Review Summary: The Swedish titans have a radical musical turn. But is it a turn in the right direction?
In Flames. A band who were my favourite band for some time. However, since their decision to cancel a whole British tour (of which I had bought tickets for) grated me slightly they went down in my estimation, only to later climb back up after I listened to this album. Yes, it really IS good. Despite what those die hard fans may tell you.
In Flames became popular before this album for Melodic Death Metal. They're intertwining guitar tunes and growled lyrics put them at the forefront of the Gothenburg metal scene. Clayman, their album before this, for many represented both the defining moment for the band and also the end of their melodic death metal sound. Songs such as "Only For The Weak" on this album were flirting with the keyboard and 'techno' sound they would adopt later on. However, on Reroute To Remain, the band completely rewrote their musical direction. A lesser band would fail miserable at this, but it somehow works for In Flames.
Yes, that's right, I for one enjoy this new direction for this band. Many fans would hate this new direction but for a band to play the same style for as long as IF have would surely become boring for them. This is both a reinvention and a statement of intent from the Scandinavian screamers. It reinvents their sound but also shows what is to come. This album, unlike STYO, hits the nail on the very heavy head. Opener and title track, Reroute to Remain, opens on that techno sound I was mentioning earlier. From this moment, you know you're in for a different listening experience. But In Flames 'never make the same album twice'. It takes a while to adjust to this new sound. Fans of the old style may turn away completely, but the fact of the matter is that the IF sound is still there. It's just a little more subtle this time around. The guitar melodies are present on tracks such as "Dark Signs" and at least Anders is still screaming for the most part.
One defining feature for this album is that the single are some of the highpoints of the album, whereas most bands would release lesser songs. 'Trigger' is perhaps the most catchy song of the album. Both the very catchy chorus and guitar melody grip you and the whole song is also brutal for the most part. 'System' as a surprisingly anthemic chorus that you could imagine filling arenas. Yes, you heard me correctly, In Flames are now using 'clean' vocals in their songs! 'Cloud Connected' is much like the opening title track in its structure and sound, but its still an enjoyable effort on this album. Perhaps the only 'filler' tracks on this album are 'Dawn of a New Day' and 'Free Fall', the former of which is basically the opening riff of 'Trigger' slowed down and played 'acoustic' (albeit with echo effects in place too), the latter being just too heavily influenced by NU Metal.
The musicianship is again sound, with all the instruments playing a part in the overall sound and complimenting each other well. Bjorn and Jesper get their obligatory guitar moments and Peter is consistent and competent on the skins. Anders actually has a decent enough sounding voice for the melodic and clean parts of the album and his screaming is as effective as it always was. In fact, in many ways his singing is reminiscent of one Jonathan Davis.
Perhaps this will excite new listeners, but it is debateable whether or not this will bring in the seasoned fans of the band. Whereas it won me over, many may feel it is a sign of the band 'seeling out'. However, In Flames still have the beating heart of their sound intact and still seem to be into their music for the right reasons. This album is a vast departure from the sound of old but it is also a welcome one, showing a new side and a new direction for the band. A thoroughly well produced album, as always, and a signal of intent for their later albums.
Like it or not, In Flames are still creating music which the fans like, be that new or old fans. At the end of the day, good music is good music. And it may be vastly different, but this is still good music, and I would expect nothing less from the Swedish titans.
Songs to download:-
Reroute to Remain