Baroque acoustic strings popped up a lot in the early melodic death metal days, and the fiddle intro to "Starforsaken" is a sparkling moment in that tradition. The song's overshadowed by "Behind Space" in the band's history, but quality-wise, it's the better Lunar Strain artifact.
Honorable mentions: "Behind Space," "Clad in Shadows," "Upon an Oaken Throne"
The album that O.G. IF fans and cranky purists defend more than any other album works best as a whole, but the title track jumps out as the centerpiece. It's got everything The Jester Race does well—riffs that chug densely, then dance lightly; brilliant '96-time-capsule solos; a sort of mythological-realm atmosphere—plus an Anders Fridén vocal performance unusually passionate and clear for the era.
Honorable mentions: "Artifacts of the Black Rain," "Moonshield"
On what may be In Flames' most perfect record, it's an exceptionally close call between this one and the very similar "Episode 666." The slightly grander nature of "The Hive"—and its exuberant solo—gives it the top spot.
Honorable mentions: "Episode 666," "Gyroscope," "Jotun"
If there's one song that rises out of the perfectly glued-together Colony, it's its title track. "Embody the Invisible" is equally sharp, but lacks this one's timeless, give-you-chills-every-time end result. "Colony" is also a touchstone, in structure and mood, reflected in tons of ambitious songs that would appear on subsequent albums.
Honorable mentions: "Embody the Invisible, "Zombie Inc."
Sometimes it's lame to pick the single as the best song; sometimes, though, you have to recognize the single's power as the true leader of the pack. "Trigger" may feature In Flames' coolest chorus of all time, and the whole four-minute package is just so well-wrought. Reroute's a supremely tough album to be the best song on, too.
Honorable mentions: "Dismiss the Cynics," "Black & White," "Reroute to Remain," "Dark Signs"
The guitar tones on Soundtrack might be the most potent of IF's run so far, and nowhere is their variety and pitch-perfection showcased better than the song that served as the band's live closer for years. (Replacing it with Come Clarity's "Take This Life" has always been and always will be a joke. Good song, wrong closer, grievous overestimation of career significance. Who cares if it was in Guitar Hero?)
Honorable mentions: "Dead Alone," "Dial 595-Escape,"
Why this ever got nixed as the album's title track, we'll never understand. One of the fieriest screaming performances of Anders' career, anchored by a ridiculously great chorus, propelled this to the top of the pile pretty quickly after the disc dropped.
Honorable mentions: "Reflect the Storm," "Come Clarity," "Dead End," "Our Infinite Struggle"
The super-anticipated follow-up to Come Clarity arrived with a remarkable range of dynamics in the majority of its songs. "Sleepless Again" just does it a little better than the rest, with a slightly livelier pulse.
Honorable mentions: "Alias," "The Mirror's Truth," "Delight and Angers," "March to the Shore"
Sounds is so consistent it can start to blend together. This supersized composition stands out for its old-school guitar harmony intro, gentle intermission and enormous finish.
Honorable mentions: "Darker Times," "Sounds of a Playground Fading," "Where the Dead Ships Dwell"
Ten years ago, Anders sang "Come Clarity" for his daughter. Now he's followed it up with one for his son. It's an extremely close call between this one and album-opener "Drained" as Battles' best, but the emotional punch on "Here Until Forever" gives it the edge despite being a tiny bit less adventurous. It's also got the most simultaneously subtle and effective chanting-crowd chorus on an LP full of 'em.
Honorable mentions: "Drained," "The End," "Battles," "Save Me"
Below, stream/subscribe to our Best Song on Every In Flames Album playlist: