IN FLAMES – Soundtrack To Your Escape

IN FLAMES‘ last album, Reroute To Remain, saw the band injecting new influences and ideas in to their sound, including keyboards, as well as host of “clean” vocals and spoken-word, all of which proceeded to alienate a majority of their fans who long thrilled to the band’s successful marriage of thrash and catchy IRON MAIDEN-inspired melodies. Having been one of those disappointed fans, I wasn’t too thrilled about the band’s new album, and I was in agreement with all of my friends who expressed their distaste for the album. But upon repeated listens, I found that a majority of Soundtrack To Your Escape has surprisingly grown on me. The band opens up with “F(r)iend,” a surprisingly thrashy track that even has the band reverting to some death metal growls during the chorus. First single, “The Quiet Place,” follows up with the dreaded keyboards and clean vocal combo and a somewhat awkward drum fill. But after time, the song’s hooks and melodies albeit simple and safe, do have an undeniable catchiness to them. The next three songs follow the same “safe and sterile” formula with the band throwing in some chugging metal riffs here and there to try and compensate for the softer moments in the songs. At times, the formula works, with songs such as “My Sweet Shadow” and “In Search For I,” melding catchy, keyboard friendly hooks with some crunchy thrash riffs. But then we have songs such as “Dead Alone” which promises to “be as angry as it wants to be” but instead delivers a surplus of bad keyboards, programming and sappy choruses. But the problems on Soundtrack don’t end there. The production team of Daniel Bergstrand and Orjan Ornkloo-less (who softened IN FLAMES up last time) are back and it’s kind of odd. You have Bergstrand who was responsible for arguably two of the heaviest records of the late 90’s with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD‘s City and MESHUGGAH‘s Destroy, Erase, Improve amongst others and Orjan, who did great work in his own band, MISERY LOVES COMPANY. They seem fit to just strip down all the elements of classic IN FLAMES, and substitute quality songwriting with piles and layers of keyboards and programming, and thin, cut and paste production. There’s also song entitled “Dial 595 Escape” and the tin-pot drumming of Daniel Svensson (this guy was an awesome drummer and songwriter in SACRILEGE. What happened?) But for all its flaws, IN FLAMES survives, thanks to the aforementioned quality tracks and the chugging, semi-return to heaviness that occurs with the last three songs, (including the poorly titled, “Dial“). There are a lot of people that hate this record, and will hate it no matter what, but the patient may find a few “diamonds in the rough” from a band that continues to refine and evolve their sound despite the numerous bumps in the road. (Nuclear Blast Records)

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