Niclas Engelin of In Flames takes us through Album Number 12, Battles

Since their inception in 1990, melodic death metal gods In Flames have shaped the sound of heavy music, thrashing us with an ever-evolving sound that remains distinctly their own. On the verge of releasing their twelfth full-length album, we caught up with guitarist Niclas Engelin to discuss the immensity and inspiration of their impending release, Battles.

Although touring and playing with In Flames in previous years, Niclas only became a permanent member in 2011, replacing Jesper StrömbladBattles is his first time involved in the band’s songwriting. “This was actually my first time writing songs and contributing to the album… it was a really fun process,” his excitement about their new album is palpable. And it’s totally understandable, with Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The Used) ‘masterminding the production’.

“I’m really excited; when you work on something for so long, when you get the skeletons of the songs, and you do demos of those songs, and rearrange it, you start recording it [with the producer], and then you mix it and master it – you have been living with the songs for so long,” Niclas discloses, laughing. “It’s actually nice to have a break from them.”

Perpetually trying new sounds and approaches to their music, this release is expected to be no different. “Siren Charms was recorded in Berlin and this one was recorded in LA during Spring. You couldn’t have had a more perfect recording. The whole spirit, the whole vibe of the album is positive,” he explains. “I think [it’s] seen through the whole process, because we started writing at home and then [went] to LA, and we continued to write for almost the whole recording.”

In Flames’ confident, technical brutality undulates across the album, with Ander Fridén’s distinctive vocals unifying the riffs and anthemic grooves. The epic “Wallflower” is an undeniable highlight off the album, a testament to the relaxed and lengthy writing process. “I came up with “Wallflower” pretty late in the recording sessions; it was inspiring to have that window open. That may sound a little bit artsy-fartsy, but we had to have that window open.”

Niclas finds a lengthy writing process and music inextricable. “I think you write unconsciously, writing takes inspiration from everything. I’m very inspired by my environment, and people along the way. So that makes it interesting, and [natural] to come up with song ideas, because you’re writing all the time. You’re never off the bicycle, so to speak – you’re always unconsciously thinking [in] music.”

“You never know what you get from an In Flames album. You know that it’ll be metal and there’ll be guitars, but not how the whole package sounds.” Personally, I’m already converted with Battles – it’s a mature display of the band’s technical gifts and songwriting talents, and a natural progression. I asked Niclas to give his take on how the album sounds. “Positive. Sunny. Still hard-edge, heavy metal. But positive.”

Battles, the twelfth full-length album from In Flames, is out now. – check it out for yourself, and see if you feel the sunshine-vibes, which is not a way I’d ever expected to be describing a metal album.



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