On a night celebrating the return of In Flames, the heavy metal denizens of Montreal converged to Théâtre Corona for a night full of euphonious, chaotic metal. Even though In Flames is no longer carrying the flag for Gothenburg melodic death metal, the band still has a knack for delivering excellent live performances. This night was no exception.
Up first was Arrival of Autumn, the lone Canadian band on the bill. Kicking off with atmospheric noises akin to a hellacious storm brewing in the distance, the crowd knew they were in for one remarkable night jam-packed with heavy metal. The Canadian metalcore band ripped into their set with a powerful opening song, full of blast beats, slick riffage, and eclectic vocals. “Witness” proved to be one of the highlights of their set, exhibiting the perfect balance between implacable fury and melodic breaks. There was no shortage of brutality in this set, as songs like “Better off Without” and “Apocalyptic” created a frenzy in the pit, with my metalhead brethren headbanging in unison. The setlist ended with “The Horror,” where the song’s frantic introduction was matched only by the equally chaotic scene in the pit. Not giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath, the band saved the best for last, ending their set with possibly the most hectic banger track of the night. There’s no doubting that Arrival of Autumn is a supremely talented young and dynamic band.
Up next was the four-piece outfit known as Red, an alternative Christian metal band. Although Christian metal isn’t my sort of thing, I put my trepidation to the side before the group took the stage to give them an honest chance. Apparent issues with sound production aside, the opening track “Death of Me” was an exceptional opener and got the crowd captivated from the onset. To my astonishment, it appeared there were more Red fans than I anticipated, likely a reflection of the band’s longevity in the industry. In all honesty, the entire setlist was incredibly refreshing and surprising, as the Armstrong twins (guitarist and bassist) shredded like maniacs on stage with an equally menacing presence to match. Red did give fans a taste of new music from The Evening Hate EP, with the title track and “From the Ashes” making an appearance. Their stage presence was anything but tame, doing an excellent job of getting the audience immersed in the music and singing along during the catchy choruses. That said, the most cringe-worthy part of the night was the band shaking up water bottles and spraying the audience at the end as if it was alcohol. Overall, the band’s execution was immaculate and sounded as if Jesus Christ himself picked up a guitar and decided to shred his way back to life.
Now, for the grand finale.
As someone that fell in love with In Flames over fifteen ago, it’s still agonizing that they abandoned the old melodic death metal style in favour of a more mainstream approach. That said, the band is still trucking along and absolutely shredding night in and night out. After seeing them open for Within Temptation earlier this year, it was refreshing to get a more diverse setlist with hidden gems mixed in throughout the night. As soon as the band started with “Cloud Connected,” the condensed crowd went into a tumultuous furor, with an enormous mosh pit erupting in the middle of the venue. Diving into their extensive catalog, In Flames played classics such as “Only for the Weak” and “Take This Life,” encouraging die-hards in the crowd to mosh & sing along to their heart’s content. Just before hitting the midpoint of the setlist, the band dazzled the audience with two songs from the 90’s era. After absolutely killing it with “Behind Space,” a gem from their debut album, In Flames proved that they still have the mettle to perform their classic material in style. “Graveland” was another delightful treat, as it was only the second time the band had played the track live over the past ten years. After indulging the crowd by playing older material, In Flames tore through the rest of their setlist, which included quite a few tracks from their latest release, I The Mask.
Despite not being the same group they were 25 years ago, In Flames is still a formidable live act. Recent lineup changes over the years seem to have rejuvenated the band, as both vocalist Anders Fridén and virtuoso guitarist Björn Gelotte show no signs of slowing down. Fans of the band’s material, old or new, simply cannot pass up the opportunity to see them live.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy