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Look, I might not be into In Flames so much, but I can tell you this. In their earlier days, they sounded a lot better. I'm not gonna be one of those people that are gonna say "oh, they were fantastic when they did 'The Jester Race' and now they're all emo" and all of that, 'cos even before they got more famous, they've made use of melody in their songs, especially in "The Jester Race". It's really nothing new with In Flames at all, except here, we've got songs that sound more like some popular song playing in a suburban middle-school kid's bedroom in 2006. Though I would say that "The Jester Race" is a good album, in my opinion, it's nowhere near being as good as other albums from other bands that put melody into their work, like Amon Amarth. Even with that being said, it's no excuse for "A Sense of Purpose" to sound like the next biggest thing in 2008, therefore redundant.
I said before that In Flames makes use of a more melodic style to their death metal, except here, we're not really hearing much death metal at all. We don't get so much of those low, guttural vocals that dominated past albums, and the melodic style here has evolved into more of an alternative style. Most of the guttural vocals are replaced by a somewhat whiny-sounding melodic voice, the kind of vocals you'd hear on an "emo" band album. Now, I wouldn't mind that so much, but they sing the sort of melodies that also appear on that kind of album. These vocal melodies have that kind of alternative/pop feel to it, making them a pain to listen to. Speaking of "emo", the album also contains the all-cliche theme of sadness and angst. Right from the get-go, we have lyrics related to angst. Don't like it? Get used to it, there's gonna be a lot of it! Believe me, you can't really expect much to come out of lyrics such as this gem from "Sleepless Again": "I don't want to take part, prefer to be forever numb". The sad thing? A lot of bands did this sort of thing back in 2008, and as you can see, it got really old, really fast. And due to the alternative/pop style melody that poisons both the instruments and vocals, it seems like every song on here sounds like a Sick Puppy reject.
For this reason, it's really hard to tell the difference between "Move Through Me" and "The Mirror's Truth", 'cos they all sound like the exact same song. They're using the exact same kind of melodies with the exact same chord patterns. Pure genius! Anders Friden doesn't put a lot of energy into his vocals, but even when he does, it just ends up sounding incredibly weak. All you'd need to do to get the idea is to listen to the first few minutes of, say, "Alias", and you'd get a clear idea of what effect Friden is trying to achieve. If he's trying to achieve the effect of some angsty teen upset over some popular girl at school rejecting him, he's doing it quite nicely. The guitars are obviously heavy, but again, they play this sort of alternative/pop melody, and it really defeats the purpose of the music being the least bit exciting. They're also incredibly grainy. The drums aren't much better, 'cos the production quality put a lot of emphasis on the bass drum being real light and the snare being real deep. Even the album cover has something for me to complain about. I swear, I'm looking at a Miss May I t-shirt, 'cos I'm seeing this cartoony owl thing-like person (I don't know) with brightly-colored cartoony tentacle things coming out of the ground. Everything just looks so fake and plastic, it just gives you the perfect idea of what to expect when listening to this album. I certainly didn't expect much when I looked at the cover.
Don't expect the eight-minute "opus", "The Chosen Pessimist" to be any better, either, 'cos it's just another one of those "emo" songs that's extended an extra five minutes. In fact, the vocals that Friden sing sound even whinier than the vocals in any other song on here. He even groans and moans a little, a sign that the song is probably yet another one about angst (as if the song's title didn't already throw you off!). The song starts off with the usual light-guitars-playing-a-sad-sounding-hook formula and it continues throughout much of the song, until approximately five minutes in, when the heavy guitars come in. I'm not even kidding, people, it doesn't even get heavier until after five full minutes. It doesn't get much better when the guitars do get heavier, for they play the same kind of sad-sounding hook and the song just plods along until the end That's not all, there's even a drum machine mixed in that plays the sort of pop-like beat you'd hear in...you get the idea. Eight minutes does not make a song your equivalent of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", it's how you use the amount of time you have, and you're certainly not using that time well with the sort of stuff I'm hearing.
For the love of all that is holy, you don't have to make every song about angst and make it sound like angst. It would've been more tolerable if there were only a select few songs on the album (a.k.a. just one song) that had that theme, but nope. It's all about whining about how much your life sucks 'cos your mom won't get you an Xbox. It's getting really annoying. I might not listen to In Flames as much as other people, but I have a very hard time trying to figure out how this mascara-laced garbage managed to sneak its way into the collections of many metallers. I've got quite a lot to say about this horrendous bucket of pig manure, but I'm afraid that if it were to fill a book, it'd be thicker than all of the Lord of the Rings books combined.
I never really liked the death metal genre but as strange things seem to happen, I accidentally heard the single "The mirror's truth" and was blown away by the song's energy and sharp riffs, its harmonic guitar solo parts in the key of Iron Maiden and the catchy chorus in short and sweet three minutes. I later decided to buy this album and got an introduction to a whole new genre.
There are a few other strange things that happen. In Flames is a very popular band, one can easily recognize this by the number of reviews that have been written about the band on the metal archives. But most of the reviews are negative and most of the albums have just an average rating around sixty percent or even less so that I ask myself why so many people listen to this if it is only mediocre or even worse. Another thing that I can't understand is the fact that this band gets low ratings but the mall core poser of Children of Boredom got quite high ratings.
When I decided to buy this album I wasn't sure whether the album would satisfy me or not and I didn't have any true expectations. I bought this by intuition or instinct and it was the right choice. This album is extremely diversified and courageous and most people seem to have problems with this. True and grim death metal fans get scared by acoustic guitars or ballads, somewhat like the elephant that is frightened by the mouse. Personally, as a fan of progressive and melodic music, I adore this album.
You have many different kinds of styles on this record. Fast and pitiless killers like the highly emotional "Disconnected", the haunting and melancholic atmosphere of "Sleepless again" and "Delight and angers", the surprising breaks and acoustic guitar parts of the brilliant "Alias", the melodic catchiness of "The mirror's truth" or "March to the shore" and finally the innovating, weird and very unusual ballad "The chosen pessimist" that has a slight “emo” touch. I usually hate “emo” music and other stuff, but this ballad is haunting, hypnotizing and inspiring. I never expected such a song from such a band. That's why adored this album, because it didn't stop to leave me stunning. You have to be quite open-minded to accept and like this album, it takes some time before you truly begin to appreciate it but once you are open to get into this album, you will live a great experience and strange things happen. Surely, there are also a couple of fillers towards the end of the record like the perfectly entitled "Sober and irrelevant" for example. But the album as a whole is very entertaining. This album was one of the best positive surprises of the last years to me and I have since taken a look on other bands of the same kind.
I highly recommend this album to people that aren't normally that much into the genre and rather prefer classic heavy metal, power metal or progressive stuff as they may get surprised by this record. To have an idea, check out "The mirror's truth", "Alias" and "The chosen pessimist", probably the best songs on this record to me. Traditional death metal fans may be warned, as this album is very diversified, melodic and progressive and there is not much straight forward anger to find in here.
When a band’s history becomes somewhat extensive, contention becomes inevitable even when the sound remains relatively consistent. In Flames, however, seems to have reveled in the idea of pissing off people, at least that’s the impression that comes from the past few albums they’ve put out. They have this unique ability of articulating through their songwriting that they still possess the ability to make decent music, while simultaneously affirming as loudly as possible that they have little intention of doing so, for no other reason that they can. They might have a bit more airplay with the material they’ve put out, but apples to apples, the appeal of their old sound vs. the new on is about equal in terms of accessibility, thus the continuing success of their counterparts Dark Tranquillity.
