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After releasing the controversial "Reroute to Remain" in 2002 and the even more maligned "Soundtrack to Your Escape" in 2004, In Flames returned to the scene with "Come Clarity" in 2006. This album has had some of the most polarizing opinions within fan base of In Flames, as well as metal fans in general. For me, this album was my first taste of the band. Sitting in my eighth grade English class, I was recommended this band by a good friend. He also recommended the tracks "Clayman" and "The Mirror's Truth", the latter of which had only been out for a few months at that time. However, it wouldn't be until later that I heard those cuts, as after "Come Clarity", I listened to this band's discography entirely in order, from "Lunar Strain" and beyond. "Come Clarity" was an amazing experience for me. Even to this day, I can always go back to it and it manages to make me feel better when I need it the most.
Musically speaking, within the time period of the "modern" albums from "Reroute to Remain" to "Siren Charms", "Come Clarity" probably is the closest representation to the band's melodic death metal sound of old. It basically contains 60% of the modern, more "alternative" sound that almost resembles melodic metalcore, and the 40% remaining is melodic death metal. This album still is often shunned by many of the band's "old school" fans but compared to any album after 2000, it seems to be the "lesser of all the evils". The guitars are extremely well played and effective throughout. The melodic riffs dance around a barrage of drums and a mixture of harsh and clean vocals quite nicely. The album's opener "Take This Life" is probably the biggest track on here in terms of popularity and is one of those songs that sounds more like In Flames' older stuff, while still retaining that modern sound. There is a cleanly sung chorus but the riffs are fairly typical of Gothenburg melodic death metal, and most of the song is still preformed with harsh vocals. All of these songs are insanely catchy but that really doesn't degrade the musical quality. "Crawl Through Knives" contains some of the best, most melodic yet still absolutely metal riffing on the album and a funny chorus to me, because when Anders says "it's in my hands", it actually sounds like he's saying "it's in my ass". This may appeal to the immature little kid within all of us. There are a lot of mellow moments on the album as well. The title track is basically a ballad with a very sad overtone that sounds absolutely wonderful, and the album's closing track "Your Bedtime Story Is Scaring Everyone" is mostly an electronically ambient piece until the distorted guitar comes in. This is also the longest song on here, running at 5 minutes in length. It's a really disturbing yet wonderful way to close the album.
The vocals are probably my least favorite aspect of the album, although they aren't even bad. When Anders using clean vocals more often with "Reroute...", his voice sounded painfully awkward and just not good. Here, his cleans still have a bit of an awkward sound, and this takes away from the experience a little bit in my opinion. Even though he still sounds uncomfortable here and out of place, his cleans have definitely improved. They would improve a bit more on the albums to come, although this album overall is much better than anything that would follow it. His harsh vocals are screams which sound like they have since "Clayman", as I feel that is the album where he really changed the pitch in his vocals. There aren't any death growls on here to point out, instead, just a common screaming technique used in most modern melodic death metal albums. The song "Dead End" contains vocals from the Swedish female pop singer Lisa Miskovsky and wow, she sounds amazing! I haven't listened to anything she has done outside of this collaboration with In Flames, but she really adds some depth to this duet. You can hear Anders and her intertwining in this song's chorus and it sounds so much better than it would have if Anders just took on the chorus himself. This helps the song not sound awkward. Even with some awkward sounding vocals, this doesn't take too much away from the album, even if it still derails it slightly. On the title track, Anders uses only clean vocals, and the sound still sounds solid overall.
I'm aware this album still receives a lot of negativity from a lot of people, and that will likely never change. It is still the best album In Flames has done since 2000, with "A Sense of Purpose" probably being second and then everything else is somewhat of a hit or miss. Whenever I'm going through a dark period in my life, this album has been there to make me feel a little less like crap. Since 2008, "Come Clarity" has become a staple in my collection and I will always have it when I need it to be there for me.
Yeah, no. This is still modern In Flames we are dealing with here, as in, astonishingly shit metalcore/melogroove with some alt-rock and emo leanings here and there. Then again, this is by far the best of modern In Flames, and at times can challenge the likes of this band's mid-era. It is the usual, but with the occasional spark of brilliance that just comes out of nowhere. Certainly, it is a vast improvement over their absolute stinker of a turd pretending to be music that was Soundtrack to Your Escape. In fact, I think that album's very existence makes this sound that much better. So, congratulations In Flames... you still suck.
Musically, this thing is bland but not *completely* worthless. The best way I can explain what happened here is akin to the change that occurred between Whoracle and Colony - the band ratcheted up the energy and aggression in the riffs by a fair margin, while still clearly being cut from the same cloth. This is quite similar, to be honest, being comprised mostly of nu 'metal' chunking, with a fair helping of grooves and alt rock picking sequences, all of which are so predictable that this album just becomes a walking cliché. What separates the guitar work from the previous album is that the grooves and chugging are a fair bit more driving and harder-edged than before, but of course the crappy picking comes in to ruin everything. To be honest, there still isn't much of worth in the musical department, but it is a relative improvement over the cluttering shit that came before. The rest of the instruments do their jobs well enough, if nothing else. Svensson mixes it up fairly often with his hammering, relatively fill-happy style, but even then a lot of his work is just boring timekeeping beats, and the bass fulfils its supporting role well enough, even if it does nothing else at all.
Sadly however, any sort of signs of life In Flames may show instrumentally is completely killed off by the hideous, vomit-inducing performance of my least favourite vocalist in the entire world, Anders Fridén. Motherfucker grow some balls and stop doing these fucking fry screams will you?! He continues with his whiny, thin emo bitch screams that he has been using since Clayman, and are nearly as shite as they have been for the last two albums if not for the fact that the music underneath him is occasionally mildly interesting.
That said, his voice is almost tolerable and dare I say... appealing on a sort of angsty level during absolute melodeath scorchers like 'Take This Life' or 'Dead End' - the latter of which features some female guest vocals, which actually complement Anders well. Never thought you would hear me praise Fridén's modern performances, huh? Don't worry; I haven't completely fallen off the deep end, because no amount of teen angst in the world will make me forgive his completely sappy clean vocals, which are just whiny, weak, near-tuneless and shit. His emo crooning is some of the worst in the business, and gives Jonathan Davis a run for his money in who can sound like a bigger pussy while 'singing'.
The end result of all of this is probably In Flames' least consistent album to date. On the one hand, you have modern melodeath trailblazers like the aforementioned tracks, as well as 'Versus Terminus' and most of 'Scream' and 'Vacuum'. These show the band under pressure, they show the band with rekindled fire and energy to make something solid and powerful. Anders' screams almost fit in here, as stated, and the urge to headbang is strong with these songs. However, not only are these songs the exceptions rather than the rule, but the remaining 7 songs (once one discounts the title track and closer) are extremely interchangeable. They are all about the same length, use pretty much identical verse-chorus structures, stick to predictable riff and picking patterns, all have similar ratios of clean/scream vocals, and generally have nothing to define them, what with similar sounding riffs and all. Basically, the album has way too much filler for its own good, and with those songs, you have to listen to Anders' vocals due to the boring music, which makes them pure shite.
