Review Summary: Let me tell you a story about redemption.
Reading through the press release for Foregone
, its message was clear: In Flames are the same ‘New Wave of Swedish Death Metal Architects’ they’ve always been, and despite subsequent musical shifts, they still have it in them to do it again. The pre-release singles only reinforced that message. Initial single “State of Slow Decay” was a shocking throwback to the furious sounds of Colony
with a modern chunky guitar sound, classic In Flames melodies, frenzied percussion, and even some guttural death growls. Yes, the momentum-killing few seconds of clean singing are entirely out of place, but it’s a brief stumble in an otherwise stellar song – and just like that, it looked like In Flames were finally embracing their past.
The ensuing two singles – “The Great Deceiver” and “Foregone Pt.1” – followed suit with more classic In Flames riffs, melodies, and intensity. Even Anders Friden was contributing positively with a visceral vocal delivery that was only occasionally hampered by questionable clean singing choices. Admittedly, “Foregone Pt.2” was a step down as it was more of a modern In Flames song than the previous three singles despite the band attempting to honor songs such as “Moonshield” and “Gyroscope”. However, unlike a lot of their recent output, the clean vocals were decent, the music was compelling, and their new drummer (making his recording debut) made everything sound more urgent and powerful. It might not have been the second coming of the band’s classic sound, but it was certainly better than anything they had done in the last twenty years. It turns out the initial singles were essentially a microcosm of Foregone
as a whole.
combines the energetic aggression and melodic execution of In Flames’ classic releases with the mainstream influences of the last decade, and it’s the best thing they’ve done in a long time. Opening with an instrumental acoustic piece that sounds as though it was lifted directly from The Jester Race
is a homage to a bygone In Flames era that doesn’t disregard all the work the band have put in since. Along with four of the five first singles, there’s songs such as “The Great Deceiver” which are full homages to the Colony
era; full of thunderous percussion, hyperactive riffing, visceral vocals, and huge melodic leads.
Alternatively, there’s also more modern songs such as “Pure Light of Mind” which channels Whoracle
-era melodies through the band’s current formula with excellent results. Even though “Pure Light of Mind” features clean singing almost exclusively, it still manages to sound compelling and heavy while also featuring an exceptional vocal performance and huge hooky chorus. It is worth noting, however, that while their new drummer shines throughout the album, guitarist Chris Broderick’s (ex-Megadeth / ex-Nevermore) talent is entirely wasted, which is a shame.
The last time I felt anticipation for an In Flames release was during the build up to Come Clarity
, and it ended in disappointment. Like Foregone
, those press releases hinted at a return to the band’s classic era, but it never really panned out – that’s not the case this time. On Foregone
In Flames have injected their modern sound with the visceral heaviness and majestic melodies that have been lacking for years, and even Anders Friden has stepped up his clean singing while also returning to a harsher vocal style. With the release of Foregone
, In Flames have shown they do still have the same fire that made their classics so good, and they have done so without totally abandoning the sound they’ve been cultivating over the last few decades.