What can be said of the elder statesmen of Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal that hasn’t already been said? The pioneers of a once nascent now sprawling and consistently imitated style have been one of the mainstays of the metal scene at large, and melodic death metal scene in particular with their innovative brand of music.
In Flames meteoric rise continues still after the release of A Sense of Purpose, their ninth studio album. Speaking to In Flames
’ upbeat and lively bassist Peter Iwers, a member since the release of Whoracle
in 1997 (who complimented me on knowing that little vignette) he couldn’t contain his palpable excitement at the prospect of headlining the Soundwave Festival.
“It’s going to be awesome,” he exclaims. “It’s something we do a lot over in Europe, but it’s going to be exciting doing one that includes so many different genres; it’s going to be really cool playing in front of people that wouldn’t normally come to see us.”
The band is also looking forward to catching up with some of the other bands they’ve hung out with during their travels as well;
“The Bloodhound Gang
are pretty cool,” he says, chuckling. “They’re a real bunch of party dudes.”
Inevitably it seems with In Flames, their newer releases can never shy away from fan and critical controversy – some fans decry them as “sellouts” while others pine for the sound they once produced on their earlier material such as The Jester Race or Colony.
Iwers maintains that the band does what they feel is right for them creatively, not for the reaction they might get. And what about some of the less than laudatory reactions they’ve received?
“I love [them],” Iwers says unequivocally. “It only shows what we do that we don’t listen to any body else when it comes to writing music. We only care about what we feel and what we wanna do.
“I think that [attitude] makes sense because some people still seem to appreciate our music and come to the shows. So I really, couldn’t be happier. I can look at myself in the mirror and say ‘I did this because I wanted to’, not because someone else told us to. And it worked.”
How does Peter fit into the songwriting process? He breaks it down for us:
“Well, what I try to do is to be in the middle of the guitars and drums so I try to play according to the riffs that they do.
“But at the same time, I want to be focused on the kick and snare and be a tight bass player. I don’t really have any favorite bass players but I have a favorite band when it comes to the rhythm section; Queensrÿche
was always amazing. I try to approach it like this: I want to be everywhere, but I want to do it tastefully.” And that’s all one can hope for as an “elder statesman” of the Gothenburg sound.
In Flames, alongside Dark Tranquillity and the late, great At the Gates are routinely credited with establishing the Gothenburg scene of melodic death metal but don’t view themselves as the progenitors of a huge renewal of interest in heavy metal as a whole.
“Yeah, its really cool [that happens],” he muses. “[but] in the last six or seven years or so, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity
sound nothing alike. We both started with the melodies and stuff but we both evolved in different directions. The only thing we have in common now is that we’re both from Gothenburg.”
I ask whether the Gothenburg sound is shaped by its innovation rather than its raw “sound” created in the past. Iwers waxes nostalgic.
“Well, when we all first started, everybody was helping one another out; if one band was playing, the other guys were supporting or just working there as roadies. I think all that stuff is the Gothenburg scene. I think that’s what we all had in common.
“There was no competition; At the Gates was the first band to get out of Gothenburg to get a spot on the big tours and get on a big label – they were a huge inspiration for everybody.
"Everybody [was] great friends, but [at the same time] everybody was aiming to achieve that level [of success] as well. That’s what kicked us all in the arse to keep on going.”
And the kick certainly had a cascading effect, with In Flames now dominating the scene since those nascent days. Interestingly enough, the success hasn’t gotten to the heads of the members, keeping a relatively stable line up and a healthy band dynamic as Iwers says:
“Its because we feel really secure together; I know inside-out what the guys are going to play or how I’m going to play according to Daniel [Svensson]’s drums.
“We have a great dynamic like that and we’re really happy together.”
Originally published in Buzz Magazine, December 2008. © Tom Valcanis / Crushtor Media Services. All Rights Reserved.