Of the many available titles, I have chosen to review The Jester Race because this appears to be the point in the band's career where they have decided that no matter what they do, they're going to somehow garner even more popularity and appeal to an even larger fanbase of mindless sheep that are eagerly awaiting to eat their crap with a golden spoon... and unremarkably, they've delivered. I hesitate to label The Jester Race the worst metal album of all time, just as I hesitate to label it the worst album in the band's discography, because either of those conclusions would imply that this album is worse than Whoracle or, say, Colony; two albums which I have developed a striking aversion to and that I believe are equally terrible in their own ways. The Jester Race is awful on an entirely different level though, because while Whoracle and Colony can possibly be written off as the band "experimenting" with different styles, The Jester Race is something of a mammoth accomplishment for In Flames - they have managed to convince many old time fans that the album is a return to form for the band; that it's a stronger In Flames; that they have redeemed themselves. I am completely baffled. I'm not going to bother doing a song by song analysis of this garbage, because every song is absurdly formulaic and pretty much the same. The formula works on some level, because I actually caught myself tapping my foot on numerous occasions while listening to this, and equally often I felt like I was supposed to be singing along with Anders Fridén - who, by the way, sucks here more than he has ever sucked before. His screaming brings to mind the last moments of a rabid ferret as its lungs are methodically ripped out through its throat, and his "singing" is on a level of emo that I cannot effectively put into words (which is actually fitting, since the lyrics match). The songs are chorus-driven and very catchy, but consequently amount to nothing more than really bad riffing, poppy and jumpy guitar melodies, and (as I mentioned earlier) sections where you will literally be compelled to look up the lyrics and start singing along. If this doesn't seem inherently bad, then I remind you that In Flames are considered a melodic death metal band, not a melodic pop-punk band. A few songs in particular stand out - "Graveland" kind of reminds me of a Machinae Supremacy track for the first 10 seconds or so, which is kind of cool, but it then turns into more or less total trash with a chorus featuring Anders singing " Burn the visionaire" in a voice of such soaring and majestic magnitude that it shouldn't have any problems serving as the anthem to the listener slitting his wrists. "Lord Hypnos" starts off slightly less than completely horrible, and then turns into an Evanescence song, with Anders actually harmonizing with the guest female vocalist in the chorus... I don't think much of it, but I guess it's something new for him. At around the 2:10 mark, the song features a guitar "solo" worthy of the poppiest of pop bands. "Dead Eternity" starts off with a riff that I think I probably came up with one day when I was around 14 years old, playing around with my first freshly purchased electric guitar in my mom's basement. Seriously, it made me cringe. The title track features a bunch of acoustic noodling, Anders singing in a processed and distant voice, and a ridiculously catchy chorus that will probably go down in history as a perfect example of what NOT to do if you're a band that's associated in any way with death metal. "December Flower" features a chorus that is... ugh... sounds like the guys found an anti-social high school freshman with sprinkles in his hair to perform guest vocals. Every other track is basically some combination of the above tracks. The biggest problem that I see with this album is the retarded juxtaposition of several disparate elements that should never, ever, ever be placed together in the same context. Any semblance of a cool riff is consistently destroyed by a sing-along emo chorus. Every attempt at a solo is crushed by the use of poppy melodies ripped straight from a Silverstein album. Every halfway decent roar from Anders is guaranteed to soon be drowned out by something that sounds like Korn's Jonathan Davis. For every good idea, there's something that comes along and completely nullifies it. Another problem with this album is the mixing/mastering job. It sucks. Bad. There's audible distortion in several areas, and the whole thing is just obscenely loud. Listening through the entire album is an exercise in monotony. Anyway, The Jester Race isn't a return to form for In Flames. In many ways, they've actually moved even further away from what originally made them a tolerable band, and I don't see them making any kind of effort to remedy that. This will probably be the last In Flames album I buy... but then again, I said the same thing about Lunar Strain.