UPDATE: Due to a terminal illness in one of the band-member's family, In Flames will not be performing at Mayhem Festival.
Its hard to think of a more cheerful place than Scandinavia. With all its blondes, free health care and cheap/ trendy furniture, its heaven on earth in many ways.
The bulk of the music coming from there is equally bright and upbeat, whether the disco anthems of ABBA, the indie ballads of Peter Bjorn and John, or the frenetic rock hooks of The Hives. Swedish alt-metal group In Flames may be an exception in that regard, but its members enjoy the positive environment and political climate otherwise.
Then comes the sobering reminder that tragedy can strike in the most peaceful of places.
We were in shock, drummer Daniel Svensson said of the July 22 attacks in Oslo, Norway. Weve always been so blessed in Scandinavia, and you dont think of things like that happening there. Its the worst thing since the second World War for us. I feel so bad for everyone involved, and its scary that it happened so close to home for us.
In Flames preference for metal wasnt born from despair or tragedy, but a simple affection for the heavy riffs of Metallica and Megadeth. Like-minded individuals across the region found each other, and with support from the community around them, In Flames and others formed the Swedish/Scandinavian death-metal scene in the late 80s and early 90s.
Back in those days, the climate for people to perform music was really good, Svensson said. The government is really supportive when it comes to cultural things in general. I think thats the thing that allowed that to grow.
The five-piece quickly became a hugely influential force in metal, and soon helped pioneer the melodic metalcore subgenre that gave rise to bands like As I Lay Dying and Trivium, the latter of which will appear with In Flames at Tuesdays Mayhem Festival. In Flames enjoys a godlike status in certain circles, but that doesnt mean that havent learned things along the way.
We have really tried to start making songs live-friendly, Svensson said.
We want to be able to perform the whole thing, as it was intended, live, and thats become something we always think about. Some of the early songs dont sound good live.
Despite the venerable position to which the group has ascended, it is able to approach recording with the same vigor.
You dont think about expectations or people being inspired by you. Its flattering, but it doesnt put more pressure on us, Svensson said. The only pressure we have comes from ourselves, and we just want to keep putting out better and better albums.
He feels the act did just that with its tenth and latest album, Sounds of a Playground Fading, the first released without founding member Jesper Strömblad.
His departure didnt affect the recording in a bad way, I dont think. This is by far the best-sounding album weve ever recorded, production-wise, Svensson said. Its also the album we spent the most time working on. We didnt have a deadline, so we just worked every detail of every song. I think it totally paid off.