1994's Lunar Strain was the debut release by Swedish melodic death metal legends In Flames. The band's helped define what is known as the Gothenburg style of melodic death metal, but in the early days they stuck pretty close to the formula At the Gates laid down. It's melodic, but much harsher and heavier than the band's later work. It's somewhat rougher too. In Flames was still coming together and hadn't finalized their lineup when this was released. Dark Tranquillity's Michael Stanne was enlisted as a guest vocalist for this album.
Lunar Strain isn't as essential as In Flames' later albums, but it's an important album and is still well worth hearing if you're a fan of the band or melodic death metal in general. Those who think In Flames got too accessible with The Jester Race and Whoracle: Reloaded will no doubt prefer Lunar Strain.
Edition Notes: Candlelight reissued Lunar Strain (and, separately, Subterranean) in 2005. The album has been digitally remastered (a real plus) and there are four bonus tracks. The bonus tracks are the band's 1993 demo recordings. They're interesting, but probably aren't anything you'll need to hear more than once. The liner notes are the most disappointing element of this reissue. There are no lyrics, nothing from the band on what was going on at the time, not even any songwriting credits.
Edition Notes 2: Lunar Strain was reissued yet again in 2009, this time by Regain. It's the same reissue as Candlelight's, only now it comes in a digipack.