Review: In Flames – Down, Wicked & No Good

In Flames kept this one under their hat… We weren’t allowed to tell you about this EP until today – when they release it! Four cover songs by quite the variety of original artists by Swedish multi-genre specialists In Flames. Confession – I was only really familiar with one of the original artists, so I went digging for those so I could compare the versions. That’s how kind we are to you.

Given the small number of tracks, I’ll hit each one individually…

It’s No Good (Depeche Mode)

This is not the one I was familiar with. In Flames have gone all out with keys and synths to get that well-known Depeche Mode sound, and then gone over it with coarse sandpaper. The vocals are definitely interesting… in that I’m fairly sure that joining Anders on vocals is the original vocalist (Martin Gore?). Do excuse the guesswork as we received little more information about this EP than the general fanbase! It’s good, though. Quite the sideways step for In Flames, a band well known for being happy to dabble in various soundscapes.

Down In A Hole (Alice In Chains)

Nope, I didn’t know this one either. I’m not a big Alice in Chains fan (which has earned much disgruntlement from other members of our crew), but I dug this original out to compare it to the In Flames version.

Again, a twist has been given to the original though it still retains the gritty tone that Alice in Chains gave it. Added to this, though, is a slightly doomy edge courtesy of some reverberating bass notes. Otherwise the two are very similar, with the layered vocal effects being particularly well replicated.

Wicked Game (Chris Isaak)

This is the one I recognised from the original (and not from the HIM cover from about a decade ago). This one’s definitely different from the very beginning. That “bags of sand poured into the amps” sound used on “It’s No Good” comes back to take the clean edge away from the opening steel guitar riff. Industrial style bass beats replace the originals plain bass thumps. While “Wicked Game” was never exactly the cheeriest track, In Flames have given it the George Orwell dystopia treatment. It’s gone past melancholy and into post-holocaust. This is definitely my favourite track of the four and not just due to my familiarity with the original.

Hurt (Live) (NIN)

Now this one I knew, but not as well as “Wicked Game”. It’s a live recording, so one with which In Flames fans will possible already be familiar. Indeed, it may well have been the inspiration for this little collection. This already stripped-back track is laid completely bare by In Flames, reduced almost entirely to just vocals, acoustic guitar and a simple rhythmic drum beat. Oh, and the audiences clapping hands.

All four of the songs are superb. They’re well chosen and well performed. At first listen I wondered if they may be a little too left-field for In Flames’ existing audience (I mean, this is a million miles away from, say, “Behind Space”), but once you realise that they went nuts over “Hurt”, the other songs seem like natural companions.

Suffice to say that I had this on repeat while I was reviewing it and one co-worker who overheard “Wicked Game” commented that it was a great cover. The fact that it can catch someone by surprise like that and hook them in is this EP’s selling point. They are good covers and this is a good collection.

In Flames will be touring in December with Five Finger Death Punch & Of Mice & Men:

  • Dec 17th – Birmingham,BCA
  • Dec 18th – Glasgow, Hydro
  • Dec 20th – Leeds, Arena
  • Dec 21st – London, Wembley Arena

Down, Wicked & No Good is out now

In Flames: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

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