And we haven't even got to the worst bits yet. Hints of the clean vocals are present throughout the album, especially during the clean choruses of 'Take This Life' and what not, and are very difficult to swallow when the music is good. So imagine for a moment, how bad a song would be when you have his clean vocals exposed? Sure enough, you get the absolutely revolting radio ballad that is the title track and the unbelievably overlong and boring closer 'Your Bedtime Story is blah blah blah'. There really are no words for just how completely awful and whiny these songs are, rivaling the likes of 'A Boy Brushed Red...' for some of the most awkward and cringeworthy attempts at atmosphere ever conceived by any artist ever. Holy shit do these songs suck!
The production is clean and loud, and the album has a pretty nice low end in addition to a hammering kit, and is a massive step up from the hideous electronic layering of the last album. However... the vocals are far too loud, because they are audible. Therefore, this production job is an absolute failure. For fuck's sake studio engineers, did none of you bastards even *listen* to the prick at the mic?! (Oh wait, the prick at the mic produced it, which explains a lot.) And that pretty much wraps it up for this album. Musically it is inconsistent, ranging from kinda bad to pretty fucking solid, and the vocals range from pretty much tolerable to pure, unadulterated faeces. It has a few pretty neat tracks with some occasional cringe-inducing cleans, but for the most part it is just generic modern fodder with a bad vocalist. My verdict? Not quite 'Fucking Avoid' but just a plain and simple AVOID.
In Flames are a band that I've steered clear of for the most part despite my love of melodeath. I've been particularly careful to avoid their later works, which some metalheads will have you believe are the among the worst offences any band has ever committed. However, when listening to a random playlist the track 'Dead End' came on and instantly caught my attention. I figured that the rest of the album was at least worth a listen, and to be fair there are some good tracks on Come Clarity. However, to say it is any better than mediocre would be a lie.
Let's start with the good. 'Dead End' is the track that got me to listen to the entire album several times, so we'll begin with that. It's perhaps less melodeath than I would have thought I'd get from In Flames, but it's catchy and I find it really sticks in my head. Lisa Miskovsky's vocals help a lot in that respect, and as I'm a sucker for some good female vocals I find myself hooked by Lisa's voice. She fits in really well with the band actually, and it's sort of a shame that she's never worked with the band since. I don't quite find Anders as convincing, as his harsh shrieks aren't entirely to my tastes. However, 'Dead End' is certainly not the track that he performs worst on.
Besides this track, 'Come Clarity' and 'Crawl Through Knives' are the best cuts from the album. Both of these tracks feature the same kind of catchy chorus that was present on 'Dead End', and it would seem that the band are oriented towards writing music in a metalcore influenced style. The melodic sections are limited mostly to these choruses, and the rest of the time the music consists largely of chugging riffs that have little to no impact. There's usually a solo (or an attempt at one anyway) in each song, but most of them are far from convincing either. To be honest, I'm really struggling to think of many positive points for this album beyond the aforementioned choruses, and at least as far as the guitar is concerned that's the only time there's any kind of thought put into the music. Because the guitars do nothing other than chug away for a good 70% of this album the drummer seems to think he should do the same thing and insists on hammering away with the double bass and cymbal crashes in an equally amateur and uncoordinated way. It makes it all sound like one horrible mess, and several tracks become a pain to listen to.
As well as his crappy screams, Anders does offer some clean vocals. To be frank they would have to be pretty bad to be more of an irritation than his harsh vocals, and in truth his singing is okay. Not great, but at least okay. They're tinged with metalcore like the rest of the band's work across Come Clarity, but I think that actually works to Anders' advantage. They're particularly good on 'Crawl Through Knives'.
I would say quite simply to sum it up that this album does have some good moments, and the tracks that I've mentioned are worth listening to if you like modern melodeath. However, for the rest of the album In Flames are unable to find the same quality of song writing and it's mostly forgettable. Come Clarity is aimed more at the metalcore market than the melodeath scene that In Flames helped to create and so perhaps it's not entirely my cup of tea, but that doesn't excuse the lazy repeated patterns of chugs that comprise this album and lack of any kind of inspiration for at least half of this album.
I liked this one from the first time I heard it. I knew that after the release of 'Clayman', In Flames was rearing towards these different styles/genres being that of melodic death/groove metal if you will. So what's to be expected here is just different, it has it's moments musically, it features heavy songs with screaming, but the style is more laid back, less aggressive than prior releases even though their guitars are still tuned down a lot to I think B or C, guitarists (current) would know what they tune to on here. It is definitely more aggressive than their latest.
Since the aggression is still somewhat there in the music, I'm not going to knock it down or off because it's not like they've been completely transformed (yet). The music is not too fast it's more keyed into this sort of concept they're trying to achieve with their nowadays tunes. But I wholly disagree with critics yet again because I think that the music is what made me like the album because IT IS different yet still heavy just not as intense as their earlier works such as 'The Jester Race', 'Whoracle', 'Colony' and 'Clayman'. The past is borrowed from and differentiated.
I enjoyed the guest female clean vocals, I think that it was right to do, to show this change as their music just transgresses into a more thick sound with melodic/groove laden styles which fits nicely into their discography, just not as well as I think Jesper would've agreed with. But he was on the album, so it wasn't like they totally gave up their established genre, they still come forth through to make good compositions and just diversify. I'm not justifying their wanting to change it up, I'm saying that it's just a sort of transgression to "happier" forms of metal.
This one is one I can listen to repeatedly and not get sick of because of it's unique vibe. It's less dark as I pointed out, there are more clean vocals, slower musical tempos, not too many guitar solos, just good overall music to me at least. Other people can bash the album all they want and say they've totally sold out, but I don't think so. I think that they've just mellowed out and said basically that "we want to change things up as we're an older band and don't want to keep releasing the same stuff over and over". So yeah, they're into a whole different concept now.
Don't be swayed by naysayers spouting out things like "they're sell-outs", "their music sucks now", etc. Form your own conclusion because most of what they play on this album is a lot different than what they started with. A musical transformation. So they really want to hold this concept and I think play what they want, even though Jesper their founding guitarist is no longer with the band. Their style yes is different, but the music on here is still good and quality. I'd think twice about what the common rating is overall and say try it on YouTube and then go with that. To me, they're still awesome and the music still is too!
“Come Clarity” is a transitional album for In Flames. They combine their melodic death metal roots with a modern sound that has already been prominent on the previous records and add a mixture of experimental but at the same time more commercial material to this.
I have always been attracted by the experimental side of In Flames and that’s why I like this new part they have added to their sound most. “Dead end” is a duet with pop singer Lisa Miskovsky that is delivering a very confident job and sounds more focussed than Anders Fridén. This experiment is another beauty meets the beast duet and may target a younger and more commercial audience which may cause some problems to the traditional diehard fans. “Come clarity” is a calm power ballad and it speaks volumes when the band decided to chose this track as their title song as this track is a sign of change and progression for the band. It doesn’t sound perfect and confident yet but shows us where the band would go for on the upcoming records. The tentative title track “Crawl through knives” is probably the most diversified track on the album and combines the old and new face of the band in a perfect way. If I had to choose one single song to present this album to a fried, I would surely go for this one. The experimental sound sample collage on the closing “Your bedtime story is scaring everyone” is on the other hand the most unusual song of the band to that date and leaves the fans on an eerie, awkward and surprising note.