This is all relevant because their latest offering, a rather schizophrenic mishmash of metalcore and electronic music with some traces of melodeath called “A Sense Of Purpose”, is one of the more frustrating albums ever put out. Apart from the dreadfully comical sense of artistic surrealism out of a bad graphic novel cover art, which reminds a bit of the containment imagery of the latest Korn abortion, this is a tough album to judge as either decent or drivel. There will be a good idea here that almost begins to remind of “Clayman”, while another will immediately follow that reminds us all that “Reroute To Remain” is still dominating much of the songwriting process of this band. Somewhere after the horrid “Soundtrack To Your Escape” this bunch got the idea that mixing together old ideas with new ones will suffice to satisfy everybody, and just like with “Come Clarity”, the results are very inconsistent.
From one song to the next, this is a constant exercise in a band refusing to make up their mind on what they want to sound like, and trying to pass it off as brilliance in genre hybridization. This literally jumps out right at the onset of “The Mirror’s Truth”, which starts off with a grating groove riff that sounds partially stolen from Papa Roach, then the drums kick in on overdrive and a few interchanges of melodic hooks fly through with all the Iron Maiden trappings to boot, all eventuating in a chorus that sounds like an outtake from “Moonshield” with semi-clean hardcore vocals. This is the sort of song that would be solid if they just knocked off the stupid groovy chug breakdowns and kept things moving. “Disconnected” actually takes the opposite approach and starts of cooking with a nice thrash riff and some high octane drumming, and then after about 35 seconds just starts coasting in groove territory and sounding like Killswitch Engage with keyboards. Can you guys make up your minds please?
The general rule of this album is, the shorter the song, the less time there is to meander around and lose any sense of stylistic continuity. While probably being, at best, a couple of rejects from “Clayman”, the speed infused yet still groovy “I’m The Highway” and “March To The Shore” are among the best examples of this band at least writing a decent song with metalcore vocals that can be followed without feeling like Jonathan Davis and company are raping your eardrums. “Sober And Irrelevant” is largely the same story, though they do a better job here of avoiding that grating rhythmic slam sound that normally dominates their verses. Had they simply avoided writing overlong, almost alternative rock sounding crap like “The Chosen Pessimist” and deemphasized the percussive 2 chord crap during the vocal sections, this album might actually have surpassed “Come Clarity” and perhaps bee worthy of picking up.
There are a lot of things going on here, but one thing that is definitely not going on here is a consistent identity. It’s pretty easy to despise Fridén’s emo driven clean vocals, but coming up with a pure negative or positive reaction to the entirety of this disjointed release is actually a pretty daunting task. It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone who hated “Come Clarity” should avoid this album as well, with the stupid homage to “Where The Wild Things Are” album art being extra incentive not to have this in a disc collection. But speaking for myself, this is a pretty even mix of good and bad, and I can’t say that I love it or hate it. Like many mainstream efforts, it is offensive in its inoffensiveness, though knowing what these musicians were capable of in the past should add a level of ire in most.
So I've read most of the reviews that were below a 75 because i wasn't sure how people could pin this album as being anything less than that. Honestly this album was great. By far my least favorable album from In Flames but nevertheless, amazing.
What people don't understand about In Flames, especially Anders, is that they're not satisfied with sounding the same on every album. They like to change their sound. Think about Cannibal Corpse for a second. When you feel like listening to them you grab your Ipod, or whatever, and probably hit shuffle on the band because Cannibal Corpse is Cannibal Corpse regardless of what album is playing. And i'm not knocking them at all because they are awesome.
What i'm getting at is that for In Flames it's the complete opposite. Your in the mood for In Flames... but what album is almost too hard to pick surely. The range that the band can cover within melodic death metal is fucking huge! A Sense of Purpose is a big leap from Come Clarity and an exponentially bigger leap from The Jesters Race. People that despise this album have a way too singular mind and are stuck on older albums.
With A Sense of Purpose In Flames managed to keep away from being lumped into a pile of melodic death metal. They maintained their image as In Flames with this album. Meaning that their music stayed extremely unique. Even though they are one of the founders of melodic death metal it's damn near impossible to feel like they stand out from the vast crowd of melodic death metal bands such as Dark Tranquility and Soilwork. In Flames is an extremely original group of guys and this album only further proved that while still sounding great.
The album itself is full of new and amazing sounds and concepts. especially the lyrics. Anders is a genius when it comes to writing complex lyrics. never are they simplistic and the lyrics off this album are so different from the others but still mystical and intriguing. The album is lighter, that much is for sure, but still it contains some extremely fast parts and deep sounds. Drenched In Fear is a great example of this. In this song it is easy to see parallels with F(r)iend, especially when Anders growls deep such as when he says; "brand new armor". this song as well as many others off the album get my blood pumping and fill me with a sense of confidence.
Do not listen to this album seeking the brutality of The Jesters Race, but instead listen to it and really think about how In Flames is even still expanding the world of melodic death metal. Music is a living thing and In Flames is the heart behind melodic death metal.
I'll admit I had very little expectations towards this new album, and even less after seeing the Korn-like cover art. It didn't help that pretty much everyone I know hated it from the start.
But here's the thing...I like it. I really, really like it. It started with me liking only the first 5-6 tracks, but now I like pretty much the whole damn ordeal. Here I go again, losing all credibility, right? Wrong. It's the best In Flames album of the 21st century and my favorite since at least Clayman. The reason is because they've taken a lot of these tangents they've been on for the past half a decade: the vocal experimentation, electronic elements, and groovier guitar riffing (dare I say nu-metal?); and they've welded them successfully into their earlier, inspirational melodic death hooks to produce a powerful expression. Anders vocals have TRULY come together on this one, I have to admit.
In Flames is the soundtrack of futility and frustration but achieved through uplifting, energetic melodic riffing, slamming grooves and impassioned cries. They have found their Sense of Purpose, and delivered, and it's about damn time. "The Mirror's Truth" presents a salvo of super emotional melodies and layered chorus parts with great guitar work, but not afraid to break it down with some insanely awesome melodeath grooving. "Disconnected" weaves its course around one of the best thrash metal riffs I've heard this year. "Sleepless Again" features the return of the great acoustic guitars we haven't really heard since their early work, even if only for a small part of the song. Ditto with "Alias", except the acoustics are a mid section surrounded by an excellent, mid-paced melodic, passionate track with an unforgettable chorus smothered in some great, anthemic riffs. "I'm the Highway" is pure fucking In Flames, melodic death metal at its finest, with adorable little guitar lines. "Delight and Angers" begins with an excellent pit groove, yet entirely thrash. This isn't even half the fucking album yet, but you get the point!
It may be nearly impossible to convince the multitude who have had a hate on for In Flames for well near a decade that anything they do is worthwhile, but if that doesn't include you, for the love of the firmament check this album out, get lost in its squalor, its frustration, and its beauty, because it is an excellent record and....FINALLY! If it took a few years of mediocre efforts like Come Clarity and Soundtrack to Your Escape to arrive here, then I welcome it. And I will welcome more, as long as it's this good.
In Flames are an enigma in the metal world. Not for any normal misconceptions like "how did they go from awesome melodic Death Metal to shitty pop rock," or anything like that, but they're an enigma to me because I don't understand why they're popular, why anyone cares about them or why they have fans at all, really.
In a way, though, their newest full length A Sense of Purpose is a release. A release from hiding, per se, from hiding all these years their true intentions. People will crow on about how The Jester Race and Lunar Strain were good albums, but most of those people don't know what the fuck they're talking about, and I say those albums were mediocre, and In Flames was never good. This new stuff? There are people who say this is a progression, and that it's entertaining and listenable - yeah, that's a fucking hoot, that right there. This is kind of like handing a little kid a loaded gun. Before, they were just fooling around and not really causing any harm, but with this album, they've finally found the trigger and pulled it, blowing away any pretension of being anything other than annoying crap. It sounds like the old stuff except here they're not trying to be dark or insightful or even metal at all. In fact, they're not even really trying at all, to do anything.
What? They even admit it in the verses of the first song! "We aren't even trying/Let this light explode," says resident angsty muppet Anders Friden in one of his more honest moments, and I could just end this whole thing right there, because what more do I have to say? They've already said it all for me. I guess the "let this light explode" part refers to the anger of whoever suffers the misfortune of having to listen to it, maybe the sound engineers who had to produce it. Boy, do I feel sorry for them.
