Guitarist Jesper Strömblad has officially quit Swedish metallers IN FLAMES. He says in a statement, "I have decided it is best for me to leave IN FLAMES and to quit the band permanently.
"The last 17 years have been a blast, and I am proud to have been part of this great journey, with the most talented and amazing people anyone can wish to have the privilege to work with. I'm also the luckiest guy in the world, to have the BEST fans in the world, who have been supporting me during my difficult times. It means the world to me, and I'm determined to fight and defeat my demons once and for all…. and by the help from you guys, I'm on my way.
"I'm far from done with music, metal, or whatever my direction is taking me, so be sure to hear from me in the future."
The remaining members of IN FLAMES have released the following statement regarding Jesper's decision to leave the band:
"We are losing a great guitar player and musician, but in order to keep a very dear friend this is probably for the best. If this feels right for Jesper, we are behind him 100% on his decision.
"It is way too early to speculate about the future and possible replacements and things like that. However, we can assure you that IN FLAMES will continue as a band, release albums and tour the world.
"The door to IN FLAMES is always open to Jesper. We are, and will always be, behind Jesper 100% on his way to recovery."
Wearing a "Rehab Is For Quitters" shirt, Strömblad — who checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic early last year in order to receive treatment for his alcohol addiction — rejoined IN FLAMES on stage on December 11, 2009 at Hovet in Stockholm, Sweden for the last two songs of the group's set, "Take This Life" and "My Sweet Shadow". The band performed the tracks as a six-piece, with Strömblad's temporary replacement, Niclas Engelin from the Swedish band ENGEL, playing alongside Jesper.
The sold-out show was attended by 8,335 people, making it IN FLAMES' biggest headlining show ever.
Fan-filmed video footage of the concert can be viewed below.
Engelin had helped IN FLAMES on a couple of occasions in the past and is no stranger to the band's songs or the touring life.