I must admit that I also like some of the modern death metal sound son the album. “Take this life” is a great and catchy opener and kicks the album off in a perfect way. The following “Leeches” has some keyboard samples and presents maybe the most melodic and catchy chorus of the record while the verses are filled with dark emotions. The memorable “Our infinite struggle” stands out with a great relaxing and dreamy middle part. “Reflect the storm” has a very melancholic and commercial chorus that proves us that Anders Fridén is trying out something new on this record.
This record is especially a transitional album for him. Fridén almost sounds schizophrenic at some points of the record. A part of his usual melodic death vocal skills and a good feeling for catchy and powerful choruses that he employs more than ever on this disc he has a lot of clean vocal parts that sound a little bit breakable, hesitating and whining at some points. He doesn’t sound confident enough to carry some of the songs and tries to find a new style, a new approach while keeping his own identity alive. Especially next to a confident guest singer, Fridén sound a little bit pointless in the duet and confusing in the harder tracks when he suddenly changes his approach in the chorus or bridge. When Fridén suddenly has a magic moment and a great feeling for an emotional performance, he really shines and stands out but when he fails with his approach, the songs stand out but mostly in a rather negative way. This album really rises and falls with his performance. But it was a necessary step and experience for him as he sounds different, more confident and even more diversified on the future albums and I feel that he evolved in an amazing way.
Another negative fact for me is that there are too many traditional melodic death metal tracks that all sound pretty much alike. The boring and faceless “Vanishing light” is probably the worst example but a part of a few little changes and courageous moments, songs like “Vacuum”, “Pacing death’s trail” “Versus Terminus” and “Scream” keep the band stuck in old habits and slow their development and their experimental side down to please to the fans. Those songs sound like many tracks that we have heard in better form on the previous records and don’t impress me so that I would consider them as fillers. Let’s note that I mentioned five songs which is almost half of the record and one of the main reasons why gave a lower rating to this objectively said important transitional effort.
In the end, this album might be either the last one that could still please at some points to the traditional fans or the first one that might please to those who have known and loved a more diversified, experimental and yet commercial In Flames that move away from their roots with big and confident steps to evolve further. A true fan and open minded metal maniac might though get used to both sides of the band and discover a rare pearl with this present album and pardon some weaker aspects. That's why it's hard to give an objective note to this album because it's about evolution, experiments and emotions.
If I had one single sentence to describe this album, I would go for this one: This record might honestly said be one of the weakest ones in the band's discography but maybe the most important one they have ever done.
Originally published in "The Wormwood Chronicles."
Ever get into a band and you really like them, and you feel special knowing that you like them so much, like they are an unknown treasure? Then, out of nowhere, someone you know starts to like them, and then eventually more and more people seem to be really into this band, and pretty soon you start to critique the way everyone else appreciates this band? That would be my relationship with In Flames. Fantastic band, got into them around when "Colony" first came out, and I continued to like them even though I hated the last, gawdawful excuse for Swedish metal, "Soundtrack to Your Escape”, but right around when the "Trigger" E.P. came out and that damn video was all over MTV2's Headbanger's Ball, it seemed that all these hardcore and metalcore and emo kids started to get really into them, and so therefore when the aforementioned gawdawful "Soundtrack..." came out, I really started to hate this band just for their fanbase. I felt as though their music and their sound was being compromised so that their new fans could more easily grasp them and therefore us seasoned-vet In Flames fans were being left out to dry.
And then the band release "Come Clarity" as a slap in the face to this concept that I have conjured up...
Truth be told, I didn't hold out much hope for this release. Not only was it's immediate predecessor a watered-down version of the real deal, but now with having left longtime label Nuclear Blast for more hardcore pastures on Ferret Music, the label run by Nora frontman Carl Severson, I was really worried. But this CD is awesome in every way shape and form. This uber-inspired disc is just what the band needed to put out. The songwriting is the best it's been since "Colony", and the sound quality is comparable to "Reroute to Remain", although with a more delicious sonic palate (crisper, for sure). Drummer Danny Svensson puts in his most ambitious performance since he joined the band, and guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Jesper Stromblad churn out their best interplay in ages, playing the melody card to their advantage every time, and throwing in some downright pummeling riffage.
And how about Anders? Remember back when us fans all thought he was starting to go a little kooky and we thought that he had this goofy idea about being some Swedish Jonathan Davis? Yeah, forget it, it’s gone!!! Here again, is the best performance in ages actually, probably ever by the frontman, as he demonstrates a further developing melodic sensibility and clean singing approach best exemplified on the amazing second song Leeches, and his screaming simply has not been this good since at least “Clayman”.
All in all, I am most pleased and this is probably going to be the best $10 (it was on sale) that I spend for the majority of the year. This is a return to form for the band and I think all former fans who gave up after the last few disappointments should give it a shot. Kudos, much Kudos!!!
In Flames has been well known for being one of the pioneers of the melodic death metal genre. And of course, they deserve that recognition. However, over the years, they seem to have lost their touch for what they used to do. True to its roots melodeath is not what In Flames is all about. They’ve become what I guess can be called melodic alternative metal. And now, throughout the metal community, they’ve received a lot of negative attention for this genre transition and one can most likely say that they’ve “sold out.”
However, I’m one of those people who tries to find the good in whatever music I listen to, sometimes it’s quite hard. For this particular album, I didn’t find it very difficult to find good in it. On the opposite side of the argument, in some spots I did find it very hard to enjoy.
In Flames did this with Soundtrack to Your Escape as well, put one of the album’s better tracks first to catch your attention. “Take this Life” opens up the album and comes in with a heavy beat. The verses aren’t particularly well constructed since it’s basically with the same few notes played in a heavy manner while Anders is screaming over it. However, the chorus has a nice tone to it. The instrumentals have some rhyme and reason to them this part of the song and they nicely compliment Anders’s singing.
Throughout the album, the instruments are pretty hit and miss with their decency. In “Leeches,” the whole thing seems to crawl along like something that shouldn’t be crawling along. The verses have almost a disgusting sound to them. However, in “Reflect the Storm” the guitars have a great tone to them and you don’t feel like your ears are bleeding.
And what In Flames review would not say anything about Anders’s vocals? As I said with the instruments, the vocals are kind of hit and miss as well. He seems to have developed a signature whine to his clean vocals that upsets metalheads to no ends. The way I see it, if it’s properly complimented by the music, it’s not as much of a problem. The clean vocals in “Crawl Through Knives” are fantastic in the chorus and you’d almost swear it was a completely different person singing. Also, his screamed vocals seem to have the same effect. In some songs, they’re fine. In others, they annoy the living hell out of you.
I feel the title track is worth mention. “Come Clarity” is definitely a ballad and it is definitely played like one. A soothing acoustic intro opens up which leads to another equally soothing acoustic riff. During the verses, the instrumentals are still acoustic and Anders uses some sort of odd half-singing, half-talking voice which goes well with the tone of the song. The chorus comes in with heart melting whining singing that is one of the better uses of clean vocals on the album. The solo is very emotional and catchy at the same time. Just because this song is very un-metal, that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. Though same may not find this song up to par. It all depends on your opinion of ballad songs.