But I might as well persevere. This album is just terrible, with no real thought or creativity put into it. Everything about this is just bland, bland, bland, with no distinguishing features aside from the abysmally shitty "harsh" vocals from Anders. There is a lot of lyrical moaning on here about constant failure and other self-pitying drivel that I'm sure they spent a torturous and agonizing fifteen minutes writing in between mascara-lathering sessions. This is heavy, but it's really just horribly executed radio fodder at the end of the day (there is a good way to do radio friendly, but this is not it), with a guitar tone that stinks up the room faster than your brother's old gym socks and vocals that are so bad that they should be shipped into outer space for the martians to study. Seriously, this is just awful. Anders Friden puts no effort at all into singi---well, making the noises he does here, as due to the constraints of my hatred for this album, I refuse to call it singing. Every vocal line on here amounts to nothing more than pussy-whipped radio crooning sung in a more strained and harsh fashion, and it is absolutely agonizing. What is wrong with this band? How could they have ever possibly thought this album was a good idea?
I mean, just look at the eight minutes of torture they decided to call "The Chosen Pessimist." Half of it is really just lifeless guitar plunking with some "emotional" whispered clean vocals, before it "explodes" into a stale and turgid set of heavier plodding riffs, before finally ending without any real conclusion and seguing into the very shitty "Sober and Irrelevant." None of these songs have any identities otherwise. They're all around the same length and even the riffs sound way too similar, but then again, every fucking radio pop-metal band ever uses riffs like this anyway. The melodies on this album, nice as they might be, were all stolen from Iron Maiden and other better bands, so I can't really praise the band for that.
Oh, and if the album itself wasn't insulting enough, just check out the video for the first song "The Mirror's Truth," which features the amazing cinematographic acting skills of a bunch of guys dressed up as ugly, fat blobs running around in pink and white clothing while the band rocks out, man. I'm dead serious, that is the basic premise of the video. I sure wish I could use that EXIT door they're showing in there, that's for sure. Good lord, this is terrible. Do people really find this entertaining? The lack of effort here is just astonishing, even in the context of the band's admittance of that! It's like they were physically trying to create something using as little of their brain cells as possible, to create something that would inflict the maximum amount of pain on anyone who dared watch it.
But really, what is the worst thing about this at the end of the day? That Goddamned self-piteous, whinging, I'm-so-tormented attitude that has plagued so many bands these days. What could possibly be entertaining about listening to a grown man whine about "killing what burns inside" or "I feel like shit, but at least I feel something"? What could possibly be gleaned at all from that? It's pathetic, just another lifeless attempt to cash in on the feeble, angst-ridden minds of the fourteen year old '00 generation that think they have it so hard. Here's an idea: If you think you have it hard, with your two-story house, outdoor pool, married set of parents and nice clothes, how about you come over here so I can bash your fucking head through a wall and break your In Flames CDs in half? Now cheer the fuck up, enjoy what you have and stop listening to this crap!
As it stands, the only thing this album is good for is bludgeoning your brain slowly into a catatonic state if you just can't fuckin' take it anymore, like the lyrics seem to say a lot. This is so monotonous and one-dimensional that it actually lulls the listener into an altered state of consciousness if listened to for long enough, and unless you want that to happen, avoid this turd like you would avoid a frontal lobotomy handled by a monkey with a wrench, because A Sense of Purpose is too wretched to be allowed breathing space.
Loving In Flames always felt like Gollem loving the ring for me. It shouldn’t be good, and if I try I can actually find many negatives. Yet, I can’t stop loving it. The shivers down your spine you get when you listen something that really touches you (in a bang your head away form or a soothing ballad form) are uncontrollable. So is my love for In Flames.
Almost every song on here has the same set-up, atmosphere and layout, but unlike Soilwork I don’t get annoyed by it. Mainly it is because there is not a obvious change from a groovy verse to a majestic loud chorus. Sure, the choruses are the shiny moments of every song, but that doesn’t mean the verses are there for no purpose other than filling the space up. It’s all still headbangable, and not completely devoid of melodies. The so-called groovy parts are present (somewhat), but again unlike Soilwork there is no abundance of melodies. The fact that there are two guitarists is clear in almost every riff. There are many harmonies within the riffs, creating an insant message to the brain that there is a melody. It also layers the sound a bit which is very nice, just like there is a synthesizer present staying rather faithfully on the sideline, waiting to kick in a superb melody. (Move through me… chorus…)
Even Anders Friden, one of metal’s most hated vocalists ever doesn’t get on my nerves. He is no Roy Kahn or Bruce Dickinsen whatsoever, or Ross Dolan if anything, but he is not bad either. I guess it’s a more personal thing as I can understand his voice unnerves people. The other band members are very decent at their job. In Flames has never been the virtuoso band, aside from a few guitar solo’s from Jesper. Still, their songwriting talent is as good as it was 12 years ago. The melodies don’t feel very recycled, which is quite a thing as metal exists for almost 40 years already. The verses with the groove metal influences are by far not as good as the choruses, but I take it for granted. Especially since, although it’s obviously groove metal influenced, it’s not without any melody. There are lots of melodies in the verses, and if there aren’t soon enough the song flows smoothly into the pre-chorus/chorus with a massive set up of 2 guitarists, 1 keyboard and 1 vocalist. Enough material to create some magnificent melodies I think.
All in all, this record may be not very metal, but it’s still the same quality. Almost every song shares the same “idea”, aside from the controversial “The Chosen Pessimist” which has become a hated/loved track. And though the other songs don’t differ that much, there are still lots of moments when I know specifically which song and which part it is.
Recommended tracks: Move through me (great, great, great chorus), Condemned, The Mirror’s Truth, Sleepless Again, The Chosen Pessimist and for anyone having the bonus tracks: Eraser.
Thank you and goodnight, precious.
Hearing the overall sound of this album, I sense that In Flames have gone a few years back in time with this album, as in my ears this one sounds more like Soundtrack To Your Escape than any other In Flames album. Is this bad? No, I would say, as I enjoyed Soundtrack, and every other album In Flames has ever made. The greatest difference are the vocals, as there are by far more clean vocals on this album, although they are not entirely clean, but somewhere inbetween, with a stronger link to clean than to grunts.
Starting off with the more than enjoyable riff of The Mirror's Truth, which had also been released as a single in advance, this album features different aspects that we've already heard before from In Flames, but also some completely new things, and even sometimes a throwback to In Flames before they changed their sound.
A Sense Of Purpose has this typical modern, clean guitar sound, which I actually find rather enjoyable in this case. We had already heard that from In Flames, indeed, but on this album it is even cleaner. Vocalist Anders Friden shines on tracks like Disconnected, despite the bit of lyrical cheese(I seem not to be the only one who thinks this), in which they have found a good balance between (quite) heavy riffs and very melodic and catchy melodies. Alias deserves a special note, because it has this beautiful acoustic part in the middle of the song, which sounds like a throwback to old songs such as Moonshield and Pallar Anders Visa. Move Through Me is an outstanding track for me, the intro is nice, but nothing special, but the sweeping rythms in the (pre)chorus are tremendous, and the song also features a nice solo and a breakdown, something which, in my eyes, always demonstrates a certain amount of professionalism, which is of course something we may expect from these Swedish metal veterans.
Outstanding and very special track is The Chosen Pessimist. It is a long, atmospheric ballad, which doesn't really sound like anything In Flames has ever done before. Does this mean the next album will be another experiment, and they will overthrow their style again? I am curious about this, very curious. The track starts with a long intro, and slowly builds up on strength. It has parts with vocals, and instrumental parts, and after a long while the distorted, heavier, guitar finally kicks in. This only lasts for a short period of time, because then another breakdown is inserted, after which the song gets heavier for the last time. This time it also features some vocals, and it lasts longer, to abruptly end the song, and kick the heavy riff of Sober And Irrelevant in.
