Review Summary: Sometimes the fence is a pretty safe spot to sit; you see a lot.
Gothenburg based In Flames have had a fairly decent run. With eleven studio records and an instant surge (and slow drop) in popularity the question would be when and if the band would release an album that progressed into simple regression resulting in a steady disappointment in long-time fans. I'll admit Siren Charms
is far away from what these guys are (at the very least) capable of, but it's not an unexpected release from a band moving towards a more commercially accessible setting. Siren Charms
is a typical "journeyman" album full of steady hooks and completely predictable cliché, further cramped by a mismatched production and recyclable ideas. It's good, but unfortunately, a whole lot of nothing more.
At times, it's hard not to compare this to the band's greater albums, but after twenty years of music In Flames have faltered, misstep-ping here and there, only to recycle, appeasing a more mainstream audience with their groove based metal. With all this regression it's a wonder that Sounds Of A Playground Fading
was the "success" it was. Despite the earlier records' failings, the album had its share of quality song-writing and the lyrical genius of "The Attic" will go wildly underrated. Regardless, the new day In Flames is not as bad as first impressions create.
You've already heard me say that Siren Charms
is not as great as it could have been, there's no denying In Flames have let certain facets of their music slide. The record's biggest problems come in its production and an unwillingness to fully flesh out instrumental ideas. For most, the instrumental work is the biggest pull the band has, but if you listen closely you can hear riff patterns from the previous two records piled onto this newest effort. The notes may be different but unfortunately the copy/paste of muted pick work and rhythmic leads sound way too similar to be dismissed as a band doing what they do. Sure enough they do the job here, intertwining minor chords with lick after lick, ensuring there's enough going on here for die-hard fans to reminisce about early In Flames, but it's not enough to lift Siren Charms
to dizzying new heights. When taken at face value, In Flames' 2014 release showcases a simple and catchy use of hooks, strained cleans and unconventionally 'metal' vocals that won't please everyone, but manage to suit this album more than they should.
Despite all the negativity presented, it's hard to imagine Siren Charms
being any less of the commercially viable, almost radio friendly record it is. Highlights emerge in the shape of "Paralyzed" and the album's first released single "Through Oblivion". Catchy choruses transcend the shoddy production values and muffled rhythmic clarity often found on the band's other records. This shows Siren Charms
as a sing a long record, with the occasional dose of "cheese" that would normally be frowned upon. Take "Through Oblivion's" line of: "Having nothing and everything, at the same time
." The line itself is cringe-worthy but for the most part it's hardly noticeable. The rest of the album (including the title track) follows this simple formula of song-writing, filling the album instead of creating more interest for the listener. For those looking for some of that older aggression the band sometimes showcases, "When the World Explodes" is about as heavy as the album will get. The track itself suffers from some rather lack-luster female vocals, and would be so much better without them. Sure, it provides a sense of contrast but at the cost of what would have been one of the album's better tracks.
Overall it's great to hear more music from this Gothenburg five piece, even if some of the ideas here aren't fully fleshed out. Siren Charms
has its moments, but not a lot of them. For most long-time fans the album will come as a misstep in the boys' careers, soon to be forgotten and played rarely. For those new to the twenty-plus year old band, Siren Charms
is a pretty accessible place to start, before moving into the group's other works. As it stands, In Flames' 2014 release is good, and nothing more.