In Flames set the Commodore on fire

Melodic death metal troupe leaves Vancouver ablaze.

By Jacob Zinn

Gothenburg, Sweden’s In Flames are credited with inventing melodic death metal, and after their set at the Commodore Monday, Jan. 31, they should also be credited with perfecting the genre.

(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)

The Scandinavian metal pioneers played the first of two shows at the Commodore Ballroom with support from Los Angeles hard rock trio Kyng, Chicago deathcore four-piece Veil of Maya and Orlando thrashers Trivium.

The show wasn’t sold out, but that just meant the true In Flames fans were in attendance, and they were probably returning to 868 Granville St. the next night.

The band opened with the title track to their new record, Sounds of a Playground Fading, and riled up the crowd with the song’s heavy riffs and lung-strengthening vocals.

In Flames’ performance of “Deliver Us” – the album’s first single – only emphasized how impassioned their fans are. Those in the front row, some with tears in their eyes and “In Flames We Trust” scrawled on their arms, outstretched their hands to lead singer Anders Fridén and sang the lyrics back as he screamed into the microphone.

By that point, the Ballroom floor was surely gathering pools of sweat, but the fans kept the energy up through the new track “All for Me”. They were perhaps the least unruly metal crowd the Commodore has ever seen, even with the ensuing circle pit.

The band performed at least one song from six of their past seven albums, including Reroute to Remain, Clayman and Whoracle. Guitarist Björn Gelotte unleashed a wicked solo during “Trigger”, and the heads kept banging during the classics “Alias” and the extremely heavy “Swim”.

The band delved further into their discography and performed the more-melodic-than-death “The Hive”, pushing the lanky frontman’s vocal chords to its guttural limits.

But despite any vocal wear ‘n’ tear, In Flames went non-stop through their highest-charting single, “The Quiet Place”. The song opened with a scream, and from that point on, all one could see through the flashing strobe lights was a sea of metalheads jumping in unison.

The band returned to the new tracks, performing their newest single, “Where the Dead Ships Dwell”, and drummer Daniel Svensson brought some earthquaking double-kick for “Fear is the Weakness”, carrying a primal rhythm throughout the song.

When the acoustic intro to “Come Clarity” sounded, everyone sang word for word and raised their lighters – not iPhones, lighters – in the air. They kept harmonizing through the ariose “Delight and Angers”, and not one sweat-soaked hardcore fan had had enough.

After the supremely technical “Ropes” and the band’s debut single, “Cloud Connected”, In Flames stripped down their sound to something faster and louder. They closed the show with the rough-edged “The Mirror’s Truth”, then ripped into the core of death metal, pitting kick drum versus eardrum with “Take This Life”.

“I have no idea what day of the week it is because I live on a tour bus,” said Fridén, “but I hope you had a good day.”

The show was as much a visual spectacle as it was an audible one. There was no pyro, no wires and no gimmicks – just some pulsating lights and a killer melodic death metal band. As long as they have a dedicated fanbase in Vancouver, they’re bound to come back and reignite us again.

(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)
(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)
(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)
(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)
(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)
(Jacob Zinn/The Runner)