As riff-master general in Swedish metal titans In Flames, Björn Gelotte helped pioneer the melodic death metal sound in the mid-90s.
In Flames' sound has since undergone a profound evolution, but Gelotte's taste in guitars is unchanged. He's a Gibson Les Paul Custom man, hot-rodding them with EMG active pickups to bring clarity and power to down-tuned riffs.
His limited- edition Epiphone signature aims to make this huge tone available at an achievable price point. It's a bold ambition, but this guitar is now Gelotte's go-to instrument, and it takes something special to consign a proper Gibson Les Paul Custom to the subs' bench.
Gelotte's Custom is resplendent in an Ebony Black high-gloss finish, replete with gold hardware, block pearloid inlay and five-layer cream and black binding. A sturdy LockTone tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar coupled with Grover 'kidney bean' machineheads promise a steady ride. There's a thick '59-style mahogany neck that's a comfort and a joy to play.
A lunking, great slab of mahogany, the Gelotte Custom assuages any concerns that it might not be a 'proper' Les Paul. Sure, it's built in China, but Gibson DNA is all over this in tone, look and feel.
So, too, is Gelotte's. The classic Custom headstock inlay is tweaked to incorporate In Flames' jester mascot, while Gelotte's signature is emblazoned across the truss rod cover. A pair of active EMG humbuckers - a gold-plated 81/85 set from EMG's Metal Worksseries - provide the firepower, and the result is quite spectacular.
Epiphone's signature Les Pauls for the likes of Slash and Matt Heafy have shown the brand can deliver updates on a classic that are hugely playable and sound incredible. Gelotte's might just be the best of the bunch.
As expected, thick, commanding rock and metal tones are its bread and butter: the EMG 85 in the neck is a weapon for precise, high-gain leads, and a classic partner to the 81's full- throated bite. Cleans range from piano-ish clarity to light blues crunch; only when rolling back the tone do you lose a little definition.
There's warmth in its tone, too - an abundance of high-cholesterol, classic rock cream. It feels beefier than the likes of an LTD EC-401 or a Gibson Les Paul Studio - the former's slimmer neck is a marked contrast to the Gelotte Custom.