Definitely, the best track on the album is “Crawl Through Knives.” As I mentioned earlier, the clean vocals are very well executed and are the best on the album, if not, the best clean vocals by this band period. The guitars are well played and the melodies are very well written. The lyrics also reek of inspiration. The chorus is:
“It’s in my hands the sky,
So bright it’s burning,
It’s for me to decide,
If flames will reach heaven tonight”
Usually while I hear these words I find the urge to sing along. They make one want to get up and seize the day. However, this is one of the only songs on the album where the lyrics can’t be considered emotional garbage. Lyrics can be emotional as long as they are well written. This particular songs is one of those instances.
And finally, the album comes to a close with “Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone.” It begins with a peaceful keyboard melody that you can almost fall asleep to, and I mean that in a good way. But after two minutes or so of the same thing played over and over again, the songs explodes into a mess with, once again, Anders just kind or screaming and whining at the same time with guitars that seem to be thrown on there just to make it sound heavier.
In conclusion, Come Clarity is a decent album depending on your tolerance level of Anders’s vocals and lack of brutality. Personally, I find it acceptable enough to listen to, but not enough to go out proclaiming how amazing it is. If you’re a fan of their newer works, go nuts, because this album is probably for you.
Highlights: “Come Clarity,” Crawl Through Knives”
Low Points: “Leeches,” “Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone”
Modern metal is a term that I never really understood the meaning of, apart from being just a cute little name for new albums by bands who want to be contrarian in spite of inevitably sounding a lot like everyone else. When I hear bands define themselves using this term, the general outcome is either industrial sounding bands that don’t want to be lumped in with Fear Factory and Ministry, or emo/hardcore sounding metal bands in a pathetic state of self-denial. When hearing “Come Clarity” from start to finish, both of these results manifest simultaneously, yet oddly enough the result isn’t quite as offensive as it might appear.
In some respects, this album can be seen as schizophrenic in that it both embraces and denies what In Flames has gradually morphed itself into, a metalcore band with an odd fetish for industrial/gothic tinged keyboards. The riff work has somehow attempted to recapture the spirit of “Colony” and has ratcheted itself up to something bordering on thrashing at many junctures, though loaded with pop oriented cliché progressions and all the predictability of a clock pendulum. Consequently, more than half of these songs are all but completely interchangeable with each other and only the power ballad title song and the pointlessly dragging atmospheric closer “Your Bedtime Story Is Scaring Everyone” really stand out.
Nonetheless, there is a certain charm to this album that puts it in a different category from the rest of the lackluster melodic metalcore of this outfits latter day offerings. Fridén has truly embraced his inner emo self, often channeling the whiny character of Gerard Way with a bountiful helping of Matt Heafy, and only occasionally regressing back into his hack rendition of early 90s death shouts. While perhaps slightly more grating that the usual banality of his contributions to the band’s 1990s material, it is accompanied by a fairly frenetic and aggressive set of riffs and some solid drum work that makes it bearable. Perhaps the best comparison could be drawn to the post-Gus G era of Nightrage, or perhaps for a more time appropriate example, “Are You Dead Yet?” minus the flashy solos.
While it is important to keep in mind that “Come Clarity” is pretty far down on my listening list, I could see this as being something worthy of a pickup from the lower price tier of the bargain bin. A quick listen to “Take This Life”, “Dead End” and “Versus Terminus” will reveal a band that hasn’t completely forgotten their past and can still shell out some memorable ideas and slay at full speed ahead, the dopey hardcore gang choruses notwithstanding. For some reason, in spite of myself, I also find myself going back to the sappy title song as well for some unknown guilty pleasure that goes with liking an obvious radio oriented exercise. Something about that acoustic intro just seems to get me, though unfortunately I can’t say that this band has ever really been able to do that consistently for an entire album or even half of one of late.
When I read other reviews of this album, I see a lot of passionate praise or dismissal of this release. Both of those seem very unreasonable to me simply because 'Come Clarity' isn't an album worth that much emotion either way. I understand that I come at In Flames from a diametrically opposed viewpoint to most on the band- I basically skipped them almost entirely while I explored metal because I never got substantially into melodeath- but I still think the level of passion expressed about an album as plain and straightforward as this is misplaced. It's not as though anyone out there genuinely believes that In Flames is going to start playing melodic death metal again, so why all the furor around the band making another mainstream, accessible metal album for 14 year olds at Ozzfest? Because that's what it is: not offensive, not a travesty, and likewise not a triumph, but simply the work of a band who are putting in their hours for a paycheck. I've heard much worse. Granted, I regularly hear much better.
So apparently In Flames was a melodic death metal band at one point according to historical records heavily debated by the metal scene, but these days (and on this album in particular) they're playing what amounts to pretty straightforward US-style melodeath/metalcore. Clearly the sound on this record is heavily influenced by Killswitch Engage with its harsh-sung verses and clean choruses as well as the general melodic style, but there's more of a legitimate extreme metal influence on this record than is found in most albums from the same genre in the form of (brief) blast beats and a more visceral, aggressive sense of riffing than one typically finds in the pop-metalcore scene. This isn't to say this goes very far to make 'Come Clarity' a unique and compelling release, but it does make it more listenable and helps separate it from the pack of a million other, similar albums released in '06. Fridén seems like a capable vocalist, though his cleans come with a somewhat whiny, nu-metallish overtone that sounds like the holdover of a band that never really caught up with what was going on in popular metal. Were Ozzfest kids actually into this when it came out?
I can admit that most of the riffs are pretty catchy in that Killswitch Engage way- unabashadly pop or alt rock chord structures hidden through scale runs or chugging pseudo-breakdowns. They're pretty fun to listen to, though they do start to grate on the ear when the band has run through so many ideas of this exact style that they have to get more and more convoluted to keep up with the lack of new, simple ideas. I mean, it's an infectious style- that's why it's popular, and while I do tend to enjoy the more intense melodeath moments on this release, the silly, rather charming choruses do have their place. Frankly, I'd rather listen to an album like this than one of the million stuck-up-its-own-ass releases from the 'heyday' of the Gothenburg scene ('The Gallery', I'm looking at your dumb ass)- yeah, it's artificial, silly, and not particularly artistic, but at least the songs are paced well and the band evidences some capability at standard rock songwriting.
This all being said, of course this isn't a particularly good album- I'm struggling to think of a melodeath/metalcore record I've heard that actually grips me in a substantial way apart from 'I like the neat diminished riffs and the chugs), but at this point I'm willing to accept the genre as pop music and nothing more. And therein, I think, lies the problem with how most people judge modern In Flames. As I said before, this band is never going to go back to the old Gothenburg style. Never. They've decided to play what amounts to pop music, so let's evaluate this based on the canonical features of pop music. Does it feature catchy melodies? Yeah, definitely. A brilliant lead vocal performance that harmonizes with the melodic instruments in compelling and memorable ways? Not really but I like it anyway. Is it paced quickly enough to not get boring to the jaded listener? Yeah, I suppose, though a couple tracks could probably be trimmed off the end of this release. Overall: basically a success at pop songwriting, though hardly anything to write home about.
