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In Flames is a phenomenon that I don't really understand. They are very popular and really get many reviews but most metal fans seem to profoundly dislike them since the late nineties or so. I really ask myself why frustrated and closed minded fans of the band's early days that don't stop bashing the so-called modern (a word that doesn't even mean a thing) approaches of the band, criticize the band got overall too commercial (what's the problem with being commercial) and flame the band's singer Anders Friden (if you don't like him you should simply try out one of many other melodic death metal bands). I have always wondered why people still spend time on this band and give so many wrong and negative impressions. If you like modern In Flames, you can't dislike this record. Anybody else shouldn't even try and look for something else. It's because of many negative opinions that I discovered the band only a few years back but I got positively surprised and discovered a very unique, diversified and experimental band that hasn't released any boring or closed minded material. "Soundtrack To Your Escape" is no exception to this and has many strong points. It's far from being among the band's best records but it's also far from being the worst effort as many would suggest. The record is a pretty good average album in a strong discography and it has a really addicting flow. You won't have any negative surprises on here as this album is one hundred percent in Flames and nothing else. I would understand if a fan would flame the somewhat transitional and sometimes pointless "Come Clarity", an early record like "Lunar Strain" that had a different singer or the last and more catchy and commercial "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" but there is really no reason to flame this album here. I really don't get the point and suggest the open minded metal fan to not believe the hype and try this album out if he or she wants to discover a solid In Flames record.
This record contains many energizing and catchy tracks that are potential hit singles. That doesn't mean that they are boring, they have in fact many subtle changes in style but the band has the talent to write really gripping choruses and catchy melodies and mix that with past and present influences. A good example is the single "The Quiet Place" that has some electronic and industrial influences but still the typically emotional and catchy vocals that made this band famous. The band made a good choice to put this out as a single. Another great song of this kind is the addicting "My Sweet Shadows". The catchy and harmonious "Superhero Of The Computer Age" that is a great song with a stupid title or the comparable "Bottled" which include some additional vocals and has an interesting melancholic gothic feeling could have also been some underground successes as singles and may have attracted a younger public which I don't mean negative at all. Those two songs contain everything In Flames stand for and add a unique contemporary gothic or industrial note to the sound. Purist fans could have found the choice of the faster and harder but still very emotional "Dead Alone" appealing or the typical melodic death killer "Dial 595-Escape" with energizing vocals, a fast rhythm and a melodic Iron Maiden worship guitar solo.
As you can read, there is a lot of diversity in the album and normally, there should at least be a few songs that might please to any fan of any age, background and attitude. The only negative aspect is maybe the fact that this record tries to be too wide spread and please to everyone. On the other side, a strange fact is that a few guitar riffs still seem to be used several times in the weaker middle part of the record and sound somewhat worn-out after a while.
Some may call this record a superficial commercial attempt but I it an interesting work of diversity where old and new In Flames collide and turn out to stick well together and be much more similar as one might think.
I would like to point out that there are also two very experimental tracks which I really adore on the album. The first one is "Evil In A Closet" which is a very atmospheric and relaxing half ballad. The second one is the underrated bonus track "Discover Me Like Emptiness" that you should check out. This track has an eerie atmosphere in the beginning and leads to many variations by showing all the different styles and inspirations one could discover in the entire record and that made In Flames what they are today. This song is a good choice to present this band to a friend who doesn't know much about the Swedish legends. If you can get your hands on the special edition you should really get it and spend some money for this great bonus track that should have made it on the album and could have even been a very good single choice.
In the end you should check this album out and don't trust all the negative rumours about it. There are many catchy tracks but also quite diversified and almost progressive ones. There are some calmer and atmospheric songs but also a few fast paced melodic death metal killers. There are some modern vibes but some traditional In Flames sounds around, too. I think that "Soundtrack To Your Escape" is nothing you must escape from and is a courageous and colourful potpourri of ideas. The only thing you need to appreciate this record is to have an open mind and some time to let the whole thing grow. In Flames have always developed and experimented while they were nevertheless faithful to their roots and trademarks since the earliest years. This album is no exception but a very good example for this. I like this addicting grower and I am sure there is much more potential in this as many want to see at first sight.