The Nine Circles ov… In Flames (music video edition)

IFSS

In Flames needs no introduction. Love them or hate them, they have been a household name in the metal scene for years now. A key player in the Gothenburg death metal movement of the early 1990s, In Flames have released 11 studio albums over the last two decades. While their style has evolved dramatically over the years (and has seen many fans come and go), the reality is the same: In Flames is a band we all recognize.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the Swedes in list format. Many of you may remember back in February (we were still Horns Up back then) I shared my 10 favorite In Flames tracks of all time. This time around, I’ll be looking at the music videos In Flames have released over the years. And let me assure you, there are plenty to pick from.

You may recall that my top 10 track list excluded just about everything after 2000, that isn’t the case this time. Once you move the visual aspect of these clips to the forefront of your analysis, you start to recognize how consistent In Flames have been in the quality of their videos over the years. Covering a wide range of the In Flames’ discography, I’m going to share some of my favorites. Also, I’ll attempt to do so in chronological order, just to provide a linear perspective of how the band has changed in sound and image over the years.

“Artifacts of the Black Rain” (The Jester Race, 1996)

This was a definitive time for In Flames, as this was the first record featuring Anders Fridén on vocals. As such, the video for “Artifacts” is equally as important. The scene darts between Anders-led In Flames on stage and jarring black and white clips of a man fighting his own internal turmoil. The man’s story is explained at the end, but more importantly there is now a visual side to In Flames that accessible to everyone.

“Pinball Map” (Clayman, 2000)

One of my favorite In Flames albums, Clayman largely focuses on themes of personal struggle and depression. Fittingly, the music video for “Pinball Map” is shot entirely in black and white. We move sporadically from Anders standing in isolation on a rocky coastline to scenes of individuals bound by rope in various locations, including busy urban intersections. Overall, it offers a creative glimpse at the perspective of those in struggle.

“Cloud Connected” (Reroute to Remain, 2002)

Considered a transitional album in In Flamess history, Reroute to Remain saw their first major shift in sound. But when you think of memorable tracks and videos in metal history, “Cloud Connected” is right up there. As entrancing as the sound is, the video is equally as fascinating. Set in a dimension-straining ruin, the camera creatively jumps and zooms from one angle to another in time with the song’s cadence. Heavy on the science fiction, the video for “Cloud Connected” manages to fit the sound nicely.

“Trigger” (Reroute to Remain, 2002)

When you talk about the transitional quality of Reroute, this has to be a prime example. The verse-chorus-verse-chorus (with clean vocals) structure inevitably attracted a different fan base. Regardless, this music video is amusing because of the appearance of fellow Swedes Soilwork, who appear as In Flames’ rival in this video. Actually, to get the full concept, I’ve included Soilwork’s video for “Rejection Role”, which is in essence the same thing except, you guessed it, Soilwork is on the stage.

“The Quiet Place” (Soundtrack to Your Escape, 2004)

I’ve always appreciated this track for one reason or another. While the Soundtrack album as a whole never stuck with me, “The Quiet Place” always has. It’s catchy, trippy, and impressive live. But what I’ve always appreciated most about it is the video. It explores the subconscious, the place where our mind goes when we fall asleep, and makes for a visual as complex and creative as the sound.

“My Sweet Shadow” (Soundtrack to Your Escape, 2004)

Regardless of which In Flames style you prefer, “My Sweet Shadow” is a powerful track. While rather delicate in the verse, the chorus erupts in an aggressively enveloping manner. There are more than enough video clips of In Flames being shot performing in various settings, but this one might be my favorite. Captivating in its simplicity, the pyrotechnics explode with the music perfectly. I’ll spare you from any number of puns I desperately want to use when discussing this band and video.

“The Mirrors Truth” (A Sense of Purpose, 2008)

There are more straightforward In Flames videos, and then there are the outright weird. This certainly falls into the latter category. The song itself doesn’t do a ton for me, to be honest, but this video keeps me coming back. To this day, I still haven’t entirely figured out what’s going on. The grotesque giant-headed figures performing recognizable, everyday actions may be a reflection of how filthy we are as a species. If that’s the case, I approve.

“Where the Dead Ships Dwell” (Sounds of a Playground Fading, 2011)

When Sounds dropped immediately after I graduated from college, this was a track that stood out in my mind. It’s melodic as hell, but there’s something about the lyrical content and the pace that just seems a bit darker and a bit more mysterious. Once the music video was released, that sense was validated. I’m not sure if it’s the young girl, the dark presence of the Jesterhead, or the just the overall bleak setting that has the strongest impact, but regardless, it leaves an impression.

“Deliver Us” (Sounds of a Playground Fading, 2011)

I’m rounding this off with the first single from Sounds of a Playground for a number of reasons. Obviously, the song is incredibly addicting from the introductory build to the chorus. But more than that, it feels triumphant. The video, even more so. While the concept of this being set on a Ferris wheel seemed a little ridiculous initially, the more you listen to the song with the video, the more it makes sense. The concept of flight, of being high above everything, but just for a moment in time… it all starts to make sense. With the fireworks exploding in the night sky surrounding the scene, the song becomes even more elevating. It’s an awesome video to accompany an awesome song.

And there you have it. Those are some of personal favorite music videos that In Flames has released over the years. From the simple to the abstract, they have done as much visually as they have musically, and it’s an element to their history that is worth exploring. You can view each video through the links in the song titles above or check out the playlist below. Enjoy.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
– Corey

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