Not the whole album was as clean as I said, the last track, March To The Shore, is a bit rawer than the rest, and seems a natural continuation of this album's preceder, Come Clarity.
Anyone who liked Reroute To Remain, Soundtrack To Your Escape and Come Clarity, should be able to appreciate this one too. However, if you already dropped out after Clayman, I don't think you'll like this one either. Whether their next full-length will be a surprise or not, is a question we'll have to ask, a question for which I do not want to await the answer.
These past couple of years have been…well, rather interesting to say the least for Sweden’s In Flames. With albums such as Soundtrack To Your Escape and Come Clarity being far cries from their older material like Jester Race and Whoracle, fans are split between whether or not to accept this “nu” In Flames. On one hand, listeners consider it to be the band’s way of reinventing themselves, while on the other; longtime fans are crying “sellout” with their new toned-down, melodic approach to their music.
In Flames’ latest effort, A Sense Of Purpose, is a clear continuation of their previous album, Come Clarity, as the band is catering to newer fans as opposed to their older fans who have longed for them to return to their roots. However, one of the biggest problems with A Sense Of Purpose just like with Come Clarity is that many of the songs are not distinguishable from each other and this makes it a repetitive affair. While a good number of In Flames fans consider Soundtrack To Your Escape their “jump the shark” album, Soundtrack To Your Escape did have distinguishable tracks you could recognize.
Not to say that In Flames hasn’t put any effort into their songs on A Sense Of Purpose, but it feels like they did spew out 12 songs (15 depending on which version of the album you have) to make a quick buck. Looking on the bright side, the quality is crisp and clear in A Sense Of Purpose and newer fans will surely enjoy this if they liked Come Clarity, Reroute To Remain, and so on.
I’m trying to restrain myself from calling vocalist Anders Fridén a Swedish version of Jonathan Davis, but I can’t help but notice that he and the rest of the band are getting more and more melodic with their metal sound with each passing release. Especially with their first attempt in making an “epic” ballad, “The Chosen Pessimist”, it can be a bit irritating hearing Fridén getting all "mushy".
So all and all, is A Sense of Purpose a terrible album? It all depends on who you are. If you’re the type of metalhead who regard Jester Race and Colony their greatest material, then this album isn’t for you. But if you happen to be the one who’s open to anything and don’t mind the “nu” In Flames, then maybe this album’s just for you. But if you’re on the fence (just like yours truly), A Sense Of Purpose is hampered by repetitiveness and dull songwriting which is kind of disappointing because I feel there was potential for this to be a good album based on the sound quality.
Ahhh, In Flames a band so many close-minded metal heads love to hate and rightly so. I can understand why they would recieve this hate, although I think a lot of it is misconstrued. For a band to create 5-6 (depending if you like Clayman or not) absolute heavy metal masterpieces and then follow up with a string of so-so releases, is enough to enrage just about anyone. However I pride myself on having a complete open mind with my metal and I find their post-Clayman output to be mostly enjoyable, mostly.
I'm a firm believer that this is their best album since Reroute to Remain. Now most people won't agree with me and will say "Well Come Clarity is heavier, more pissed and a throwback to their old style". I understand that argument, I just think ASOP has more memorable songwriting. To enjoy this album you must throw away all your preconceptions of IF being a melodic "death" metal band. They pretty much squashed that style somewhere between Whoracle and Colony and became just a regular melodic metal band, albeit a little more aggressive with the harsher vocals utilized. Some would say power metal with harsh vocals. When you sit back and let ASOP grow on you, there is actually a lot to enjoy about it.
The first 4 songs are clearly geared for mainstream acceptance and possibly even radio play, even though I've never heard IF on the radio before. Dissconnected is a good song and reminds me of old school IF but it does have a certain amount of lyrical cheese that almost kills the entire song. If you can get past that, it's a highly enjoyable song. The next two songs are ok at best and the only thing that stands out about them is during Alias. An awesome acoustic break kicks in and you are transported somewhere back in time around the Subterranean days! Great stuff and that break from time to time will pop into my head and get stuck there. After these first 4 songs the album really starts to pick up the pace and aggressiveness, save the Chosen Pessimist, which is just flat out BORING and slow.
Starting with song 5 and skipping song 8 would be how I would reccommend this album to anyone who prefers the old IF. Move Through Me is really a standout track for me. I really enjoy that song. March to the Shore, Delight and Angers, Sober And Irrelevant, Condemend and Drenched In Fear could be the best songs on the album and are all throwbacks to the old style. With catchy guitar melodies and solos, thrash-y riffs, good, precise drumming and sort of a sing-along style of vocals that will have you rocking out in your car but will piss most die-hards off. The fact that Anders really never uses his old deathy growl at all anymore, is kind of a bummer.
So overall, I enjoyed this album a lot. Of course it really doesn't compare to their old stuff but it still is well crafted melodic metal that anyone can enjoy. Unless your the type of person who would be worried about what other metalheads would think about you, if they caught you listening to this poser, sellout, faux-death metal band. For me I'm just glad they are putting out music that reminds me of their glory days and that they are still touring.
I went into this knowing that it would be nothing like 'Whoracle', 'Colony', 'Jester Race', or even 'Clayman'. I went into this bearing releases like Reroute to Remain, and, more recently, Come Clarity in mind. I knew it wasn't going to be as beefy, and I knew I wasn't going to feel the need to sing along like I do when I listen to earlier In Flames releases. Unfortunately, this initial mindset may be the only reason I enjoyed 'A Sense of Purpose' as much as I really did.
When I picked up the album I had only heard one song - The Mirrors Truth. I watched the music video and thought to myself 'Hey, it ain't old-old In Flames, but it ain't too bad'. Unfortunately, the album didn't seem to get much better than 'The Mirror's Truth'. I popped the album in as I was driving and rather than cranking the volume and 'rocking out', as suburban teens say, I let my brain sift throught every little layer of sound, every detail of every passage, in order to find something that I really enjoyed. Luckily I did find a few things that made this purchase somewhat worthy. I still do enjoy the single. On top of this, there are a few guitar passages that I really enjoy, one of which being the introduction to 'I'm the Highway'. I really like that riff, don't ask me why. In Flames could have taken this riff and put it on loop for fourty minutes, called it the new album, and I would have enjoyed it just the same. I also like the synth that brings in the chorus to 'Disconnected'. Also, despite the horrid lyrics (which have been mentioned many times), I think the chorus to this song is very catchy and I sometimes sing along when no one is watching. Aside from a couple of other catchy choruses and riffs here and there, the album doesn't have much more to offer.
Despite the catchy riffs that pop up occassionally, the guitar sound on this album is very watered-down. If you listen to some of In Flames' older material, you'll note that the guitars are much more crunchy, more distorted, and just plain louder. On this album, it's almost as if they were buried in the mix. They come out occassionaly to play a shy little solo, but that's about it.
I also managed to take a few of the riffs and compare them to riffs on 'Come Clarity', as many of them are similar. This gives 'A Sense of Purpose' a sense of being 'Come Clarity Part II'
The album has many flaws, a few missing peices, but I still give it a spin occassionally for it's few redeeming qualities. I only wish I could have scored a used copy for a much cheaper price.
This album has let me down, but honestly I should have expected it! Since I first read the titles of the songs I knew this wasn't going to be an improvement after Come Clarity. I've actually enjoyed EVERY release from In Flames, from the early days to before Come Clarity, when it got mediocre. I mean, I could actually LISTEN to Come Clarity and enjoy SOME of the songs. Not on this album, this album is an abomination.
From beginning to end, this album does nothing for me. The opening, album-title track one of the two songs I can listen to, but it is NOT an enjoyable experience. The mediocre melodies and lack of the metal edge is not apparent at all in the next two tracks also, then the suckfest, skip worthy ridden track disaster begins.
