Review Summary: Unfairly maligned for being experimental, this album is actually an excellent and instrumental part of In Flames development as a band.
It is a dangerous thing indeed to try something different. Far more so if most of your following are dedicated to underground and the change happens to make your music more commercially viable. Still, it's what In Flames did, and for my money, it really didn't turn out too badly.
This was my first In Flames album, and while it is perhaps a lesser addition to their archive, it is by no means a failure. There are some great songs on here, and the atmosphere created was what provided the final link to Come Clarity, my favourite of their albums. The best example of this is My Sweet Shadow. The use of synths over the brilliant production and solid riffs makes the song much better than it would have been had the synths not been there. It provides a smooth contrast to the traditionally harsh In Flames sound.
Of course, this is going to have the effect of making the music easier to listen to, which will in turn make it more appealing to a wider audience. Along with Anders' new singing voice, this could well be seen as selling out. But it isn't, its development. First single the Quiet Place was hated for its lack of speed riffing and the fact that Anders sounded like Jonothan Davies. But, it was actually a really good song. Building up steadily, with a hugely effective intro riff and a hummable chorus, it fully deserved the extra cash raked in, as much as earlier stuff would have.
There are further examples. Touch of Red I feel has just as good a riff as any In Flames tune, whilst the chorus and verse are superb. Elsewhere, Borders and Shading and Dial 595- Escape are hugely underated. The spacious and all encompassing sound may be miles away from The Jester Race, but they are still good songs. Meahnwhile, Evil in a Closet proves a surprisingly good fist at a ballad (the promise of which would be delivered on the title track of Come Clarity) and In Search for I and (f)Riend are solid, if not amazing, returns to their early influences.
Perhaps this album can be viewed in more context now that Come Clarity has been released. While before it could have been seen as an attempt to sell out and abandon the people whose support had carried them thus far, now it can be seen as an essential stepping stone in development of a new sound. Before the lack of anything especially technical could have been seen as dumbing down to appeal to the nu-metal crowd. Now, it looks to me like just trying something different. Finally, Anders voice on the album can now be seen as developing into the proper singing voice that makes Come Clarity so special for a metal album.
Soundtrack to your Escape was an experiment, not a sell out. And while it may not have been classic, it was actually bloody good by most standards.