IN FLAMES – Behind The Jester’s Door

By Carl Begai

It’s been almost a decade since In Flames twisted their once-trademark melodic death metal sound into something less volatile and more mainstream. The aptly titled Reroute To Remain album signaled the change, but the band didn’t crash and burn as so many disgruntled fans had expected. On the contrary, In Flames earned themselves a legion of new fans even as some veteran followers hung on to hope, secretly admitting the band’s new musical direction wasn’t, in fact, that much of a disaster. The band’s new album, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, is by no means a return to old form, but it ranks as one of In Flames’ most diverse outings to date, seemingly hinting at the band’s past as they move forward. Personal observation, for example, has me hearing strains of the Whoracle album from 1997 on new song ‘A New Dawn’. Then there’s the mysterious and dark spoken word piece ‘Jester’s Door’ that preceeds it, which sounds like an obvious tip of the hat – lyrically more than musically – to their 1996 album, The Jester Race.

“Could be,” laughs vocalist and instigator Anders Friden, who debuted as In Flames’ frontman on The Jester Race. “I want to keep it open to interpretation, but it came about because of the lyrics. The track had to be those 10 or 12 lines. I couldn’t make it into a whole song, they were perfect the way they were. As we were recording the album, we had to come up with a song order very early on and keep it that way. Having an album feel was very important to me. It had to have a certain flow, you could almost imagine it as having an A-side and B-side, like an LP.”

“That song, for the dynamics, was meant as a breather; both ‘Jester’s Door’ and ‘The Attic’ were. For me, ‘Jester’s Door’ is an ode or a thank you to the world for giving me the opportunity to do this. I did an interview with a guy who said that I sound bitter and pessimistic on that track, and I was surprised. That was never my intention, but that’s his interpretation and that’s fine. That track could also be a beginning or an ending… I entered on The Jester Race and I now I leave through the Jester’s Door (laughs).”

“Or it could be about someone else,” Friden adds. “I’ve left it open…”

It’s worth noting that in spite of their well-earned popularity at this point of their career, some disgruntled “fans” continue to tear In Flames down at every new turn. With each album comes a new bandwagon piloted by painfully clueless bashers and naysayers, desperate for attention. Friden offers a classic example:

“Talking about Whoracle, I was checking the internet the other day because a friend of mine told me somebody had done an acoustic cover of ‘Deliver Us’, the first single from the new album. I was checking out some of the links around it – some of which were phony, obviously – and one claimed to be a link to ‘Deliver Us’ when in fact it was ‘Episode 666’ from Whoracle (laughs). I was reading the comments beneath it and people were bashing it, saying ‘This sucks! In Flames was better in the old days!’ I was laughing my fucking ass off.”

Check out my interview with guitarist Björn Gelotte here. And, the monster BW&BK interview with Friden and Gelotte can be found at this location.

For information on Sounds Of A Playground Fading go to this location.


5 thoughts on “IN FLAMES – Behind The Jester’s Door”

  1. I have been listening to In flames since someone handed me the Jester Race back when i was in high school. Since then the entire In Flames image and sound has captivated me. At the time i was looking for a sound. One that really spoke to me, one that would channel feeling and thought that every adolescent struggles with. As i aged into a man i almost feel like In Flames aged with me. In ways this is a beautiful thing, however, with growth also come pain. I find it very interesting that my two favorite IF albums would be the Jester Race and A Sense of Purpose. Two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their musical spectrum. I have been on every in flames band wagon between those two albums as well, however this new album and underlying themes have me scared for the band that has supplied the soundtrack to my life so far. I understand that i am sure that it was due to circumstances out of everyones control, but Jesper leaving, for me, is like a flickering heart beat for my In Flames enthusiasm. He was the founding member, and i am sure inspiration behind the jester theme. Through each album there was this soul to its message: Jester Race – struggles of man, Whoracle – death of man, Colony – rebirth of man, and literally on the cover of Clayman… the perfect mam. Written like a book series playing on into another. Each a;bum with the jesters (or jesper’s) stamp on it… jester race, jesters script…etc. And now, the jester’s door. Is this some kind of ode to Jesper, basically you guys “showing him the door”. It pains me to know this is the final chapter in a musical genius’s carrier. Though he may do other things it will never be in flames. My favorite little blurb out of in flames media is during the disconnected guitar lesson where bjorn turns and says…”you need to be really fast with your picking hand, im not…so usually he does it”. I just think as Bjorn always says, he may be playing over his skill level. Unfortunatly the simplicity of the new album and the outsourcing to other artists to cover the lack of writing ability it looking obvious… and the Jester Door is the mocking cried of sailors, standing on a sinking ship… or where the dead ship dwells…*RIM SHOT*

  2. That story is absolutely hilarious. Brofist Anders, it can’t be fun to have to put up with so much hate.

  3. I really don’t understand the critisizm about flames’s new albums..they evolve, improving their song writing and playing skills. I have never seen so much solos and cool melodys such as in the new “sotf” album (except Arch Enemy’s albums off course..:] )

  4. From the minute I heard this track, I thought it was about Jesper and at times I thought Jesper wrote the words.

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