• In Flames - Whoracle (1997) - Somewhere in here, there is a solid EP - 63% (04/02/15)

    In Flames - Whoracle (1997)

    Whoracle is probably In Flames' weakest studio release. It doesn't have the bleak atmosphere of the first releases, fails to come around with the catchy melodies and vocal lines of the transitory middle years and doesn't feature the more experimental alternative rock touch of the contemporary releases. This album feels like a rehash of the previous output The Jester Race which had a couple of decent tunes but wasn't the band's greatest hour either. A look at the track list already reveals the lack of inspiration on this album. The record is only forty-two minutes short and includes two fluffy and inoffensive filler instrumentals plus a cover track by Depeche Mode which means that there are only thirty-three minutes of own music with vocals left. It's funny enough that "Everything Counts" is one of the more energizing and catchier tunes and a rather interesting choice for a cover song. I have always appreciated In Flames' cover tracks and this is no exception. The experimental yet inoffensive original doesn't impress me much but this version is catchy, heavy and melodic at the same time. From the band's own material, only "Episode 666" reaches the same level of addictive energy and would have been an obvious single choice for such a band.

    The only other standout songs are the more experimental efforts. "Jester Script Transfigured" is sometimes missing a clear guiding line but includes a couple of promising song writing ideas in a running time of almost six minutes. The acoustic guitar parts are moving and the distorted violon sounds add an elegant, elegiac and melancholic touch to a track that never falls off the edge. "Worlds Within the Margin" also breaks the five minute mark and is one of the darkest and harshest tracks on the record. It features a fine touch of symphonic elements which is rather unusual for the band. The symphonic extreme metal experiment sounds very promising though and it's sad that the band didn't push this combination of genres any further until today.

    The other songs are generic melodic death metal. These tracks are short and to the point, feature a couple of harsh riffs and focus more on the vocals than before. The problem is that the vocals aren't very variable on here. The lyrics are also rather unimpressive. The riffs start to get repetitive after a while and the album doesn't include many heartbreaking melodic guitar solos. The rhythm section with bass guitar and drums is unimpressive. In Flames has never been a band centered on the rhythm instruments but this element has never been as inoffensive and unimportant as on this output. A more dynamical production would have helped to solve this problem.

    In the end, Whoracle is not an abominable output but it is mostly boring, repetitive and uninspired. It's the most forgettable studio effort by a band that constantly tried out new things. It feels like an unmotivated rehash of The Jester Race where the band was just lazy and wanted to fool around a little bit. I can only recommend this release to faithful collectors and die-hard fans. It would have been a better choice to release this record as a short and entertaining EP featuring only the best tracks "Jotun", "Jester Script Transfigured", "Worlds Within the Margin", "Episode 666" and maybe the cover of "Everything Counts".

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