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With five minutes left till the start of show, the seemingly endless line of die-hard fans that wrapped around Hawthorne Theater showed no signs of ending.  Swedish Melodic Metal progenitors, In Flames were in Portland, Oregon to promote their latest album, I, The Mask, on their 2019 Winter Tour with the epic American rock quartet RED and Canadian Metal prodigies, Arrival Of Autumn along for support.

It’s no easy feat opening the night for a band with such a prolific, genre-defining career such as In Flames,  but Arrival Of Autumn got the show started with a fierce start concreting themselves very quickly as a force in extreme music.  The band, stemming from a small isolated city in Northern Canada, have very quickly made a name for themselves globally.  After two self-released albums, they caught the attention of renowned producer, Jason Suecof who took on their latest album, Harbinger, their first release with Nuclear Blast Records.  As the show began, the lights in the venue took on a blood red hue and Jamison Frieson’s vocals, both guttural and melodic led the charge for the band’s merciless onslaught.  Blindsided by Arrival Of Autumn’s unassuming guitarist, Brendan Anderson’s impressive technical and melodic sensibilities on the fretboard, the front line of fans hugging the barricade stood in stunned disbelief during their ferocious performance of “Witness”, the band’s latest single.  Sharing vocal duties with Frieson, guitarist, Ryan Sorenson, complimented Anderson with an aggressive edge and sharp riff attack.  And with bassist, Kevin Student and drummer, Ty Fox laying down the foundation for their auditory assault, these Canadian hopefuls are sure to carve a solid future for themselves in Extreme Metal.

Epic and endearing, RED, the Grammy-Nominated, American-Christian rock band, towered over the audience on two risers celebrating the release of their latest EP, The Evening Hate as well as the 10 year anniversary of their second studio album, Innocence & Instinct.  The quartet from Nashville, Tennessee stepped confidently on stage and vocalist, Michael Barnes grasped the mic with both hands instantly taking command of the audience with the opening track, “Fight Inside”.  The band, RED is no stranger to wearing their Christian faith on their sleeve and their lyrics often vocalize inward struggle and a timeless search for solace in oneself. Brothers, guitarist, Anthony Armstrong and bassist, Randy Armstrong, as well as drummer Dan Johnson were headstrong and unified performed songs from their 17 year legacy.  Their heavy hitting, fan-favorite, “Breathe Into Me” was a fitting and glorious end to RED’s dedicated performance.

For over 25 years, Swedish metal legends, In Flames,  have been reinventing themselves with every album release and they show no signs of slowing down.  Although the ever-evolving godfathers of Melodic Death Metal have weathered numerous line-up changes throughout the years and a noticeable stylistic shift in their songwriting, they’re latest release I, The Mask,  is just as powerful an album as anything they’ve created in this latest evolution of the band.  Their performance of “Cloud Connected”, the first track off Reroute to Remain showed that the Swedish band’s celebrated vocalist, Anders Fridén is just as potent and ferocious as ever.  Guitarists, Björn Gelotte and special guest of Megadeth fame, Chris Broderick led a brutal and astonishing melodic dual-guitar attack throughout the night.  Along with drummer, Tanner Wayne and bassist, Bryce Paul, In Flames played songs for nearly two hours with selections from their latest release, I, The Mask all the way back to their early albums, Whoracle and Lunar Strain.

As the forefathers of a timeless genre of extreme music, In Flames have proudly taken this role with open arms.  For nearly three decades the Swedish Metal legends have been carving a new path for themselves while paving the way for generations of musicians to follow. Don’t miss your chance to witness this metal phenomenon on tour in a town near you!

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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