Review Summary: Simplification begins to dominate In Flames' sound, resulting in their last quintessential record.
Just about everyone in the heavy metal community knows In Flames. Being among the noted melodic death metal triangle (alongside At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity), their influence was evident well before their eventual, infamous surge of popularity. Although albums such as Soundtrack to Your Escape
and Come Clarity
are often cited as their key points of transition (to nu metal/metalcore), they began driving this road as early as 1999's Colony
. Regardless, their greatest shift of musical styles can be found going from Clayman
to Reroute to Remain
. And though criticism of it and their successive works hasn't been completely unwarranted, Reroute to Remain
has since proved to be the band's last truly compelling studio release.
The ball is hit running with the title track, giving an almost cloud-effect sound after the comparatively harsh style which In Flames had come to be defined by. Anders Friden's growls have ultimately been replaced by modest screams, presumably to compliment the soft, relatively command-less guitar riffs. Reroute to Remain
is one of those select few albums where the art literally lets you know what the music will be like. The vague, mist-like overtone consistently defines each track and lends a smooth flow from start to finish, even with heavier points like "Transparent" preceding the slow, ballad-esque "Dawn of a New Day."
However, this debatably stale sound means that little to no room is available for standouts. While catchier, chorus-driven songs started to become prominent for In Flames on Reroute to Remain
, the production and overall tuning style results in a high level of restraint. Everyone in the band is in top form, but most moments throughout the album's moderate runtime aren't among their most memorable. It's a bit of a shame too, since the album actually includes some of the band's best songs from the past ten years. The aforementioned title track exhibits an almost contradictory style by sounding intense and unobtrusive, simultaneously. "Trigger," though adhering to a basic structure, still comes off as one of the band's more progressive-sounding pieces overall. Other moments, such as the climaxing solo and outro to "Minus" provide a wonderfully concussive blend of riffs and blasts; further wavered by the incorporation of synthesizers.
In Flames had already indicated that they'd be past their prime after releasing the enjoyable, through strictly solid Clayman
. But that didn't mean they were going to give us strictly unfulfilling material immediately afterwards. Ultimately, Reroute to Remain
comfortably sits in the middle of In Flames' discography. Almost nothing here rivals what we got treated to on The Jester Race
, but it blows away most of the almost shameless songs off of Soundtrack to Your Escape
and Come Clarity
. Subtle signs of aggression occasionally call out in a foggy collection of enjoyable, but relatively unimposing tracks.