I wonder which member of the band snuck into Flyleaf's tour bus and stole the music for their next album? "Alias" reeks of pop-metal medley and mainstream modern rock. Repetitive and annoying riffs accompanied by synthesized whines doesn't stop there, "I'm The Highway" sneaks up on you and makes you think you're still waiting for "Alias" to end.
Just wait till "I'm The Highway" is done, then you get the same thing AGAIN, and get ready for the emo vocal and musical punch in the face about 2 minutes in.
I really can't tell a difference in any of the songs until "The Chosen Pessimist". The repetition of 4 guitar notes and dull drumming for the first 5 minutes of the song with some of Anders' whiniest moments is a horrible thing to sit through, then you get about a minute of continuous, boring chords, then back to the draggy notes. This goes on and varies little for 8 minutes. Possibly In Flames' worst recorded track.
The next 4 songs, nothing for me again. Not enough difference to care to type about them. Eraser was another mildly entertaining tune with some more catchier riffage, but still easily beaten by just about anything else on past albums.
This is a huge letdown for a long time fan of more than just the older stuff and I pray they change their direction next time.
If any of you had heard "The Mirror's Truth" EP before hearing this, you might have had the same reaction. It seems that In Flames had put their four best songs onto a CD and released it about a month in advance of "A Sense of Purpose" to give us hope of a good album, as opposed to the last two mediocre ones which, while they had their pop-band elements, were still enjoyable in places and made for a good listen. But this time it has gotten even worse.
Props to Anders (vocals), who successfully manipulated me into buying the latest In Flames album with his EP trap. Why Anders, and not the rest of the band? Well, all of us who don't like what has happened to In Flames over time blame him - after all, HE'S the one with dreadlocks and whiney clean vocals, so who else could be to blame?
The Mirror's Truth, Tilt, Eraser, and Abnegation were all good songs with enjoyable elements and it really got me looking forward to "A Sense Of Purpose" - So I buy it, take it home, place it into my CD player, and begin listening to the album from the first track.
Even though I'd heard it before, The Mirror's Truth was still enjoyable - nothing defiled about it so I was content listening to it all the way through again.
Disconnected kicks in, and it starts off great. Fast paced, aggressive, and with that gothenburg element I enjoy in music. "This album is going to be great!" I thought. "Aha, here's the chorus... what? Someone whiney must've gone into the wrong studio and started singing about how they felt like shit, all over In Flames' instrumental chorus!"... Okay, I'll give up the charade. I can't decieve myself forever. Yes, that's Anders singing those dreadful lyrics and ruining a decent song. The guitar melody in the chorus is fantastic though, and definitely one to look out for if you decide to give the album a listen.
The next track "Sleepless" starts off well, one of those mid-paced memorable intro's. Now, some elements of this song remind me of the mighty Clayman era when In Flames had achieved the perfect balance between heavy and melodic, and this can be heard at 1:18 if you can ignore Anders enough to hear what is beneath him. Can't say much about the rest of the song though, the usual new In Flames formula of whining, recycled "Soundtrack To Your Escape" riffs, and weird pop synth which doesn't do the song any favours.
I won't be doing a track-by-track analysis of the album, but it's important you know about the first few tracks as they stand out from the rest... I'll explain the rest shortly, but first a word on the second worst track on the album - Alias. Welllllllll the intro bursts into a weird plodding riff which sounds completely out of character for In Flames. I can't conjure the words to describe just how crap it is... There's lots of whining in it though so no doubt the song was all Anders' fault. Worse yet is that this intro riff is also the chorus. As for the rest of the song, it's all pretty boring. Except one part - when the guitars go clean, and back come the memories of Acoustic Medley, Pallar Anders Visa and the intro to Moonshield. It then proceeds to be repeated again with distorted guitars, in that lovely tone that was used for the chorus of Artifacts of The Black Rain. So why do I say this is the second worst song on the album if I enjoyed that part so much? Well, they couldn't have chosen a worse song to make it part of. It almost seems like an insult, in a "we can still write great stuff, but we won't bother doing more than 40 seconds of it in a bad song" kind of way. Like, the good stuff is there, but there's so much bad stuff that it destroys what little hope we're given of In Flames ever becoming the greatest Swedish band again.
The only abomination worse than this song on the album is The Chosen Pessimist. If you love to hear Anders whine, then this will be your new "most played" on Last FM. It's a whole song of Anders whining, on a whole new level of ridiculousness. He sounds out of tune and half asleep. The guitars are clean for the most part, and Anders even attempts some vocal harmonics, but they might as well have brought a cat into the studio as a guest vocalist.
So the rest of the songs are generally bad. There are a few good intro's but that's as far as it gets (Sober and Irrelevant, and March to The Shore). Wait, that's pretty close to "March to The Store"... a subliminal trick perhaps?
So why 47%? Well, HMV had a Japanese import in-store which I decided to pay an additional 5 pounds or so for, and it contains the additional 3 tracks from The Mirror's Truth EP that I mentioned at the start of the review. Combining these three tracks with the good song intro's and whichever good parts I pointed out, the album then becomes just under average for the kind of modern music it is.
If you listen to classic In Flames records such as ‘Colony’ and ‘The Jester Race’, that helped define the melodic death metal genre, and then listen to more recent tracks like ‘Scream’ or ‘F(r)iend’, the considerable difference can often spark a negative reaction, and has done in In Flames’ core fanbase for years now. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because ‘A Sense Of Purpose’ is a truly brilliant album, and any critics who are still having trouble getting over the band as they were in 2004 are simply missing out. Their last effort, 2006’s ‘Come Clarity’, was far from poor either, but ‘A Sense Of Purpose’ is the album that In Flames have been threatening to make ever since that oh-so-controversial change in sound.
So, the sound of the album is an interesting one for In Flames fans, any review you read of this album will tell you that they’ve filled the album with lead guitar and the classic harmonies that really set In Flames apart from any pretenders. No matter how hard anyone tries, the sound of Jesper Strömblad and Björn Gelotte is impossible to imitate, as the two have always (that is, since Björn switched from drums to full time guitarist on ‘Colony’) gelled, and their understanding of harmony and their melodic awareness has remained intact since In Flames’ inception in 1990. Sure, it wasn’t that prominent in ‘Reroute To Remain’ or ‘Soundtrack To Your Escape’, but it was always there and since those albums it has really made a return and has become the most important part of In Flames’ music once again.
Not only that, but the clean vocals of Anders Fridén have taken up Jesper’s style of melodic composition, and really work as In Flames melodies. Anyone who has heard songs like ‘Come Clarity’ will be glad to hear that the clean vocals, while a lot more frequent, have actually improved massively. In fact, the vocals as a whole have gotten much better. Anders actually performs with real conviction and strength on ‘A Sense Of Purpose’, and has abandoned the whiny half-assed muttering that truly ruined a lot of songs on ‘Soundtrack To Your Escape’ especially. If you really miss his vocal style as shown with his work with fellow Gothenburg legends Dark Tranquillity, then you won’t be relieved here, but hopefully if you listen to the album openly you will recognise that the vocals here are solid in their own right.
The drumming, as always, is top notch, with Daniel Svensson delivering yet another absolutely stellar performance, and even though his beats are not at all unique to each song, he performs with finesse and brings a lot of the songs to life. Accompanying him in the rhythm section is bassist Peter Iwers. Now, the bass guitar has never, ever been a particularly noticeable part of In Flames’ sound, however Peter’s thick bass tone compliments the multiple layers of guitars over it perfectly and really makes some of the album’s riffs feel incredibly heavy.
You know, even though this new album could be considered a real mixture of their previous work, the sound of the album is very consistent and every single song is enjoyable and valuable: that’s not something that I could say about an In Flames album since ‘Whoracle’.
