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Middle School Melodic Death Metal - 21%

Karrebarre98, November 25th, 2016

There are bands out there that change so much in their career they essentially abandon their original sound (Such as Opeth, Cynic, etc) but manage to craft a new sound for themselves that still shows their focus remains on the music. Opeth chose to go down a progressive rock path, embracing strange 70s retro modulation effects and delays that scream ELP, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. I personally don't care as much for their newer stuff, but will still admit they're not selling out by any means. Same situation with Cynic. They got tired of playing tech death metal, so they slowed down and softened the base of their music while still keeping their identity with the vocoders, scientific riffing and soloing.

That's not really the case with In Flames' new album.

If you're well acquainted with In Flames first 4 albums or so, you understand where they came from. They're one of the founding three bands of Swedish MDM. They helped pioneered the dual-guitar harmony structure of the genre itself, as well as some more intricate riffing than what Swedish bands had been doing up until then.

So, not knowing what their newer discography was supposed to sound like, I listened to "The Truth" seeing it was just released. All one can think about when being audiologically assaulted with that terrible "we are, we aaare!" is, "WTF was that!? Was that an elementary school choir?" Who does that? Put a little kid's choir into a metal song? It gets worse. They put it in THREE songs on this album. It makes you wonder if they put them in there to induce a listener's experience that mimics that of "hipster douchebag" pop music. You know, the kind that uses acoustic guitars, pianos, violins, and any other acoustic instrument they can get their hands on so it boosts their appeal to folk fans? Its called a "gang-shout." It makes people want to sing along. In Flames never needed to do that before, fans seem to sing along despite not knowing what the vocalist is growling about.

How about the vocals? Anders Friden used to have a pretty awesome death growl back in the day that rivalled nobody. Now it just sounds like he's purposely trying to shred his vocal cords by attempting to sound like Dani from Cradle Of Filth. Or how about those cleans? They wouldn't suck so much if he didn't breathe so excessively like he's on the pot figuratively "crapping" out the new In Flames album. There's this line in "The Truth" that goes, "Are you just gonna turn around and walk away?" Listen to it. What the heck was that? An emo chick? Why the moody whimper? When is that ever appropriate for an amazing band like In Flames?

The production is the only thing that seems half-way decent about this album. Except for the mixing on "Through My Eyes", that guitar solo is WAY TOO LOUD. Turn down the wah-pedal there, it sounds like its stuck on the "Kirk Hammett" setting. Not a fan of the "stuck wah" sound that Bjorn is using for his leads.

General consensus is, it sucks. In almost every way. What the heck happened guys? They've adopted just about every facet of mainstreaminess they could find.

Simplified and standardized song structure? Check.
Replace death growls with breathy, whiny cleans and Dani Filth screams? Check.
Replace good guitar tone with crappy "stuck wah" sound? Check.
Add in some children's choir to make it sound more friendly? Check.
Remove double bass and blast beats? Check.
Add in dubstep noises into random parts of the song? Check.

At least this album is bad enough to make for a hilarious Christmas present. Right?