I had always tried to stay away from death metal. The vocals just didn't work for me, and as a progressive/power metal fan, the death metal genre didn't hold a lot of appeal. That all changed for me when I saw In Flames perform live in 2001. They played with so much power and intensity, and the crowd was so involved, that I couldn't help but be impressed. So when I ran across a copy of their 1997 Whoracle a few weeks later, I decided to give it a try.
Whoracle was the band's fourth album, and is arguably their best work. The melodies are just insane, and combined with the thrashing riffs and Anders Friden's growls (man, I miss when he used to sound like this) just dominate the listener. You can't - not - get into this album. I had Whoracle on permanent rotation for the longest time, so I'm absolutely enthralled by every single track (yes, even the Depeche Mode cover), but my favorites are "Jotun," "Episode 666" and the ungodly stomping monster that is "Worlds Within the Margin."
Needless to say, Whoracle made me an In Flames fan and kicked open the door to many (many) future death metal purchases. Years later, I know there are bands that are more influential (At the Gates), more talented (Insomnium), or that I just plain like better (Dark Tranquillity), but if you were to ask me to name the perfect melodic death metal album, Whoracle is the answer I would give.
Edition Notes: Nuclear Blast issued a Deluxe Edition of Whoracle in 2005, adding the bonus track "Clad in Shadows `99" as well as the "Jotun" video clip and some additional multimedia content. European versions had an easily scratched foil cover, while the eventual US version did not.