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In Flames' track-by-track guide to new album Battles

Anders and Bjorn guide us through In Flames' new album Battles

Gothenburg legends In Flames are releasing their twelfth studio album Battles on November 11. Treading the line between bulldozer heavy and commercial melodics, it's not the sound of a band willing to rest on their substantial back catalogue. But what does it all mean? Here, frontman Anders Fridén and lead guitarist Björn Gelotte talk us through the new album from start to finish.

Drained

Anders Fridén (vocals): “We put a lot of thought into the way each album is built, we focus on the album not just the initial singles, and the dynamics between the songs has to be there. So there's a reason that Drained is the first track and so on.”

Björn Gelotte (guitar): “It sort of sets the mood for the album, it's a nice dark intro with a big chorus – which we like obviously. We recorded in LA and we brought a bag of riffs and then most of the songs were finished or arranged in that house. Drained is one of three songs we wrote in LA, each and every melody, so that makes it sort of special.”

Anders:Battles is about the struggles and inner battles we have waking up in the morning, from the day we start to think and feel when we're really young, until the day we die. There’s also a lot of stuff about dealing with your past and making sure it’s sorted in your head, so that you’re able to move forward. That song in particular is about something that I went through years and years ago in a bad relationship with someone; we went through a bad era and I hung around when I shouldn’t and it turned ugly. It’s important you deal with those issues so you can move on. Not being destructive and so on.”

The End

Björn: “It's the first track we actually showed people as we gave it a video; it's energetic, really guitar-heavy and I think in a good way it really summarises, not just this album, but In Flames generally.”

Anders: “It's about if you know you’re going to die – well everyone knows they are going to die, but if you have a little 'heads up', so to speak… Like, okay, you're going to die in five minutes, what are your thoughts? Are you happy with your life? Do you feel you've done everything you could? Do you want to relive it? And how important is it that we talk to each other and treat each other in a good way? It's sort of questioning, ‘Have we done everything that we could?’

“In today's society everything is so fast, it's like, 'Next one, next one, next one…' All we judge other people on is the way they look, the last vacation they've been on, the last beer they've had… with social media, what I want you to see is how happy I am, how great my life might be. It's very superficial and we never say, 'Dude, you're a really friendly person, you're good to me, I like the way you help others'. That's sort of where that inspiration comes from. Like the world is getting more and more hostile and that’s not where we should be.”

Like Sand

Anders: “It's about insecurity. You want to have everything – and that could be difficult. Even though I've done a lot of things and get all these praises and meet people who love what we're doing... that should be like, 'I'm done, I feel great, I don't need to do anything now, no one else has to tell me I'm good'. But I'm still fighting at some points with these insecurities; 'Is what I'm doing good enough?' I should just say, 'Fuck it', and most of the time that's how I think, but sometimes I'm drifting into this world of insecurity and I think that's very common. Sometimes you feel like Superman, sometimes the dog from Garfield.”

The Truth

Anders: “It's the other song we showed the audience prior to releasing the album and I think if The End has one side of us, The Truth has something else, though it's still very much In Flames.”

Björn: “It's at the other end of the spectrum in what we do. The other song is immediate, you get it – this one is related to stuff we have done in the past, all the way back to the first days, but in different clothes. And the videos are connected, you have to watch both to get the full story.”

Anders: “Lyrically it's about how the most honest thing we have is our kids, because they are not programmed…”

Björn: “...yet.”

Anders: “Right, yet. You are formed by the society and people you are around, what you see and what people say to you. It just mystifies me how can grown-ups can treat each other in the hostile way we do and at the same time look at our kids and, say…”

Björn: “...‘It's important to be nice’.”

Anders: “...and at the same time work on rockets that will take nuclear weapons into other countries. It's weird and destructive. How can we teach a younger generation when we act like dumbasses ourselves? Having kids – not saying that we are perfect… well [Björn] is a bit more perfect than me...”

Björn: “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Anders: “...we try to give them good values. I didn't have these thoughts before I had kids but I do now, looking at them and how much they absorb. You really have to be careful what you say and show them.”

In My Room

Björn: “This one was written really late. We felt there was something missing musically from the album.”

Anders: “Like most of the songs, we want to get to the point very quickly.”

Björn: “That was a song where we actually wrote the chorus at an early stage and wrote the song around that.”

Anders: “We let it rest for a little while and then went back to work on it. We never wanted to be a big epic band that write 20 minute long song of... space metal or whatever...”

Björn: “'Space metal'?”