Actually, the more I listen to this the more I like it just because it pisses some people off. That being said, I like Lady Gaga for the same reasons. In Flames isn't (and I would argue never was) a particularly artistic and brilliant band, but when it comes down to it I'm more likely to put this on than anything from their older career- it's more straightforward and I don't have to wade through a bunch of boring riffs to get to the good ones. Of course this isn't a great album, and of course it doesn't live up to the absurdly high standards some have set for this band, but who really cares in the end? Sometimes you just want candy, and this is pretty delicious in small doses.
Seen by many as a return to the glorious days of old In Flames, Come Clarity divided metalheads almost as much as the previous two albums. Is it really a return to the bandâ€™s purer melodic death metal roots? Not really. Is it a good album? Pretty much, but it still doesnâ€™t beat their first 4-5 albums in terms of quality, not by a long shot. Come Clarity is a competent modern melodic death metal album by a still-talented band that unfortunately may on occasion attract the wrong crowds. Earlier this year when getting some albums autographed by the band Iâ€™ve personally been told by what could easily be called a scene kid that this album was his favourite In Flames album (his favourite overall band was Slipknot so yeah, go figureâ€¦).
Musically the album starts with its first single, Take This Life, which is incidentally one of the heaviest on the album, along with the (feeble) Scream. Fortunately Take This Life is pretty good, with In Flamesâ€™ characteristic melodic riffs (quite fast-paced for this particular song) and some of Danielâ€™s best drumming, whoâ€™s probably one of the bandâ€™s more talented members along with the two guitarists. The overall production is excellent, everything can be easily heard and the drums sound particularly solid, while a little too heavy on the cymbals at times. Having a solid opener like this one really helps the album develop (unlike Soundtrack to your Escape whose opener was about as good as the albumâ€™s reputation among metalheads). The following songs are some of the best new songs In Flames wrote since the Clayman album, including Leeches, Reflect the Storm, and the pretty cool duet on Dead End, with Swedish singer Lisa Miskovsky singing along with Anders in the chorus. Itâ€™s one of the better moments of new In Flames, as these songs are some of the most successful examples of the new In Flames: very melodic riffs combined with their general fast-paced song structure and good drumming, actually an improvement on some of their older stuff in that department, which creates catchy songs whose only real fault may be Andersâ€™ less-than-optimal vocals even though theyâ€™re not that hard to get used to. The bass lines, handled by Peter Iwers, are pretty good, helped by the great production, although nothing really outstanding.
Unfortunately the album takes a dive in quality after those first four songs, the aforementioned Scream being pretty damn lame and bland while trying to be all fast-paced and aggressive (In Flames are melodic death metal and good at it; they should never, ever try to imitate thrash metal, since they horribly fail at it). The whole song has neither enough variation nor a solid, catchy chorus (which is after all one of the bandâ€™s trademark elements). After that sad attempt at aggression, they come with the albumâ€™s title track and its second single, which isnâ€™t too bad but Andersâ€™ clean vocals arenâ€™t the best ever (then again; *remembers The Chosen Pessimist*). Still, itâ€™s a pretty strong song, with a decent acoustic guitar intro and it even has a nice melodic solo although it doesnâ€™t touch their old technical wonders such as the one on The Hive, off Whoracle.
Now weâ€™re approximately at the halfway point in the album and the point where the previous Soundtrack to your Escape turned from good music to songs which somewhat lacked variation. Fortunately Come Clarity fares somewhat better, at least for a while. Vacuum is aggressive, almost reminiscent of the half-hearted attempt at thrash on Scream but also features an excellent melodic and catchy chorus. Then comes Pacing Deathâ€™s Trail, an excellent melodic death metal song which is on par with the best of mid-era In Flames, as is the case for the subsequent Crawl through Knives, featuring the best melodic riffs on the entire album and a chorus that rocks to top it off. Andersâ€™ vocals, both clean and harsh, are truly strong on these last two tracks, a quality that slowly but surely gets rarer as time goes by. The last few songs lose some of the uniqueness that made the rest of the album great though. Donâ€™t get me wrong, theyâ€™re still good but none of them are anything particularly special. The album ends with Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone, a relaxing instrumental with some weird distortion/radio chatter in the background, until the last minute-and-a-half when Anders starts singing (badly) and a kind of hidden track starts which isnâ€™t amazing. The synths are pretty good overall though and itâ€™s a nice end to a good album.
Overall the album is quite varied. Itâ€™s one of those albums which are easy to listen to when doing something else, such as driving a car or playing a game, while still being able to appreciate the music and get it stuck in your head in an enjoyable way. The catchiness and diversity present in Come Clarity are pretty much trademarks for In Flames throughout their career except maybe the first album but itâ€™s still a functional formula which creates enjoyable albums, much better than the metalcore which was subsequently spawned by this form of melodic death metal.
So Come Clarity is pretty good, nothing breathtaking but itâ€™s still underrated, as is most of In Flamesâ€™ newer music. The album is a good example of newer melodic death metal done as it should be, unlike, say, Soilwork, and while the whole thing is far from perfect (some filler, some average vocals as well as a select few downright shitty songs), itâ€™s pretty damn good. The artwork on the album is pretty lame though and so is the notebook-style rough draft writing inside the booklet for the lyrics, which makes them both ugly and hard to read. I guess the artwork is a taste of things to come with A Sense of Purpose, whose artwork makes this look like one of Mesaccioâ€™s Renaissance masterpieces.
Well, this album was quite possibly the best album In Flames has released in recent years. Simple, yet beautiful in it's own right.
Although Take this Life and Leeches are rather poor, featuring Overly-heavy riffs and boring solos, the rest of the album is quite enjoyable. Lisa Miskovsky's vocals on 'Dead End' were truly brilliant and made the song what it is. Anders Fridén has continued with his sung choruses, which add a unique aura to the album.
The riffs are goodand catchy, and the acoustic sections in 'Come Clarity' are a nice change from the pounding riffs of the rest of the album. However, 'Scream' is possibly the most insulting piece of work the band has ever done. It is basically a thrash song with the odd melodic part thrown in here and there. Also, it's terribly repetitve. There's almost no variation in the riffs, and you need a high-quality sound system to hear any melody at all. That said, 'Crawl Through Knives' is the best song on the album, no question. A nice return to their old sound, but still keeping the new flare. Pounding riffs, melodic bridges, heavy choruses. Epic, simply epic.
The album is a good mix between old and new, which is something more and more bands are doing nowadays. Most crash and burn, but In Flames has done it very well. The lyrics are relevant and meaningful, and Anders' vocals really do bring them to life. All in all, a good album, well worth buying!
The past few years have certainly been up and down for In Flames. Being one of the supposed pioneers of the melodeath genre is a hard role to undertake, and even harder to maintain. So when Clayman came out, many cried foul and claimed that the band had sold out. The shit really hit the fan when Soundtrack to Your Escape came out in 2004; multiple singles were released, the band adopted a more ear-friendly style, and they continued to flirt with electronica/industrial overtones in the songs. Now, I think that the band jumped the gun when they said Come Clarity would be a return to form, because this sure as hell isn't Whoracle; but they were certainly correct when they said it would meld the best aspects of the old and new sound.
