish as well as a lot of the softer portions on their discs. Just like any other good metal band in concert, these guys are really out to do some damage. The best part is that the raw, bare sound suits the music very well. In fact, the recording sounds pristine, very similar to the way they sounded each time I saw them. When you write songs as well as In Flames, it's tough to fuck things up, even when the music gets stripped down. The live version of "Jotun" is much more aggressive than on Whoracle, "Clayman" has new charm, and the "Raining Blood" riff thrown into the middle of "Scorn" is just as cool as the crowd seems to think.
If you have seen In Flames on their Clayman tours, you will likely be familiar with the set list but there are a few surprises in the Tokyo show. The first is that they play "Gyroscope," and though it comes off sounding good, it seems odd for the show. Speaking of incongruous, the second surprise is that they play "Swim." Ok, when I saw them in Phoenix on the first leg of the Clayman tour, I asked Jesper if they would play that song. His response was that the bassist didn't know it. Then, when they came back through, I spoke with a very hungover Bjorn (drinking until 9AM does that), he said that "Swim" doesn't come off well live. After hearing this version, I'd beg to differ. Maybe next they'll include "Suburban Me" as well. Wouldn't that be nice!
Brass tacks: In Flames' The Tokyo Showdown Live in Japan 2000 is one of the most honest, engaging, hard-hitting live albums I have heard in quite some time.
All, but to be more specific: