Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
Certainly not their greatest, but unfairly criticised
on 20 November 2002
Leave it to my favourite band to cause a stir amongst their fans and create an album that, whilst in many ways is vintage In Flames, is also in many ways something quite different. It's evident from the beginning that this album has some surprises in store. Instead of opening with a killer guitar riff, like every In Flames album has previously, we are instead presented with a keyboard introduction, somewhat similar to Soilwork's latest album, Natural Born Chaos. In Flames? Keyboards? Interesting. I'm certainly not one to scoff at the use of keyboards when done well; just like any other instrument, although I'm sure this already has some In Flames fans balking. Indeed, the keyboards are reserved for the introduction alone here, and give way to the guitars pretty quickly. However, this is not the last you will be hearing of the keyboards on this album. Songs like the infectious, synth-pop influenced "Cloud Connected" use them quite heavily.
So what is the next big change? The vocals. Yes, Ander's high-pitched rasp is still ever present, perhaps showing some improvement over his Clayman performance, however he has now bitten the bullet and decided to try some full on cleanly sung vocals. Do they work? Yes, and no. On some songs they fit perfectly, adding a new dimension to In Flames not heard on previous releases. However I think I would be quite justified in saying that his vocals are far from perfect, and that at times, he doesn't sound entirely confident. It will also be interesting to see how they are pulled off live, as I have to admit, Ander's vocals are generally what I consider to be the weakest link in In Flames' live performance. Having heard a live bootleg of the second track "System", it would appear that Anders eschews the clean vocals in favour of growling his way through, which does leave you wondering, if you cannot perform the clean vocals live, why introduce them into your music at all? On record, "System" comes across as a modern In Flames classic...a fast chugging riff ala "Pinball Map", with a "new style" In Flames chorus. The vocal melody adds a whole new dimension to the track and the live version loses this. If this is how they are going to approach all of the new material, then their efforts may well have been lost.
I guess this review has been pretty negative so far. More negative than I was expecting this review to start off, so let's move on to the positive side of things. One of the major criticism's I have seen regarding this new album is that the album "isn't In Flames" and that there is no "In Flames of old" on this album. Comments like this really do make me wonder about the ability of some people to sit and listen to music properly, without having their views distorted by personal opinion. Tracks like "Dark Signs" and "Trigger" wouldn't sound out of place on Colony. Remove the vocals from "Dawn of a New Day" and you are left with an acoustic riff that would fit on to The Jester Race with ease. On top of that, there are Clayman-esque melodic-riffs scattered all over the place, in almost every song on the album. Could I listen to this without knowing what it was, and pick it out as an In Flames album? Most definately.
In Flames have made a bold move by releasing an album they so clearly wanted to release, and for that I have even more respect. They have merged a variety of influences to create their "experimental" album. Is that a nu-metal riff, one that would not sound out of place on a Slipknot album, that I hear at the beginning of "Transparent"? Why yes, yes it is. The cynics are already crying sell-out. Well "Dismiss The Cynics" (I think I would have failed as a reviewer if I didn't manage to slip that one in somewhere, heh) and try and be a bit more positive eh? I say, how refreshing to hear a nu-metal riff used in such a great way. And what about one of the standout tracks, "Metaphor". Why it's not even a metal song I hear you cry! Maybe not, but ain't it great? "Egonomic" is another deceptively different track...starting off like a typical thrashy melodi-death song, then all of a sudden you are thrown into one of the quirkiest, yet greatest choruses the band have written since "Coerced Coexistence". Another sure standout.
Now, let me be completely impartial here. This In Flames album will NOT be for every In Flames fan. Some of you will LOVE this. Some of you WILL HATE THIS, and I see no point in denying this. But if you have not heard it already, go out and buy it when it's released. If you like it, then it's money well spent. If you do not like it, then fair play. Is this album an experiment or the start of a new direction? If it's the former, then you have no reason to worry. Cut the band some slack and let them do their thing. Surely as a fan you owe them that right? If it's the latter, then as much as it may pain you to do so, move on. You will always have your Whoracle and The Jester Race CDs right? Just do one thing...with full knowledge that this album is that little bit different, approach this with your mind fully set to open, and try and appreciate this for what it is...a melodic, yet very daring metal album. In Flames is a band who are in the business of writing catchy, melodic heavy metal. I for one have found myself on more than several occasions humming along to a fair few of the tracks on here...when the music isn't playing! Job well done then. And on that note, I'm off to give this another spin, because it rocks!