Ok, so what exactly did they bring back that everyone is ranting about? Solos and harmonies, firstly. Nearly all of the tracks contain some sort of soaring lead guitar work, especially on "Crawl Through Knives" and "Vanishing Light." Solos are also pretty commonplace here, too. Maybe not the face-ripping, shredding sort, but it's an improvement over palm-muted riffs that never stop. (Which still have their place here, by the way, but are used in a more effective way.) "Vacuum" contains some nifty neo-thrash riffage that switches up with a chorus that could be taken from the Colony album. Even through the reincarnation of harmonies and nifty guitar acrobatics, the band remain steadfast on the techniques used on Reroute to Remain and Soundtrack to Your Escape. Many of the leads used a backed by steady, palm-muted chords, and "Vanishing Light" has verses full of that. "Our Infinite Struggle" also starts and ends with an assembly of riffs that seem like better B-sides of what has been used on the past 2 albums, but the fiery opener "Take This Life" sees the bands infusing the two styles into a beast of thrashy, mean proportions.
Unfortunately for some of you, some things do remain intact that will make your skin crawl; mainly the sticky choruses and the electonic flirtations. "Leeches" contains a chorus that will catch ears for some, as it shows one of Anders' best uses of his clean vocals; but others will cringe at it and simply dismiss it as a sad attempt at emo or radio-friendly ear candy. "Dead End" is probably the most infamous track for using this technique, as the guys had the balls to bring in a Swedish pop singer to do vocals throughout the verses. Many scoffed at this notion, but listening to this track, I probably would have shot myself in the face if Anders attempted what this chick did on the song. ("Scream" is also guilty of this, but only because it almost sounds mallcore.) The title track has caught tons of flack for its acoustic characteristics, cheesy chorus, and all-around "softness." But truth be told, it's really not a bad track. It's a bit more on personal side, whihc is exactly what once needs before listening to "Vacuum." Outside of the choruses, Anders again proves that he is either loved or hated. His screams are significantly more developed and stronger than what was on the previous album, and revert back to the style used on Clayman.
Daniel's drumwork has gotten more aggressive and and daring in its scope, clearly displayed with the use of thrash beats on "Take This Life" and "Vacuum." There is a wider use of double bass here, which works well within the more raw essence of the music. The drum sound is relieving from the trash-can sound of STYE; things seem more natural this time around, and things are heard easier.
The production is a double-edged sword: it has a wall-of-noise effect to it, which helps and hurts it. The industrial flirtations on "Leeches" and "Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone" seem a bit muddled by everything else, but the fast-paced urgency of "Vanishing Light" and the opening track is only aided by the slightly distorted vocals, open drum sound, chunky-as-fuck bass, and lo-fi guitar distortion.
Come Clarity certainly won't bring any old-schoolers back, but does show a step in the right direction for the band.
Favorite tracks: "Leeches," "Vacuum," "Vanishing Light."
So, just to get it out the way, yes In Flames has changed A LOT, yes they aren't quite the Melodic Death gods they once were, yes they enjoy experimenting and don't seem to care who they alienate, and yes Soundtrack to Your Escape was a pretty big disappointment. That being said, Come Clarity seems like they might finally be taking a step in the right direction again. Whereas Reroute to Remain (which despite everyone's hatred for it, is still one of my favorite albums of all time) and Soundtrack to Your Escape saw In Flames trying to move away from their roots to a more commercial and poppy sound, Come Clarity finds them, at least to some extent, moving back to their older sound. Now by older sound, I'm not talking about The Jester Race or Lunar Strain, I mean Colony and Clayman, because the days of The Jester Race are gone, and I highly doubt they're coming back.
I wouldn't call CC a return to form so much as In Flames finally sounding comfortable with the music they make again. The music brings together most of the elements that In Flames has been trying to blend since Clayman. It has the energy of Colony, the electronics of STYE (albeit toned down greatly...thank god), the poppy sensibility and melodic vocals of Reroute to Remain, and guitar riff that, at least at points, recall Clayman.
That's not to say I think Come Clarity is perfect though, because it lacks a few things that In Flames still has left to perfect the sound I think they've been going for. Those elements being the return of the soaring guitars (there are hints of it throughout Come Clarity, but it's still lacking), and the less conventional song writing.
As a side note, I like Anders' voice, including his melodic singing, I think he just needs to get more comfortable with his voice (which if you listen to Reroute to Remain's singing and compare it to a track like say "Crawl Through Knives", you'll see that he's developed his voice quite a bit, so there's hope it will continue).
Basically what it boils down to is that I while I love Come Clarity, I see it more as a piece of something greater to come.
In Flames continue to be the forerunners of the Gothenburg melodic death movement and with that responsibility comes the curse of having a ton of other bands copy the style as it changes. In Flames have once again changed their sound (only slightly) on their latest album, Come Clarity.
Come Clarity is hardly a fitting title for this strangely mixed metal album. In Flames combined most of their previous styles into this album and then shook it all up to see what came out. Surprisingly, it’s a lot better than that explanation can give. The music if still has a lot of the keyboard parts that were present on their last two (and most controversial) albums – but now most of the keyboard parts are pushed towards the back of the mixing of the album. The most striking difference in the musical style is the way in which the guitars are presented. The guitars are less groovy then some previous efforts but not completely death metal styled as they were earlier in their career. It’s almost an exact 50/50 mix of the guitars on Colony and the guitars on Soundtrack to Your Escape.
For those of you who are new to In Flames, that means they are melodic and ferocious but with a little punch of modern metal. The album itself has the one of the best flows for an album released in the past year or so. And unusual as it is, the album actually progressively gets stronger and better towards the end of the album. Most albums pull a complete opposite of that – so if the first few tracks don’t ring your bell (they are more in the newer style of In Flames) don’t automatically turn of the music yet. Although, the last track still throws me for a loop every time I listen to the album. I say track because its not really a “song” per say – but an outro. The last track doesn’t really fit the theme of the album or the flow. It throws off my listening and I usually just skip it so that I can move onto a new album.
The most controversial part of In Flames in the last few releases was Anders different and ever more melodic vocal stylings. Come Clarity shows him revert back to death gutturals in the later songs but continue some of his baritone low speaking parts and “singing” at times and in the majority of the first half of the album. It’s a little of both worlds for In Flames. He really shines on songs like Scream and Pacing Death’s Trail. Come Clarity, the song, displays his use of singing more than the guttural stuff – but it also displays his clever lyrical style more than that.
His use of vague and intellectual word combinations allows interpretations to be placed within the context of the song. His array of lyrical writing places value on the listener to be able to put their own experiences into allowing his lyrics to range from very personal to societal to conceptual. Really this is the best part of In Flames and always has been.
Overall, Come Clarity is an improvement musically for In Flames but overall not near to par with their classics. On its own, the album is decently strong with faltering moments in the writing (mostly due to combining elements of all their previous music styles). So it’s good but not great. And on a side note, purely vain, the cover for the album isn’t very “metal.”
Songs to check out: Take this Life, Pacing Death’s Trail, Versus Terminus
Of the many available titles, I have chosen to review Come Clarity because this appears to be the point in the band's career where they have decided that no matter what they do, they're going to somehow garner even more popularity and appeal to an even larger fanbase of mindless sheep that are eagerly awaiting to eat their shit with a golden spoon... and unremarkably, they've delivered.
