Review Summary: In Flames continue their evolution from Melodic Death Metal to generic radio Metal with their most watered down release to date.
In 1985 Coca-Cola changed its classic formula and committed one of the greatest sins in the history of soft drinks: The New Coke. Soon after it's release, Coca-Cola pulled the “New Coke” and order was restored to the universe in the form of Coca-Cola Classic. But lets imagine if the head honchos at Coca-Cola never brought back the old formula. What would you do? Would you learn to love the New Coke? Would you switch to Pepsi? Or would you become bitter, angry, and vocal about your lack of control over your once favorite beverage? Swedish melo-death pioneers In Flames have taken that latter path and with mixed results.
With the release of A Sense of Purpose
, In Flames let us know exactly what they lack... A purpose. It seems as if In Flames went into the recording of A Sense of Purpose
with the same apathy and malaise that many of their fans have after listening to any post-Clayman
release.Which is strange because to me, "a sense of purpose" is what I thought they had found in Come Clarity
. With Come Clarity
it seemed that In Flames had regained their step after falling out of rhythm on Reroute To Remain
and Soundtrack to Your Escape
. While Come Clarity
was far from perfect, it saw a return to the speed and melody that embodied In Flames in their prime. But just like Reroute To Remain
and Soundtrack to Your Escape
, A Sense of Purpose
shows getting rid of what was intrinsically In Flames, the harmonies. Now in their place are hackneyed synth passages and down tuned nu-metal style riffing. In an attempt to grab the attention of the fans of nu-metal's corpse, In Flames have stuck it to their old fans, again.
Even at its best moments A Sense of Purpose
just screams of a band playing it safe. While tracks like "The Mirror's Truth" and "Alias" stand out from the rest of the album, they still seem like Come Clarity
B-sides. The rest of the album sounds like a rehash of itself. Sure, the songs are catchy, but they all run together and in the end I cant really tell them apart. Almost every song uses the same scream-sing-scream / heavy-soft-heavy structure that metalcore has been flogging to death for the last five years. I guess Victory records doesn't have a good distribution deal in Sweden, or else In Flames would know how banal and boring that writing style has become.
Anders Friden's lyrics and vocals have been progressively getting worse since the Clayman
era and on A Sense of Purpose
they reach a new low. His once powerful voice has been reduced to screaming such awful lines as “Oh I feel like shit but at least I feel something” in a frail, whiny, rasp. Anders' clean vocals sound like tired, feeble, whispers and for some reason are used frequently throughout the album. It just bewilders me that the man who sang on so powerfully on "Jotun" and "Food for the Gods" has been reduced to this.
I'm sorry to say it, but In Flames are out of any worthwhile ideas. They even admit it in the opening track of the album, "Without even trying" shrieks Anders on "The Mirror's Truth". At least he's being honest.