In Flames - _The Tokyo Showdown_
(Nuclear Blast, 2001)
by: Matthias Noll (3 out of 10)
Oh my god, this is such a lame album, it almost hurts. Especially when I think about _Clayman_ [CoC #48], one of my top albums for 2000, and the fact that I kept listening to and enjoying this record constantly since the Four MusCoCteers met in Rennes over a year ago. Things become even more painful when I remember two of the three In Flames shows from the _Clayman_ tour that I had the pleasure to witness. These gigs belonged to the "exceptional" category, the 11 out of 10 points kind of shows that do not happen frequently. Besides the incredible positive vibe brought across by the Swedes, their energetic performances also satisfied my appetite for upfront, crunching guitar riffing, a good frontman, tasteful guitar solos, and, in general, a very tight performance with a superb and heavy sound and a good selection of songs that made whole venues go berserk from the front to the very back. Yes, the very, very back where people usually sip their beer and try to look as cool as possible. _The Tokyo Showdown_ features the same band I saw live and a similar setlist with a slightly different running order, but simply none of the atmosphere and energy I experienced when I was in the audience. Where live albums like Judas Priest's _Unleashed in the East_, although allegedly recorded live in the studio, almost burst out of their CD cases because of their mesmerizing, energetic content, _TTS_ is suited to put even melodic metal fans to sleep -- so sterile and lifeless is the recording, featuring tight but clean and harmless sounding reproductions of a greatest hits selection. Where the hell did, for example, the incredible dynamics of the opening track "Bullet Ride" get lost? While I remember Anders Friden as a witty and entertaining frontman, on _TTS_ we get song announcements like "this is a song that I wrote when I had a difficult time in my life". This is so pathetic that I'm laughing every time I hear it. At least his vocals sound better than I expected. When listening to this record I'm plagued by images of a band sitting in comfortable armchairs while playing, shedding not a single drop of sweat. They're watched by an audience which is slightly more lively than a soulless corpse, and in between the two parties there is a barrier which separates them some ten miles (about the same distance one got blown away by the Possessed demo in '85). For those who have been waiting for an In Flames greatest hits collection, there is one available now. Just don't think that this is even remotely close to seeing one of their shows. What a disappointment!

(article published 19/10/2001)

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