I hesitate to label Come Clarity the worst metal album of all time, just as I hesitate to label it the worst album in the band's discography, because either of those conclusions would imply that this album is worse than Reroute to Remain or, say, Soundtrack to Your Escape; two albums which I have developed a striking aversion to and that I believe are equally terrible in their own ways. Come Clarity is awful on an entirely different level though, because while RtR and STYE can possibly be written off as the band "experimenting" with different styles, Come Clarity is something of a mammoth accomplishment for In Flames - they have managed to convince many old time fans that the album is a return to form for the band; that it's a stronger In Flames; that they have redeemed themselves.
I am completely fucking baffled.
I'm not going to bother doing a song by song analysis of this shit, because every song is absurdly formulaic and pretty much the same. The formula works on some level, because I actually caught myself tapping my foot on numerous occasions while listening to this, and equally often I felt like I was supposed to be singing along with Anders fucking Fridén - who, by the way, sucks here more than he has ever sucked before. His screaming brings to mind the last moments of a rabid ferret as its lungs are methodically ripped out through its throat, and his "singing" is on a level of emo that I cannot effectively put into words (which is actually fitting, since the lyrics match).
The songs are chorus-driven and catchy as hell, but consequently amount to nothing more than really bad riffing, poppy and jumpy guitar melodies, and (as I mentioned earlier) sections where you will literally be compelled to look up the lyrics and start singing along. If this doesn't seem inherently bad, then I remind you that In Flames are considered a melodic death metal band, not a melodic pop-punk band.
A few songs in particular stand out -
"Leeches" kind of reminds me of a Machinae Supremacy track for the first 10 seconds or so, which is kind of cool, but it then turns into more or less total shit with a chorus featuring Anders singing "It burns, it rips, it hurts!" in a voice of such soaring and majestic magnitude that it shouldn't have any problems serving as the anthem to the listener slitting his wrists.
"Dead End" starts off slightly less than completely horrible, and then turns into an Evanescence song, with Anders actually harmonizing with the guest female vocalist in the chorus... I don't think much of it, but I guess it's something new for him. At around the 2:10 mark, the song features a guitar "solo" worthy of the poppiest of pop bands.
"Scream" starts off with a riff that I think I probably came up with one day when I was around 14 years old, playing around with my first freshly purchased electric guitar in my mom's basement. Seriously, it made me cringe.
The title track features a bunch of acoustic noodling, Anders singing in a processed and distant voice, and a ridiculously catchy chorus that will probably go down in history as a perfect example of what NOT to do if you're a band that's associated in any way with death metal.
"Crawl Through Knives" features a chorus that is... ugh... sounds like the guys found an anti-social high school freshman with sprinkles in his hair to perform guest vocals.
Every other track is basically some combination of the above tracks.
The biggest problem that I see with this album is the retarded juxtaposition of several disparate elements that should never, ever, ever be placed together in the same context. Any semblance of a cool riff is consistently destroyed by a sing-along emo chorus. Every attempt at a solo is crushed by the use of poppy melodies ripped straight from a Silverstein album. Every halfway decent roar from Anders is guaranteed to soon be drowned out by something that sounds like Korn's Jonathan Davis. For every good idea, there's something that comes along and completely nullifies it.
Another problem with this album is the mixing/mastering job. It sucks. Bad. There's audible distortion in several areas, and the whole thing is just loud as fuck. Listening through the entire album is an exercise in monotony.
Anyway, Come Clarity isn't a return to form for In Flames. In many ways, they've actually moved even further away from what originally made them a tolerable band, and I don't see them making any kind of effort to remedy that. This will probably be the last In Flames album I buy... but then again, I said the same thing about Soundtrack to Your Escape.
All in all, horrible.
How funny that some fans are calling Come Clarity a return to form for the band. Are you nuts? I have to wonder what they're listening to, because this is just more of the same nu-metal nonsense they've been releasing the last few albums. However, this time the band added some scattered twin guitar melodies here and there to try and prove to long-time fans of band that they still are the melodic death band they've always been. Hahaha, yeah ok. Now don't get me wrong, this album is a step in the right direction when compared to the Soundtrack to Your Escape album, but it's nowhere even close to where I'd like them to be.
Well let's talk about some things that are wrong with this album. You don't have to look very far. The song title "Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone" immediately comes to mind, and while it's just a pointless outro filler track, that has to be the stupidest song title I've ever heard. It's something even Korn would find cheesy. Then they have some female pop singer doing vocals on the song "Dead End", and while she may be a talented vocalist, she sounds totally out of place. I won't even get into Anders' ultra-whiny chorus on the song "Reflect the Storm", because it'll just make me want to punch him in the face again. In fact Anders is the worst part of the band these days, with his vocals being terrible on all levels.
To make matters worse, now the band is signed to Ferret Records, an american hardcore label. And what does In Flames do now that they're on a hardcore label? They pick out the dumbest "hardcore style" artwork they can find and use it for the cover! This artwork does not represent the In Flames that I know and love; it represents some stupid band that hops from different trends to make themselves more popular, which is exactly what In Flames have become.
I'd also like to mention the bonus "live in the studio" DVD. What a joke this thing is! If you can get past Anders doing his best Jonathan Davis impressions with his stupid hair bouncing around, you have the entire band playing the album live in the studio. A nice idea, but the only problem is that they're just playing along to the audio of the actual CD. So it's really not live in the studio, is it? How lame is that? Excuse me for being ignorant, but if you're going to film the band playing through all the songs in the studio, then why not use the live audio of them actually playing the songs?! Were they that sloppy at playing their own songs that they were embarrassed to put the real audio on the DVD, and just threw on the album audio to try and fool us?
To sum up, this is still the pitiful In Flames that we've had to endure with the last few albums, but at least this one is slightly better than the Soundtrack to Your Escape album. When they break out into those occasional twin guitar melodies in the middle of some songs I'm brought back to when the band wrote albums that really mattered, but then just as I'm starting to enjoy it they go back into some stupid heavy riff that a thousand other bands are playing these days. I give this album 10 points for somehow convincing me to purchase it, and 15 more points for the band adding back in a few actually decent twin guitar melodies.
Let's face it: regardless of whether or not In Flames could put out something like Cynic's "Focus," metalheads will hate them regardless of it. And since that's out of the way, if you're reading this just to pass time and you hate In Flames with a burning passion, just stop.
In Flames started out as the main pioneering group behind the Gothenburg movement. Arch Enemy, Hypocrisy and Dark Tranquillity have all had their respective merits, but when someone names themselves as an In Flames fan, you can run their entire discography through your head. "Yeah man, "Embody the Invisible" is a badass track." Such albums as "Whoracle," "Lunar Strain" and "Jester Race" are immediate classics, but were unfortunately tainted by a string of albums with a much more mechanized and less metal sound. Gone were the thick crunches and scandinavian melodic swaggers that embodied In Flames. After "Reroute To Remain"(Just a tangent, though: "Reroute to Remain" would've been a fantastic album if it were put out by any other band besides In Flames), the music just started to sink further into commercial garbage, which was paramount with "Soundtrack to Your Escape," one of the worst albums ever recorded.