Anders: “Ha ha ha. No, but we want to get straight to the point, write good melodies and this is a fine example I would say. Lyrically speaking... it's so easy to stay in your room in your little bubble, and complain about everything outside of that, but you're sort of not entitled until you go out into the world and take those battles yourself. That's a typical view on society, everybody knows better than everybody else. You think you say something good and then someone comes with a stick and says, 'You can't say that, it's wrong'. And we're so fast judging people.”

Before I Fall

Björn: “It contains one of the first riffs written for the album.”

Anders: “Written back at home... in your room ha ha. I remember Björn playing me the riff for part of the song and immediately going, 'This is it, this is the single', just hearing one riff. That's how I am, I get so blown away sometimes and attached to the riffs Björn is writing, I feel where the rest of the song is going immediately.”

Björn: “And it almost didn't end up on the record.”

Anders: “It was the last track 'in' to be honest, because we had eleven tracks which was what we planned, but as we said, it's important to have that dynamic on the album and we felt there was something missing, so we put it in there.”

Björn: “That maybe says more about the rest of the album, because this one felt immediate and right and almost did not end up on the album. Which is very positive.”

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Through My Eyes

Björn: “We always have one song like that, which is fast all the way through. Sometimes it's too easy in a way to create a really fast, energetic, aggressive song – we could probably do ten of those songs, but there's a big lack of dynamics in that. We love that obviously, we've done that all through our career, but [we felt], 'This album has so much more to offer, so we shouldn’t rush through it'.”

Anders: “That song is like 'In Flames Format 1A' ha ha.”

Battles

Björn: “That one came very late.”

Anders: “And it ended up being the title track. When I write the lyrics I don’t really know what I’m talking about ha ha, there’s so many thoughts, topics and feelings. So I have to step back and look at what I’m trying to say. I thought Battles was a short title that sounded good and was something everybody could relate to. Just as we're not trying to be a space rock metal band musically, we also can’t write about dragons or war or politics in a big way – it’s not us and why should I compete with someone who can do it so much better? I'd rather write something that people can relate to. In the past we had a lot of fans say, ‘Oh this song means a lot to me and got me through this and this’, and that’s super-rewarding, so I’m going to stick to that.”

Here Until Forever

Anders: “Another track that came late.”

Björn: “I wouldn't go so far as to say ‘ballad’, but that’s kind of what it is.”

Anders: “We did two slower tracks on the last album so we said, ‘Let’s do a slow song with an upbeat tempo’, because the drums in the verse is really upbeat and energetic. I was having the live environment in my head already and thinking about having this big chorus that people could sing their heart out to. I wrote the lyrics for Come Clarity – which I have tattooed – for my daughter when she was younger and my son saw this and asked, ‘Daddy can you write a lyric for me some day?’. I wasn't ready to write a lyric that was good enough, because if your son asks for a lyric it better be good as it will be there forever, but writing this one it came pretty quickly in the end. You won’t be like, ‘Oh this is for Anders’ son and that's it’, I think it can speak to someone you lost or someone you love or could be for whoever… but for me it’s super-personal.”

Underneath My Skin

Björn: “In the beginning it felt really dark and it’s interesting how it changed its audial appearance from the rough demos to being recorded properly. I’m amazed at the journey it took.”

Anders: “The verse is slightly different tone-wise now.”

Björn: “It’s not as ‘melodically-correct’ in a way. I don't know the terms, I’m not a very theoretical musician…”

Anders: “Put it this way, we know how to write In Flames songs, we don't know the theory to be able to talk about it!”

Wallflower

Björn: “Anders was talking about ‘space metal’ earlier… we felt the album needed something that wasn't ‘In Flames Format 1’ – quickly getting into the chorus and stuff – and wanted to have something that built all the way through the song to something big in the end. And that's what we did. So it starts off with something small, and we add instruments and sounds and stuff to make it sound – not to sound too cliché – a proper musical journey. We haven’t done a song like this since [2008’s] The Chosen Pessimist, and it's a format we wanted to try it again.”

Save Me

Björn: “That came really late as well.

Anders: “I already had the line, I sang it into the demo but in a different place, we had the idea, but not the format.”

Björn: “We had a chorus and we thought, ‘Yeah this is okay’, but it didn't feel right. So we re-worked the chorus a bit and all of a sudden we had the song.”

In Flames' new album Battles is out November 11, via Nuclear Blast.

Their new DVD Sounds From The Heart Of Gothenburg is out now.

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