The Orion

In Flames brings destructive sound to Chico

Tom Sundgren

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Guitarist Niclas Engelin and bassist Peter Iwers rattle the crowd with intense riffs and crushing tone. Photo credit: Jake Hutchison

Shadowy beings emerged from the onstage fog as heavy melodic guitar riffs flourished throughout the Senator Theatre’s PA systems on Saturday as progressive metal act, In Flames, ignited the air with their incendiary sound. Devout fans of all ages head banged, moshed, crowd surfed, and sang along throughout the night.

A band that has 11 full-length albums over a span of 21 years, miraculously balanced a set list consisting of their early classics as well as their newest songs. The sound levels were mixed well for all the instruments. Two clear and melody filled guitars, loud triggered drums, a deep bass, and vocals that were clean and other times screaming with intensity.

The stage presence was powerful, welcoming, and brutal. From the long hair flying in the air on the half-time tempos to the enthusiastic facial expressions gave an invite for the audience to give back. The vocalist would point to certain people that knew the lyrics as if they were a part of the song themselves.

Diversity in sound was prominent from the band . Anger would arise across the singer’s face on the louder, more frustrated parts of the songs. And then on the other side of the spectrum were ballads where his voice would be softer and calmer.

Stage lights were synchronized for different parts of the songs which created a tense atmosphere. From the dark greens and reds for the evil sounding parts to the illuminating florescent yellows for the more uplifting times.

Throughout their whole set the crowd slammed into one another and lifted fellow concert goers overhead, which made the security for the Senator work even harder. People were crammed together in the audience with just enough room to move their arms with the metal hand symbol and share drops of sweat with their neighbors.

Songs that stood out the most were from the early era “Bullet Ride” from the album “Clayman.” Along with their current alternative rock sound with “Take This Life” and “My Sweet Shadow” that focuses more on sing-along choruses.

Whether it was a 12 year-old kid yelling their favorite chorus from their modern sound or a dad aggressively moshing to their melodic death metal era; it was all for a solid and fun time. The unity for the love of live metal music which the Chico community needs to represent and host more often.

Niclas Engelin Q&A

Guitarist Niclas Engelin tells how their U.S. tour is going, difference in crowds and some of his favorites to play live.

The Orion: So tell us how has the tour been going these past couple days?

Niclas: It’s been really really good. We have been out here in California for most of the time so far. For some of us it’s new to us with this summer weather because we come from Scandinavia. And back home right now it’s polar bears on the streets and really cold. Haha. No it’s been really good. We’re enjoying it.

Do you notice a difference in the atmosphere of the crowds in the U.S. compared to Europe at all? Or are they pretty similar?

I think. Don’t get mad at me. But I think over here the people that come out are more macho. Like: “Yeah dude! Come on! Yeah, ugh!” But apart from that, it’s quite similar, I guess. Everyone is very helpful if someone falls down and stuff like that. I think that even the Europe crowd can be more rude. Like: “Ah, he is fine!” I think the U.S. is more helpful over here.

Is there a particular favorite city or country you love to play in?

Australia is always nice. Japan is nice. It’s a luxury to be able to do this in the first place. Touring the world and having successful albums. I just love it.

What are some of your favorite songs to play live?

I actually enjoy playing the song like “Clayman”. That one is really cool. “Embody The Invisible,” “Pinball Map,” the old stuff as well. I liked it. The fact that it was maybe more guitar-oriented. It’s more to do and practice. “Bullet Ride” is a good one as well.

Having 11 full-length albums I can imagine how choosing which songs to have on a set list might be kind of challenging. Do you try to play at least one song from every album?

Yeah, it’s a nightmare sometimes. It kind of has to do with what tour we’re on but for this one, I think Peter wrote the set list, and that’s alright. It is good. I think it is more to get the right combination of songs, mood, and the right energy for the set list.

Tom Sundgren can be reached at [email protected] or @tomsundgren on Twitter.

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In Flames brings destructive sound to Chico