So, now there's "Come Clarity," a little album no one really anticipated to do much. Yet, I'm hearing the closest thing to a rekindling of aggression that any Gothenburg band(Outside of Dark Tranquillity, they never made a bad album, per se) had made since Hypocrisy's "Virus". There's semblances of aggression speckled all over the record, but of course you've got Anders Friden completely shitting on everything with his Killswitch Engage-inspired vocals. Thus part of the 25% knock-off.
The music is the subject here. "Come Clarity" showcases In Flames' best songwriting since "Clayman." They've finally successfully integrated industrialized aspects without sounding like a pop band gone awry, immediately in "Leeches" the song has a industrialized beat that plods along with the groove, and actually sounds natural. Other than that, In Flames have finally seemed to've ascertained a sort of direction. "Reflect the Storm" is a progressive little tune that's saturated in melody, and comes with some pretty splendid drumwork.
Also adding to this album's intensity is the production. Bass-heavy and drum-emphatic, the guitars are loud and a bitty muddy whenever it comes to harmonization. A perfect example when dirty production can help an album so much more than shiney, squeaky-clean clear production does. If this album had kept the "Soundtrack to Your Escape" production, such heavy songs as "Scream" and "Pacing Death's Trail" wouldn't have that punch needed to keep In Flames from sounding like a clone of a clone of a clone of their own music.
However, don't let "Come Clarity" fool you. There's quality material here, of course, but In Flames aren't back up to par with their "Colony" game, here. Anders Friden's voice, I don't know how, actually got even more nasally than it was before. Even then, he takes it upon himself to sing every chance he gets. A grown, hairy Swede sounding like a teenage, faggy mall-scene American is not my idea of Metal, but whatever. "Dead End" is also another example of lackluster songwriting and commercialism still in the In Flames checking account. It features a duet with some chick singer, and overall, it's the most forgettable track on the entire album.
At any rate, In Flames get a C for either effort or a major, major fluke. I'd recommend "Come Clarity".
IN FLAMES - COME CLARITY, 2006
I cannot think of a sadder case than In Flames'. Being a successful band, having talented musicians, they proved to be a poorly inspired band early on, since only the first releases, namely "Lunar Strain" and "The Jester Race" (despite some recent unfair reviews) withstand the proof of time, sounding fresh and versatile after 10 years or so and still continuing to inspire mediocre copycats (nope, don't ask me about "Whoracle" or "Colony", I just think they are just regurgitated riffs) Now, after having pushed the envelope really hard with their two previous releases, "Reroute to Remain", a failed attempt to bring new blood into the band's sound, and "Soundtrack to your Escape", the definitive dive into the mainstream and perhaps the weakest, most disappointing album of 2004, they supposedly came back with a new album. Let me tell you something, don't waste your time with "Come Clarity", it's only a shallow, shiny skin, whose core is rotten beyond recognition.
I say this is sad because In Flames's musicians are great, I know them capable of great feats, because there are great solos here, maybe one or two worthy riffs and hell, some good melodic choruses. The problem is with the genre itself. Melodic Death should have an infinitely epic reach. Albums like Edge of Sanity's "Crimson" prove that flawlessly. Instead, the post-"Clayman", post-Soilwork trend consists of chorus-driven, easily listenable rock songs with very poor thrashy riffs, and the ultimate effect is the birth of a boring formula, a balance of three- or four-minute songs which ends up numbing the listener's enjoyment. Maybe the kids will hear it with excitement, but this is really nu-metal with solos. When I heard the first three songs, I said "Hey, let us give a chance to In Flames, maybe NOW finally they got it." but what a terrible mistake I did. They just try to impress the listener, featuring the strong contrast between a chuggy riff and a beatiful melody. There's nothing new in here, just the same thing they did in "Clayman", the same catchiness that wore off after just a few listens.
Even if the album is 49 minutes long, you won't see the end of it, since you discover the trick they do over and over again. After the second part of the albums starts, you'll be begging for it to end. The problem is the thrashy riffs, which franlky seem to me as if there were only one unbearable droning with no change at all, with just some moments of peace, but even those calculated and unimaginative (like the title track, "Come Clarity", with a good chorus but repetitive, or "Dead End"). To me, the worst thing about this album is the obscene complacency, the lack of unforeseeable invention.
The songs go nowhere, there is no intelligence that could have motivated the right changes in the structures, one can hear how uninspired the band really is: the already spent voice tricks by Anders, the all-too-known riffage, all point to the demise of a style. That's right, Melodic Death is near to its ending. As harsh as it may sound, this current In Flames- and current Soilwork-like blend of music has become a degradation for metal (as abstract and shallow as that may sound). I don't doubt for a second that this album will enlarge the quantity of sold copies but I think the final word is out: In Flames is as good as dead and they would do us a favour by not releasing more albums.
Give In Flames credit. Self-crowned leader Anders Friden and his merry band of suddenly hairy troublemakers know how to manipulate their market. After their 2004 release, Soundtrack to Your Escape, divided their fanbase into two very different and very spiteful camps, it would have been the natural inclination of any band to choose one or the other as their main base at the very real risk of completely losing the other.
But, Friden and company are too clever for such prosaic solutions. Witness their 2006 release, Come Clarity, which somewhat straddles the fence between the melodic sound of early In Flames and the newer thrash that has been their steady goal since Clayman, and promises to keep some members of both sides buying their releases. Replete with vocals that sound as if Jon Davis and Alex Varkatzas had performed some weird fusion ritual and lyrical themes (and artwork) that resurrect those drawings in the notebook by that goth chick who sat beside you in high school ten years ago, this album is best described as slightly less than an hour of juvenile catharsis.
That should not be misconstrued as to say that Come Clarity is flawless or in any way revolutionary or even memorable. The band has discovered the dreaded "wall of noise" production used recently to such unfortunately great commercial success by such acts as Slayer and Chimaira. Apparently, this was decided as much to bury the increasingly simplistic riffs and rhythms within the sonic equivalent of an ocean of molasses as it was for artistic value. The whole of the album is comprised of predictible fast-paced thrash ("Take This Life," "Reflect the Storm," and at least half a dozen other tracks), mid-tempo anthems to angst ("Leeches," the title track, and a number of others), and a spectacularly horrific attempt to recapture the hearts of early fans with "Dead End." Featuring guest female vocals by Lisa Miskovsky, "Dead End" is so cynically enterprising that it is a great mystery as to why In Flames isn't already running their own Fortune 500 company and bilking customers out of their money on an even larger scale. Album closer "Your Bedtime Story is Scaring Everyone" is every bit a throwaway joke as anything recorded by perennial comedy-thrashers GWAR.
Every track, though, is tied together by the fact that every instrument and even the vocals are mixed at volumes that differ only by small margins, making efforts to pick out and analyze a specific component only slightly more successful than trying to drill through a brick wall with your nose. It takes a good half-dozen listens to stumble through the impenetrable fog that permeates the sound before the sheer banality of the musicianship becomes apparent. In Flames has come a long way from the days of The Jester Race and Whoracle, but many would argue that they are headed in the wrong direction.
Ultimately, Come Clarity succeeds most in making an incredible racket. Full of much growling and gnashing of teeth but lacking any depth or substance, this album is best regarded as a blatant attempt to cash in on the conflict that exists between the two halves of In Flames fan base. The band has raised self-aggrandizement to an art form, something that music has not seen since Metallica's 1990s antics. It's not as if we missed it, either.