NEW YORK, NY—Walking past retail stores with every inch of window space conquered by red and green I was starting to feel the excitement as I got closer to the venue. It had been years since the last time I saw In Flames, or Gojira for that matter. Being able to see the bands perform at the height of holiday shopping, well, that’s an escape all its own.
The crowded streets kept me from me catching the opening act, but I got there in time to watch the French quartet Gojira set up. The last time I saw Gojira perform they opened up for Children of Bodom awhile back. The band I remember seeing was nothing like the band up on stage. The newest album The Way Of All Flesh is definitely a lot more polished, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between then and now. They were more refined.
As every piece of equipment was being taken down from the band before I noticed a sense of excitement. When the lights finally went out, I was a tad amazed at the following these guys have gathered up throughout the years. Gojira’s albums all read like books lyrically, they have a concept so a lot of the fans connected with these guys on a whole different level. In Flames seems a bit more sporadic lyrically. With fans hooked to lyrics you would expect a lot of singing along, but that wasn’t the case. It was like any other metal band performing.
As the lights came back on I heard fans battle with sheer frustration. A couple of guys around me were saying, “That’s it?” Of course, what were they expecting from an opening act? Gojira has been disappointing fans for years now in that they don’t play long enough. I don’t think it’ll take too long before these guys go out on their own.
Before long, I looked down and saw a sea of feet. When the lights turned off that sea got rough. The greetings that awaited In Flames was actually on the lighter side, especially after just hearing what these guys did for Gojira. In Flames’ latest release, A Sense of Purpose made some fans a bit weary of their new direction; this is, however their ninth album, so change is kind of expected at some point.
Throughout the night it was becoming easier to tell who had followed these guys for years. The band played “Cloud Connected,” a song released six years ago. The song was met with the sound of voices singing along coped with the handful of people with closed eyes flailing around, bumping into one another with a smirk on their face. “Trigger” and “The Quiet Place” were also pleasantly thrown into their arsenal of songs. “The Quiet Place” has always been the staple of what In Flames is, at least to me, so hearing it live no matter where, no matter when, is always something that sticks out.
Hearing one of the greats of melodic metal struggle a bit reminded me of how hard some of their album stuff is to work out live. Some songs are so layered that it doesn’t sound quite the same, but it almost seemed like none of that mattered while they were on stage. It was just the music and the fans taking it in.