Honestly, the lyrics of ‘Come Clarity’ were pathetic. They were whiny, they were repetitive and they contained countless lines that just made you cringe. While I certainly can’t say that the lyrics on ‘A Sense Of Purpose’ can be compared to the poetry of ‘The Jester Race’, there has been a dramatic improvement. The lyrics still seem to mostly deal with internal struggles and personal issues, however there is only one song on the entire album where the lyrics are so cliché that it actually makes you stop and think what Anders was thinking whilst writing them (and all of their albums since ‘Clayman’ have had several such moments), and that’s on ‘Disconnected’ (“I feel like shit, but at least I feel something” does not do it's anthemic chorus justice), and several of the chorus lines in particular have that quality that really have a lot of power even if you aren’t immediately aware of what they mean, and that’s something that Anders should really be proud of.
If you have truly hated every bit of music you’ve heard from In Flames since ‘Clayman’, then I can’t say that you will like this album, however if you think that ‘Come Clarity’ was a definite step in the right direction, then you will want to hear this. It’s the album that defines In Flames’ sound as the band that they are today. It’s played with total conviction and it shows that the recording process was a very enjoyable one (and you know this if you’ve watched their in-studio videos). It is, ultimately, just a fantastic In Flames album, boasting 12 songs of the highest quality that acknowledges the band’s history, both distant and recent, and takes them into new places (the eight minute journey ‘The Chosen Pessimist’ is testament to that) that hopefully proves that In Flames have not lost their way.
Originally written for www.ultimate-guitar.com review team.
A new album by our favorite sell outs In Flames.
In Flames is one of those bands that most people either love or hate nowadays. I myself have never hated them, although the change in style over the last 5 or 6 years hasn't been for the better. If Reroute to Remain was the first step down in the Nu metal/metalcore swamp, Soundtrack to your Escape was a full fucking face plant smack down in it and Come Clarity was trying to rise up but still being a bit soaked, then A Sense of Purpose is when the mucus is beginning to disappear. But only just beginning, not disappearing entirely.
I have found something memorable in every In Flames record before this except for Come Clarity. Most people think it was a step forward, but it wasn't a step at all. This on the other hand is a step forward. Not a big one, but indeed a step nonetheless. The sound is pretty much the same as the last one, but in some way it catches my interest in a way Come Clarity couldn't. Maybe it's because it's a bit more guitar oriented or because the drumming is a bit more catchy.
For people who enjoyed the last couple of albums a lot, this is a real treat for them. It's simple, catchy and melodic. Good in a lot of peoples minds, but not in mine. It's just that little "simple" that holds it down. We can develop the word simple to repetitive. All songs sound pretty much the same. A nice intro, a fast, groovy and melodic verse and then a softer chorus, and then over and over again with very little variation in the riffs. The fast and groovy parts is just my taste, but the choruses with Anders clean singing isn't working. We all know Anders is worthless when it comes to singing clean. Hes screaming/growling isn't top notch either for that matter. And the lyrics are probably the worst they have ever done. I keep wondering what happened to the "I wish I could rape the day" spirit. Now it's just stupid whining and bitching.
Example: "I feel like shit, but at least I feel something" or "don't tell me, tell my ghost". The latter one is just stupid. Anders used to have strong and violent emotions in his screaming, but now it just sounds sad and depressive.
The production is pretty solid, although the drums tend to drown the guitars sometimes. That's sad since the guitar work on this album is better than on the last two before this. The vocals seems pretty flat with very little depth, and that doesn't help Anders one bit.
To sum everything up:
This is by no means a bad record. The only weak song here is Alive which is completely horrible. But there isn't really any killer songs either. They're good, but nothing more. This record is quickly forgotten since nothing is memorable. Sure we might never get something as awesome as the solo in December Flower, but at least give me something like the intro to My Sweet Shadow or the chorus in Pinball Map. If you didn't hate the last 3 albums with all your heart, you should pick this up.
One final thing: The album art. WTF? It looks like Wolverine from X-men staring at a jagged cunt...
I find it occasionally illuminating to describe an album by using its song-titles. After the limp dick beginning, this album starts to pick up its game near the end; but not nearly enough to preserve its credibility. Most of the songs moved through me without a sense of purpose; upon hearing them I was unmoved and unimpressed. It was like eating a bland soup with familiar ingredients and no meat. That being said, it wasn’t all bad, but if you are familiar with In Flames, you will be more disappointed with this album than with Come Clarity, maybe even as disappointed as you were when they did Soundtrack To Your Escape.
Compared to Come Clarity, this album is worse. Come Clarity was OK, but it had its weaknesses. A Sense of Purpose is like an extension of Come Clarity but with fewer strong points. Sober and Irrelevant is one of the strongest tracks and it’s nothing special. Musically, everything sounds pretty similar to Come Clarity, their previous album. The guitars share a lot of those pummeling, sometimes catchy riffs, and they whip out the acoustics for a couple seconds every now and then. The vocals are slightly altered, but not noticeably so. At any rate, they’re nothing to write home about. But compared to Come Clarity, A Sense of Purpose has more boring, skip-to-the-next-song sorta stuff. So the album is pretty much another Come Clarity, but blander. Why would you want that? Listen to The Jester Race, because that’s metal. The songs on A Sense of Purpose are the kind of songs that get featured on Bam Margera’s compilation CD.
AND WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ON THE COVER???
Cover art should reflect something about the music. In this case it’s retarded, strange, terrible… it looks like the cover for some illustrated children's book but the artist was on meth. Great. You can almost tell what to expect from the music by looking at the cover. I like In Flames, but I hardly feel like I’m betraying them here because I feel like they betrayed me when they shifted their target audience from metalheads to skatercunts.
In Flames peaked with Colony. They had their ‘golden years’ similar to porn, but they are now past their prime. Come Clarity was a small comeback from Soundtrack to Your Escape, but I think it’s safe to say In Flames can throw in the towel any time now. They certainly should if this pattern continues. I still like them, I think, but I know I don’t like their most recent output.
This album might leave you feeling a bit confused about what you just heard, don’t try to convince yourself it was worth the money. What you’re feeling is the empty edge of disappointment. You could almost say In Flames have lost their Sense of Purpose (probably not the first time someone's said that).
50% isn't a fail, but your dad still might beat you if you got that on your report card. Unless you are retarded. Which you probably are if you like this album.
Well..for this review I will be as more sincere as I can (let's say that I'm GOING TO BE sincere).
I believe that Anders is the only guilty for all the bad words or cd reviews given to In Flames: he really ruins the songs, I didn't like Anders' voice anymore since Colony came out (I like more his growls of Whoracle).
For the time before the cd came out (well, it is not in stores yet but I've been listening to the cd on In Flames myspace page in stream), I've been asking this: "Will ASoP be like their latest 3 cds of New Wave of Gothenburg Metal? Or will it return to old stantards as in Lunar Strain or next 2 cds?" This sentence might be ridicuolous if read now, but, you know, many bands change their style and then after some years return to old canons. So I've been expecting that this album would have been like Come Clarity, and it is. Yeah, there are some changes compared with STYE, RtR and Come Clarity, some in good and some in evil.
So, after this brief introduction, let's start with the real review.
The album can be divided into two sections: the firt 6 tracks and the last 6.
I think that the first part is the worse part of the cd (well, neither the last is so beautiful..): both guitars are relly SUFFOCATED by the drums and that gay voice of Anders like coming out from a dying and suffering man; the guitar sound is absolutely disgusting: low gain, low volume, high palm muting => worst setting ever. The album starts with an intro that I really don't like. There are many songs in this album that start with alone guitars in palm muting with that sound that seems like the Sum41 one, or some other gay punk bands. Instead, I like much the enter of the drums in that section, bass drum in 16th as Daniel can do well. Well, let's say this all: this is a great song from 14 seconds to 50 (pity for the low gain and volume of the guitars). I do like the mini solo at the beginning of the song, it reminds me somewhat of The Jester Race or old In Flames anyway! The rest of the song is the repetition of this first verse and the really gay intro, as only Anders can do so good in these years!!
