Review Summary: My condolences to any and all die-hard fans of Gothenburg’s original sound who suffered through this.
There was a sickness that rapidly began permeating the airwaves in the mid 2000s, flying under the banner of gothic/industrial metal, yet having a bit more in common with the bumbling nu-metal/mallcore tendencies of Korn and Deftones. Actually, both of said bands have been helping to propagate this odd notion of synthesizer driven industrial music with groovy, hypnotic chug riffs that are about as somniferous as a gallon of warm milk. There is no quicker way to get noticed by the snot nosed legions of the music video hipster crowd than a few good over-processed guitar groove riffs and a whinny vocal display with occasional hints at pseudo-tough guy shouting. And in much the same fashion as Machine Head did earlier in the decade, In Flames seems to have elected to jump on the bandwagon and beat the trend leaders at their own game.
“Soundtrack To Your Escape” is a really bad exercise in stylistic fence straddling that makes “Reroute To Remain” look good by comparison. While the same annoying combination of poorly realized pseudo-death screams and pretty boy emo clean singing is revolting the ears, the band has really decided to put the keyboards up in the mix and have come out with something that borderlines on rave music at times. Further compounding the issue is the band’s desire to give off some semblance of still being metal influenced, particularly in the vain of a somewhat diligent metalcore outfit, and have come up with something that is still somewhat complex and guitar happy, though not quite so much in the traditional melodic form of before. What really separates this from the usual drudgery heard out of today’s mainstream acts is that there are about 3 times as many groove riffs, but sadly quantity does not necessarily lead to quality, nor does complexity for that matter.
Ultimately, there are a couple of songs on here that seem to desire a more metallic audience, but otherwise the dimensions of this are a singular one where mid-tempo land and flat rhythmic chugging are the rule of the day. “In Search For I” remembers the speed that was there in the days of “Colony” and makes the most regular use of guitar harmony amidst the percussive tendencies of the song. There’s a few electronic sections where one almost feels like an Evanescence song sneaked into the play list with Friden’s bratty bellowing still blaring through the vocal tracks. “Superhero Of The Computer Rage” is also somewhat good in a semi-thrashing way, and keeps cooking fairly consistently. But apart from this an a few token fast sections littered in a few other songs, there is little reason to even fake at raising the horns, and probably a lot of reason to put black nail polish and eyeliner on while cursing the day you got your Y chromosome.
If nothing else, this is an album that ensures everyone that, contrary to the ponderings of a few wacky avant-garde philosophers, that contradictions can not exist in reality. A duck doesn’t become a guinea pig if you put a little fur coat on it, a cadaver doesn’t spring up to life from snake oil, and mallcore doesn’t sound good if it’s packed to the brim with more active guitar lines. No changing of the vocal guard would have saved this confused pile of commercial pandering, nor would increasing the number of guitar solos cure the inherent vapidity of the music supporting Anders’ depressed teeny bopper soliloquies. People like to joke about this being an album to escape from, but in reality it’s a failed attempt at escaping responsibility in putting out something worth listening to. My condolences to any and all die-hard fans of Gothenburg’s original sound who suffered through this.