Though they’re little more than a punchline these days, it’s hard to overstate just how important In Flames were in my journey into metal fandom. As I began my crossover from nu-metal kid into “the real shit” — sometime around eighth grade — the Swedes were one of the first contemporary bands to really hook me. At their peak, they hit every note I wanted to hear: the sense of melody I’d come to appreciate from classic artists like Maiden and Priest; a heaviness that, unlike nu-metal, didn’t feel clownish; and most importantly, an almost unfairly catchy presentation of both those component parts.
And it’s thanks to that last point in particular that Clayman was the first In Flames album to hook me in. So in honor of its 18th birthday this past Tuesday, let’s take a look back at it.