Ok, I'm not that kind of person that is anchored to old styles and rebel to a style changing of their favourite bands (as In Flames are for me), so I got to say that These songs are still listenable and likable, even if they are gothenburg metal no more (neither melodic death, they are a rock band now). Songs like this, and all the ones of the Come Clarity album are listenable by many people, so I think this is their best weapon to get known by many people standing out of the metal scene. Other songs of the cd have a really nice intro (pity for the same low gain), but when Anders's voice comes in it becomes a ruin: his gasps and the high pitch with his voice at the end of every sentence makes me laugh, he seems sick (and ridiculous!!). What is ridiculous in Disconnected (added to his voice) is the text..On the first listening I heard "I feel like shit but at least I feel something"...I wondered "Oh my god, it can't be!", I rewinded and listened again: "I feel like shit but at least I feel something!!". Oh my, this is a really emo lyrics!! The ending is the useless part of the song. Oh my, now there is a slow song with acoustic guitars, Sleepless Again!! Those guitars are ridiculous in songs like this! Ditto for the gay synth in the chorus (or it is the second (third?) guitar?). Bah, very disappointed on this song. It seems written in 10 minutes (I can write something very better of this in less time). Alias is the most pointless track of the album. The intro is ridiculous and seems like they're playing for a funeral (with that gay synth, bah). This song is the most representative example of repetition. Listen 2 times in a row this song and note down how many times the first riff is repeted through the whole song. 4? 5? I don't know, and honestly I don't care a lot. What I like in this song (ugh, I'm using the word "LIKE"!) is (I never pictured this) Ander's voice: I think it is a good screaming..ops! i didn't go on with the song!! I meant only the first seconds of the track! As usual, on the next track, I’m The Highway, I really like the intro, expecially the second part of the intro with the bass drums in 16th. But of course when Anders's voice comes in it all decays: that guitar riffs with those pauses after a couple of 16th are really gay and ridiculous. Does it create any trouble to play a normal riff with a complete beat? Ahah, there is also a solo from 2.30 on! I had to raise the volum almost to the top to hear that! It is very low!!The intro of Delight And Angers is the same of The Mirror's Truth, the first verse is the same of the previous 5 tracks, everything is becoming the same in this album; same bridge from the verse to the chorus. All repeted 2 or 3 times. I suppose 2 times (only 3.41 long).
The second part of the album is more strong, powerful, heavy; finally guitars have a higher gain and volume and are not totally suffocated by the drums or Anders's "screaming". Also his voice seems changed, his clean choruses seem better, also his screams seem to be better pitched and controlled (but with usual gasps at the end of the sentences).
Move Through Me is maybe the best song in the album, I really like this song. It has a Nevermore intro and a sound like Soilwork use to have in their songs. If there hadn't been Anders's voice i would have confused this song with a Soilwork's one. I do like the chorus, is really listenable (the synth is not bad this time), and I love the choruses played in this way, with series of 3 16th mixed with 4 16th, making a Soilwork well-done sound. Good track this, also the chorus. The Chosen Pessimist is the first ballad of the album. It is a very slow (108 bpm) and long track (8.16); it is all played with clean electric guitars and clean voice (with a chorus with a female voice, I hope it is not Anders's second session!). Only at 6 minutes the distorted guitars enter, continuing the same riffs of the beginning. It is a nice ballad, makes me the same effect when I first heard Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (after listening to the previous 4 albums). Now there’s another cool intro with very fat and heavy guitars: Sober and Irrelevant. This song is almost a complete song, not so repetitive, various. This is one of the best together with Move Through Me. I don't have much words to say, it has a good solo, a good growls sometimes and a good clean vocals by Anders. Well done track. Condemned has a nice intro with the drums and a thrashy guitar on it like Lamb of God can do or something progressive (even if it is absolutely not progressive). The solo is very beautiful, also the post-solo, when the solo-instrument is the mysterious synth: the guitars play a heavy riff with the 6th string associated with the bass drums. Nice. Drenched in Fear has again a beautiful intro, also the riff after the intro with the solo guitars combined together with the typical 5th (or 4th) scales. The first verse is well played by everyone (the bass is repetively doing 2 16th with the last string), although the chorus is well played with high pitched notes on the guitars (I think from the 7th fret). Between the second chorus and the third (2.18) there is a really beautiful riff, Amon Amarth's rythm style mixed with the little part after the riff with two gutiars. Just gorgeous. Did In Flames learn to play intros? Haha, in March To The Shore there we have another beautiful one. It's a pity that the chorus is not well linked to the rest of the song. The bridges between the choruses and the following verse are really beautiful (as the previous track). The solo is like the chorus: it doesn't have nothing to do with the rest of the song. Anyway, the intro part is really very beautiful.
The 3 bonus tracks for the japanese release (ERASER, TILT and ABNEGATION) are surely the best of the album, it's a pity that In Flames decided to make them as bonus tracks, they sound like 2000's melodic death metal style (Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames itself).
So, summarizing up, I'm doing the average of the marks given to each song (bonus tracks excluded) to give the definitive rating: 65+45+40+30+30+30+80+80+75+75+70+70 divided by 12 = 57.5, rounded off to 58. (including the bonus tracks it could be 63, so it doesn't change a lot).
It's a pity that the rating is so low, but the first 6 songs say it all: this album is half beautiful and half ugly.
Recommended songs: Move Through Me, Sober And Irrelevant (and the three bonus tracks for you, japanese readers).
This is catchy, a lot like how Clayman is catchy, in fact I'd go as far to say that this is Clayman with a mix of Come Clarity. However, at the same time, this is also arguably In Flames' most melodic album to date. When it blasts and it gets all in your face, it does not do it anyway like how it is done in thrash or death metal, the style is closer to power metal, but it is not really power metal in the sense of speed metal mixed with dragons and thrash, but rather power metal in that the songs themselves carry the power of the album.
Ironically, the production, especially with how the bass and guitars are mixed, is probably the weakest as it has been on any In Flames' album. It is somewhat overproduced, and softened up a bit too much, there is not as much intensity to the guitar sound. Reroute to Remain had that palm-muting squeak that is heard in songs like Minus and Trigger, while STYE had an interesting reverberation that at least gave the guitars a good sound on that album and Come Clarity had an in your face death-metal style crunch. However, the songwriting is well done, unlike on those last three albums, and the hooks offered by the guitars with their harmonies, solos, and ...dare I say...riffs, are actually really really good.
I do not think In Flames' was going for an intense album here. If anyone has followed the studio diaries back in October/November, you can see that they did not go into the studio with frowns on their faces. Often times, Daniel Svennson would crawl around naked (and the creature on the cover of this album reminds me of that in a way), making cat sounds and drinking stolen energy drinks, with the final episode showing him eating a roll of recording tape. This album seems to carry the lighthearted atmosphere of the recording process, and at the very least In Flames does that very well.
The lyrics are pretty much the same kind of subject matter that In Flames has been putting out these past few albums. How those lyrics are belted out have somewhat changed, however. Anders Friden briefly returns to using his old death vocals on the songs Disconnected and Drenched in Fear, and his main vocals are sort of a mix between clean singing and aggressive vocals, but there are hardly the whiny screams of Reroute to Remain, and absolutely no Elmer Fudds from that album either. Anders is not trying too hard to sound emotional, now it seems his voice has become natural to him.
This is not quite a return to form for In Flames, but it is a vast improvement over Come Clarity, and it is clearly their best since Clayman. I give this an 83/100.
I feel like shit! When I first heard that sentence being sung I literally stopped my listening and backed the song to make sure I had heard right. "I feel like shit! But at least I feel something" , that is the exact and complete sentence. It was obvious that In Flames was becoming more and more emo since Clayman and this album makes no exception. While this is way better than Soundtrack to your escape, it goes in the same direction than Come Clarity: « melodic » and not heavy.
