Ah In Flames
, never have I seen a band that has managed to conjure up such a divided opinion. Most metalheads will agree that their first few albums are classics but since the release of Clayman
most metalheads seem to profoundly dislike them. I guess this is understandable, they did drastically change their sound and managed to piss off most of their core fan base in the process but for the most part I find some of the criticisms to be completely unjust. Yes they did change their sound but you can't condemn an entire album based on a difference in style, at least listen to the god damn album before actually commenting on it retards. Anyway
here's something that never ceases to completely confuse and bewilder me, another band has changed their style drastically, went from producing classic extreme metal to a much more alternative style with hardly anything in common with their first two albums yet they still receive good reviews; Katatonia
. If you listen to Dance of December
Souls and Brave
Murder Day and then listen to lets say Viva Emptiness
you'll notice a HUGE change, yet for some reason metalheads haven't been bashing on them, don't get me wrong I love Katatonia
but when one band changes their style and gets a tonne of shit whilst another one changes and still receives the up most praise my bull shit siren goes off. The hate levelled at new In Flames
is completely unjust and pathetic whining by a bunch of butt hurt fans who can't accept change even if a large some of money was handed to them. Anyway
rant over onto the review.
Okay honestly I don't think new In Flames
would get half the flack if Anders hadn't changed his vocal style. In my humble opinion this is where most of the hate comes from, and I'll be honest his new style isn't as good as his previous approach but he's far from terrible. He actually can sing, he may not be on the same level as Tarja
Turunen or Rob Halford
but he's far from being the worst. His harsh vocals have also received a truck full of hate, honestly I can see where they are coming from, he does this sort of half scream-singing thing that can get monotonous and lacks a defined sense of power but I've certainly heard worse vocal styles.
Now onto the instrumentation. This album is far less riff oriented than The Jester Race
and is more rhytmn based. The melody is still there, more or less just not as spectacular as their early releases, the melody is much more stripped down and there is a higher focus on being catchy and accessible (not what extreme metal should aim for!). I especially like the intro riff for the track I'm The Highway
it's just catchy as hell but other than that there's nothing really that makes me stop and go “wow that's really something” like I did frequently with their earlier outputs. Solos also have a bigger role than their other post- Clayman
releases, although they may not be the most technically profecient solo's I have ever heard but they're plenty enjoyable and add to the album. I also like the fact that clean guitar interludes are still a part of their sound, they haven't completely lost it! They add to the diversity and the enjoyment factor of the album. They may not be on par with those of lets say Dissection
(don't even know why I'm comparing the two bands to be honest) but I think they're well written.
This album shows MASSIVE improvements to the new In Flame
's formula, everything just feels much more comfortable and much less contrived. The groovier guitar riffs are much more developed and well written, the vocals have been improved consistently and this is easily his best performance of the new era, say what you want about Anders but you can't deny he's gotten better within the style, surpisingly he actually adds a few death growls throughout, unfortunately they're not very prevalent but it's good to see them going back to their roots! The electronic elements don't feel as out of place as Soundtrack to Your Escape
, in fact they actually work. In Flames
likes to experiment, I mean they really like to experiment, they're newer albums always appear to have that one song, that stands out, the black sheep if you will that is drastically different than the rest of the album. The Chosen Pessimist
is that song, it has a noticeable soothing, emotional presence about it, they're are no harsh vocals featured on this one and it is dinstictly ballad like (one section actually reminded me of the post-rock band Her Name is Calla). This song would be much better off at the end, as a closer rather than an interlude, it sounds out of place and wrecks the consistency of the album, something the new In Flames
just can't seem to get right. Honestly I think they should focus on how everything sounds together rather than individually, my friend summed it up best, he said it works better as individual songs rather than as a whole album and to an extent I am inclinded to agree with him.
Overall a massive improvement, In Flames
have finally settled into their new sound and have released something that is well and truly excellent and deserving of praise. I would go as far as to call this their best album since Clayman
. There are still a few flaws that need to be worked out, but they're only minor and are more of a matter of degree rather than negative criticism. There is plenty to enjoy this album and it will inevitably continue to thouroughly piss off the old fans, those who have a taste for the new In Flames
will find much to enjoy. It may not be perfect but is a very good release and the best of the new era, this album is a must have for fans of their newer style.
Overall rating- 17/20
Stand out tracks- The Mirror's Truth
, I'm The Highway
(the intro riff is fucking killer), Delight and Angers
, Drenched in Fear (mainly for the death growls and level of intensity) & March to the Shore (same reasons as the previous track.)
After thought- If In Flames
continued to work at the standard present on the last two tracks then they easily have the potential to release something on par with the standard set by the early releases. I love that style and I hope to see them continue it in the future.