In Flames / Devildriver
24 April 2004
The Astoria, London

Unfortunately due to arriving a little late and encountering a few problems with obtaining the photo pass on the door, Johan and I missed the sets of Disfear and Caliban. In fact Disfear were already out the back of the venue eating kebabs, but were happy to pose for a picture.

Can we ever forgive Dez Fafara for Coal Chamber? Well, based on the crowd`s response to Devildriver`s opening song Nothing`s Wrong, the clear answer would seem to be yes. Fafara, certainly now looks more metal than nu-metal, decked in a Motörhead t-shirt, long black hair and beard, at times his aggressive stage presence reminded me of Phil Anselmo. Vocally he summons an array of screams and guttural barks.

Musically, Devildriver are from a completely different world to Fafara`s former band, coming across like an unholy amalgamation of Pantera and Cradle Of Filth. The opening three songs are sped through relentlessly with no gap and when they do pause for breath they are met with a reaction usually reserved for a headline act.

Fafara wants more though and requests a circle pit before the pulverising Die (And Die Now) and gets it. It does feel very much like Fafara`s band, but he has assembled capable talent to back him. What Does It Take (To Be A Man) is dedicated to Fafara`s father and the blue collar lifestyle.

Relentless is the word that keeps coming to mind and by the sixth song Devildriver began to sound a bit samey and Johan and I sought refuse in the bar. From there, we hear closing song Meet The Wretched and later we do just that. Fafara made an appearance at Garlic & Shots, and to answer my initial question, I told him based on this short set I could forgive him for Coal Chamber!

Devildriver Set List:
Nothing`s Wrong? / I Could Care Less / Cry For Me Sky / Die (And Die Now) / The Mountain / What Does It Take (To Be A Man) / Meet The Wretched

It`s 6 years now since I first saw In Flames at the Dynamo festival promoting their Whoracle album. At that time they were already three albums and two EPs into their career and playing the smaller tent to an enthusiastic response. Plenty of hard graft and determination has seen their continued ascent and tonight The Astoria looks a whisker short of being sold out.

The letters spelling In Flames light up as five shadowy figures take to the stage and launch into Dead Alone from the latest Soundtrack To Your Escape Album. In fact it`s not until Episode 666 that a glimmer of lighting allows us a clear sight of the Swedes. Anders Friden greets us and introduces the band, "We`re In Flames, and we rule!" …and he`s right.

Jesper Strömblad and Bjorn Gelotte stalk the stage whilst peeling off the familiar refrain of Embody The Invisible. With his ever lengthening beard, Gelotte bears a resemblance to Pantera`s Dimebag Darrel and is equally adept with the guitar.

Watch The Feed from the Trigger EP is visibly less known by the crowd, but it`s a powerful tune and full credit to In Flames for including it in the set. What is missing however is anything from The Jester Race album. A small complaint, and maybe we could have benefited from appearance of Moonshield as for one portion of the set In Flames stack back to back three songs from their latest release.

It was however time to spend some quality time with Friden`s demon as Square Nothing makes a welcome appearance and sticking with the Clayman album the title track follows.

Friden announces that In Flames are recording a DVD whilst on the road and if we want to be on it we have to go mental. Only For The Weak, is the prefect song to incite the required response and sees In Flames followed round the stage by a video cameraman.

Friden announces as long as there`s an In Flames they will always play Behind Space, a track from their debut album from which Jesper Strömblad is the only remaining member. Tonight`s version is slightly rearranged with a different beat but remains as powerful.

Latest single The Quiet Place is greeted like an old friend and as there appeared to be no added live keyboard player I had guessed that In Flames were using backing tapes, but was surprised that drummer Daniel Svensson wasn`t wearing headphones. Regardless the sound was superb all night with a good balance between the guitars and Peter Iwers six string bass

Given the Astoria`s strict curfews due to the following club, it was no surprise that In Flames choose to plough straight through their set list without bothering with a formal encore for closing numbers Colony and My Sweet Shadow. This was a much better performance than In Flames last visit to London, which I had also enjoyed immensely and am now looking forward to their evening slot at Sweden Rock.

In Flames Set List:
Dead Alone / Pinball Map / System / Episode 666 / Embody The Invisible / Watch Them Feed / Coerced Coexistence / Cloud Connected / Touch Of Red / Like You Better Dead / In Search For I / Square Nothing / Clayman / Trigger / Gyroscope / Only For The Weak / Behind Space / The Quiet Place / Colony / My Sweet Shadow

Footnote: On leaving the venue we encountered Lee Dorian of Cathedral who was more than happy to chat and pose for pictures. In fact he was with Leif Edling of Candlemass no less. However, Lee told us Leif had "gone for a shit". I hope Leif`s OK, as we were asked to leave the venue before we had chance to meet him, though the thought of shaking his hand became less appealing the longer we waited!