The album starts off with the mentally retarded single "The mirror's truth". I thought I had heard simple and "non-heavy" music before, but this track sets new highs. While this song is catchy(which in itself is not a good thing), it contains one of the gayest choruses of all time! It ranks alongside the "come clarity" and "reflect the storm" choruses in the "top 5 gayest thing humanity could ever create". This makes any intelligent listener impossible of even listening to this song and saying it is a "guilty pleasure".
The rest ot the album is pretty much divided in two: the first half and the second half. On the first half of the cd, you have utterly useless and emo songs which all sound the same. "Alias", for example, is 100% useless, boring and repetitive. The six first songs have a Come Clarity-like production, with the guitars not to clearly defined and the drum standing out not too bad. However, the second half seems to be taken from a different album. While it by no means better, it sounds more like if it were taken from Soundtrack : "fatter" guitars and more "agressive" sounding. The effect is, however, not achieved. The songs are less melodic and faster paced but ,again, are not catchy, not interresting, not technical, not melodic, etc. They're simply pointless.
While the guitars have an interresting Peavey 5150 tone and the drum stands out pretty well, Anders destroys (again) each and every possible interresting moments of music. One of the reasons In Flames was so great back in the Whoracle days was Anders' deep growls. Now, he sounds like he had his balls removed and is crying to get people to give him their loose change. That being when he "growls". When he tries to sing "clean", things get even worse. This band would sound way better if they assumed their newly acquired emo status and got a real emo singer who can sing "properly" in a gay voice. Now what he have is this guy who tries to sound like lame commercial stuff and is not even able!
I wasn't expecting much from this album after being repeatidly deceived with In Flames releases: I got was I was expected. This album is bad, and goes in the same way In Flames' been going for the last 5-6 years: mainstream. I don't have a problem with mainstream in itself, the problem I have is when you're becoming mainstream (and not metal anymore) but keep pretending you are real metal! It only gives a bad image to real metal.
Well, we all know that In Flames had a lot of expectations to live up to with this album. In my opinion, they met said expectations, but without exceeding them in any way. After the greatness that is Come Clarity, I expected an absolutely flawless album, and A Sense of Purpose is not perfect. Sure, it offers some glimpses of perfection (A Sense of Perfection, if you will), but falls barely short.
So lets start off with the song-writing found on the album. Song-writing has always been In Flames strong point, and this album allows them to flex their muscles yet again. Every single track is brilliant, although one will quickly notice the lack of any complex song structures. The track "Alias" is sure to go down as one of their classic songs; look for it on any future greatest hits compilations.
The riffs on the album are as masterful as ever. Some of the riffs sound slightly rehashed, but it doesn't deter from the overall feel of the album. These guys make riff-writing look so easy. Take the track "I'm The Highway" for instance. It is full of multiple brilliant riffs without being a particularly exceptional track. These guys have perfect riffs to spare. The guitar solos are actually something of a weak point on the album however. They are, on the whole, best summed up by something my brother said: "Wow, that solo sounds oddly technical and distasteful for an In Flames solo".
The drumming is as interesting as ever. I'd even go as far as to compare the drumming to some of their older material. It brings back memories of great drum lines and fills as found in now-classic tracks like Clayman's "Only For the Weak". It is a shame that the drums are mixed so low on the album though. A mix more akin to an album like Hate Eternal - Fury & Flames would have been more appropriate, because the drumming here is interesting enough to warrant one's complete focus throughout the album on occasion.
Like the recent EP, A Sense of Purpose isn't the greatest technical performance given by Anders. The album is laden with so many great vocal hooks that the poor performance rarely detracts heavily, however. Even weaker tracks like "Delight and Angers" has an amazing sing-along chorus. Frequent use of clean-harsh overdubbed vocals starts to sound stale byt he end of the album, but maybe it's better than listening to Anders try to squeeze out an uneffected vocal spectacle. Not all of his vocals are subpar though. His higher harsh register is still excellent (see "Move Through Me").
Yet again, In Flames shows all the synth-abusing bands out there right now how to tastefully incorporate the instrument into an album. "Sleepless Again" and "Move Through Me" are both excellent examples of synth use that noticably adds to the song instead of being forced into the song-writing.
Overall, this album has everything fans love about In Flames: the unstoppable riffs, the unqiue drumming, the sing-along vocal melodies and unique vocals, as well as the flawless addition of synth passages. Is the album completely groundbreaking for In Flames? No, but it is at least comparable to most of their past catalogue. The 8-minute power ballad "The Chosen Pessimist" really shows a growth in maturity as the band settles into its place atop the current metal world. Seriously, listen to "Alias" (and the whole album, for that matter) and you can easily tell how they got to where they are today.
In Flames has always been a very hit and miss band with me. In my opinion, Whoracle is one of the greatest death metal albums ever created, along with Death's Symbolic, Dark Tranquillity's The Gallery, and Suffocation's Pierced from Within. At the same time, I found Colony good but underwhelming compared to the work that came before it (and I can't get over the fact that Anders was rapping on Scorn), Reroute to Remain was In Flames jumping on the Nu Metal bandwagon right when it was about to die, and Soundtrack to Your Escape was one of the worst albums that I've ever heard in my life and I still shudder when I think about the Touch of Red video.
Thankfully, Come Clarity was a breath of fresh air, and even though the track order seemed disorganized, I truly enjoyed that album since I was capable of accepting that In Flames was never going to make another Whoracle and I was just happy that they were going to go back their death metal roots while at the same time progressing.
That brings us to 2008. Again, this isn't Whoracle Pt. 2, but I've grown accustomed to the fact that In Flames won't again even try to recreate such a great album. I will admit that I was put off by the first two tracks that I heard. The Mirror's Truth started out good but then it degenerated into Anders' clean vocals which had too strong of a contrast with the heavy sound early in the song. After that, I heard Disconnected and was happy to hear Anders bringing back the grunts that he used back on The Jester Race, but I couldn't get past Anders singing the lines, "I feel like shit, but at least I feel something." It seemed like In Flames was selling out to the emo crowd and that In Flames was taking a step back after they just took a huge step forward. Then again, I’m longing for the days when Anders sung about a “squirrel wheel” which doesn’t come across as great poetry either. Thankfully, Jesper Stomblad isn't truly THAT stupid, having already turned In Flames into one of the most hated metal bands of all time. As a whole, this album sounds like a good - although very mainstream - progression from Come Clarity, with a good amount of Clayman’s sound thrown in. It's nothing mind-blowing but it's still well done.
There is a lot to like here, whether it's the solo on Sleepless Again, the folkish acoustic passages that bring back memories of The Jester Race, or some of the chunkier Come Clarity-style riffs on Move Through Me, there is a lot for an In Flames fan to like, even if they sound a bit too accessible much of the time.
One big plus to this album is that Anders finally seems to have grasped the concept that he isn't a great vocalist before he got around to recording this album and while there are some truly horrible vocal parts, he actually sounds good for once and the listener is finally capable of actually listening to the vocals rather than trying to get past the vocals and listening to the guitars. I don't know exactly what happened in the course of two years, but I know that I like the results. This is especially apparent in the track The Chosen Pessimist. This track is exactly what the title track on Come Clarity tried to be. Sadly, Anders' voice cracks early on in the song, but he does sound better as the song goes on and it actually becomes one of the stronger songs on the album. (Note to Anders: learn what Pro Tools are so you aren't forced to use the least crappy take on an 8 minute song.)
So even with all that's actually good with this album, it does lose some points for not trying to bring any new ideas to the table, as well as being even more mainstream than Reroute To Remain. That being said, I wasn't expecting this album to be anywhere near as good as it is. I was planning to rip on this album extremely hard after hearing the first two tracks, but this is far batter than I expected it to be and is accessible enough to be the best starting point for somebody new to In Flames.