Review Summary: In Flames stick to their mainstream direction and make an enjoyable record in the process.
Within the recent years of their careers, In Flames has become nothing more than a joke to most of their fans. Ever since Reroute to Remain
introduced their mainstream side, the Gothenburg’s fanbase have regarded them as nothing more than sellouts as they hid in the corners sucking at their thumbs while clutching at their copy of The Jester Race
. Let’s admit it; it’s been a tough road for the band in general as they’ve been toying at the different experimentations and sounds for the past five albums. Regardless how much the critics enjoyed them, In Flames has to deal with the constant complaining of the audiences of how much they suck. But even with that said, every single In Flames album (so far) has always had a way for people to enjoy it. Whether it’s the catchiness, the sound, or the vocals, there’s always something that will draw people to them, even if it costs them a few fans in the process, and Soundtrack to Your Escape
is no exception.
I’m going to say something that many Gothenburg fans are going to find blasphemous, and that is that I find Soundtrack to Your Escape
to be a solid record. True is does differ from their earlier work, even to that of Reroute to Remain
, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. If anything, the experimentation that this record creates brings out a more accessible and interesting product. In Flames takes risks in this without playing it safe at the same time. And while it may not be the greatest record that they’ve created, it’s one of the more intriguing ones to say the least.
The number one complaint on this album is quite possibly Ander’s vocals and admittedly enough, it is the oddball elephant in the room. They do have those irritating qualities that critics and fans love to poke at. The low growls never really bring out much emotion into the record nor do they contain much variety, especially when they are synced into the music. It doesn’t feel right nor does it even fit all that much into the music/sound overall. Another popular complaint is this record closely resembles the different and all too obvious nu-metal attributes, Anders vocals included. I can’t blame them for that since nu-metal is a hated genre overall, and nu-metal was huge by the time this record was released so many will claim that it’s not original enough to stand out among the rest of the musical world.
Despite this, the rest of the record brings out that dark and brooding atmosphere that In Flames tries to bring into this record. The heaviness of such tracks like “F(r)iend” and “Touch of Red” provide the energy while melodic pieces such as “The Quiet Place” and “My Sweet Shadow” provide the catchiness, two qualities that make this record. The mixture of the technical attributes and the guitars create the mysterious tone that the record sets up. And while Bjorn and Jesper may not be at their 100% most of the time, they still manage to bring out an immensely exhilarating and exciting performance throughout. Daniel Svensson is also at an unexpected best throughout the record as he keeps the energy alive and well as he keeps the beat throughout.
And while many will keep whining about the overall sound, it’s the one thing that gives Soundtrack to Your Escape
its uniqueness. It’s fresh yet mysterious, and it feels new despite having qualities that other bands have used before. And last but not least, it’s memorable. The catchy riffs, the melodies and the musicianship that the band creates: it all leaves a long lasting impression and it works in its own right.
Sure, older fans will most likely be turned away by this in less than a second, and it may not be as enjoyable as The Jester Race
, but what this record does is give In Flames more options and ideas to explore. The mainstream world isn’t a musical hell by any means, and Soundtrack to Your Escape
proves this. It’s strong, consistent, and memorable. It’s everything that metal record needs to be in order to succeed the bands goal, and perhaps expectations of the audiences.