In Flames Guitarist Recalls First Reaction to Dream Theater: ’Musicianship Was Fake, It’s Not Possible!’

Music Radar and In Flames guitarist Björn Gelotte recently teamed up to discuss albums that changed his life. With a total list of ten records, Björn looked back on some of the music that made a huge impact on him while he was growing up.

Among these albums was also Dream Theater’s legendary “Images and Words” which came out in 1992 and is considered one of the most influential prog metal releases. Discussing it, Björn said:

“It was a friend who was not into metal at all who showed me this. I think his older brother had the album or something, and when I heard the ‘Metropolis’ that is on ‘Images And Words.’ I had never heard anything like it.”

In fact, Björn was so blown away and thought that such playing was impossible. He continued:

“I thought the musicianship was fake. Nobody plays like this. It’s not possible! But then I’ve seen them live and I have seen them play it and it is ridiculous, still, how good they are.

“I don’t even know where to begin. Everything on it is very tasty. It is nerdy to listen to but what people say, ‘You have to be a musician to appreciate it,’ is not true, because there are hooks, and it’s big, and there is so much to dig into.

“You can’t have it in the background. You have to be focused on it.”

Dream Theater - Take The Time [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Interestingly enough, ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” also found its way on Björn’s list. Recalling how he heard the album, he said:

“I’ll just go with some of the earlier records and one of them is Eliminator by ZZ Top. I didn’t think about it back then but it is most likely programmed drums on that one. The guitar sound is incredible. The way he played? I had never heard anything like that.

“Obviously, I was young. I was growing up with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and all that, so when Eliminator came along, his vocals along with the guitars really scratchy – it sounded amazing.”

ZZ Top - Got me under Pressure [HD] [Studio Version]

“It was one of the records that actually made me curious about guitar playing. I had never thought about it as a separate instrument. When you are young it is just music coming out at you.

“That one was really important. I think a couple of records here I picked up myself but this is all my dad’s collection in the beginning.

“They mix it beautifully with some keys and some samples in there. It just makes it really, really nice. I love the way it sounds with the bass.

ZZ Top - TV Dinners (Official Music Video)

“I was not so interested in the old stuff. It was bluesy. Everything was blues-based in my dad’s collection. But it didn’t really stick out until I heard Eliminator.”

Of course, for a metal musician like Björn and a band like In Flames, it’s impossible not to mention Van Halen and the almighty Eddie Van Halen. For him, it was “Van Halen II” that made a huge impact for a few reasons:

“The second album I’m thinking of is Van Halen II, and it was, again, an album where the guitar stands out – especially when listening to it on headphones because the mix is really epic.”

D.O.A. (2015 Remaster)

“The guitar is to one side and it’s just a weird mix. You have a delay and stuff on the other ear. You can really, really pick out the guitar, and you can hear his playing. It feels very right there and then. It’s almost a live feel to the guitar playing. ‘Somebody is doing this!?’ I started getting my head around that. I was very young at this point.”

There also has to be some Ronnie James Dio in there, especially if it’s with Ritchie Blackmore. An album like Rainbow’s “Rising” is highly influential to metal musicians, no matter the preferred subgenre. He looked back on this record by offering:

“I had a mix-tape that was really, really important to me and it had the first three Rainbow albums. Well, I made the mix-tape. My dad had the records. But it was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow ‘Rising’ and ‘Long Live Rock ’N’ Roll,’ ‘Gates of Babylon,’ and basically the whole of Rising – that is an incredible album.”

“That is when I started learning about harmonies and stuff, because the vocals and the guitar lines create magic on that record. It’s incredible. That combination of Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio, I haven’t heard anything since that hits me that hard.

“His voice is just… There are quite a few that are almost there. I mean, [David] Coverdale is incredible as well, back when he was really, really pushing it; early Whitesnake is awesome too but back then he was a different kind of singer. And Ronnie was at the absolute top.”

“Ozzy was great, extremely important for the genre and that band, but it wasn’t until Ronnie sang that I really got hooked. My dad was playing Black Sabbath all the time, awesome, all these songs, ‘Paranoid,’ we would cover them as a kid.”

A Light In The Black

“But it wasn’t until Ronnie was singing on them and the Rainbow records. Holy Diver was amazing but ‘[The] Last in Line’ was when I started playing in bands.”

“Today, it can feel very processed. It didn’t feel like that with the stuff Ronnie did – and most of the stuff you did back then where it wasn’t processed; it was takes and takes and takes. Like with Eddie’s guitar playing, it just had a flow to it, like it feels natural, like it was made right there and then.”

As of this moment, Swedish metal legends In Flames are gearing up to release their fourteenth album. Titled “Foregone,” it’s scheduled to come out on February 10 through Nuclear Blast. The record has a total of 12 tracks and five of them are already available on streaming services.


Photos: Alfred Nitsch (20170615-163-Nova Rock 2017-In Flames-Björn Gelotte), Andreas Lawen, Fotandi (Dreamtheater – Wacken Open Air 2015-1607)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.