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Different, but still pretty good. - 85%

Voice_Of_Steel, January 13th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Century Media Records (Digipak, Reissue, US)

I think it’s safe to say that no one likes it when one of their favorite metal bands changes their sound in order to appeal to a wider, more mainstream audience. Metallica infamously did this on the “black album” causing many other thrash metal bands (Megadeth, Anthrax etc.) to follow suit and release material that was controversial to put it mildly. What In Flames did on Reroute To Remain and the albums to follow is essentially the 2000’s equivalent of this, with the main difference being that In Flames were following the trends of the time rather than setting new ones. Like with Metallica’s black album and the far more heavily criticized follow ups, Load and Reload, old fans of In Flames were completely sideswiped by the sudden stylistic changes that the band undertook here on Reroute To Remain and the album has been bashed because of it ever since. However, ever since the album's release in 2002, many fans of In Flames have actually warmed up to this album (and era of the band in general) now that all of the hype surrounding its initial release almost 19 years ago has died down. With that being said, I personally believe that Reroute To Remain is yet another one of In Flames’ underrated efforts.

One of the main benefits of being new to bands (or metal genres in general) is that any biases or preconceived notions of what bands “should” sound like are almost completely absent. This album came out when I was 2 years old, so when I got into this band around the age of 16 I was not caught off guard by the band's change in sound. It was already an established fact that In Flames was no longer a melodic death metal band by that point and, because of that, there was no room for me to get mad about this era existing. That was just how it was. Due to this, I listened to this album (and their other albums) on their own terms, without expecting Colony or The Jester Race even though those were the albums I started with. To be perfectly honest, I initially did not like Reroute To Remain, but after a few listens I warmed up to it and have been jamming ever since.

Contrary to what angry old fans may tell you, the music on Reroute To Remain is not “nu-metal” nor is it the kind of stuff you are going to hear when you turn on your local modern rock radio station. Reroute To Remain is a melodic death/groove metal album with alternative inspired choruses and keyboards. With that being said, the music on Reroute To Remain is probably the most aggressive this band has sounded since Lunar Strain outside of the catchy alternative parts. Examples of this include songs like “Egonomic” and “Transparent”, the latter of which actually has a blast beat section, which is not something that happens on the band’s earlier material. These songs and most of the album in general, contain fast riffs and drumming along with harsh, screamed vocals. Aside from this, the album also has a lot of the melodeath influence from the band’s previous albums present, taking form in the melodic guitar riffs and leads that can be heard in songs like “Trigger” and “Dark Signs”. In general the music on the album is pretty well executed and the alternative influenced choruses on songs like “Trigger” and “System” are extremely catchy and memorable. While there are a few tracks on the album that aren’t as memorable as the others, overall I would say that Reroute To Remain is a pretty consistent listen.

With all that being said, this is by no means a perfect album. One of the biggest problems here is that the actual production on the album is straight up weird. The drums, while not a huge issue, sound pretty loud and overproduced and there are a lot of unnecessary vocal effects on Anders Friden’s harsh vocals. The best way I can describe it is that his vocals sound distorted and it doesn’t sound good at all. I assume that this was done to make the album sound “edgier” or something to appeal to the scene kids, but it really just sounds bad. Aside from that, the rest of the production sounds fine for the most part.

As for the performances themselves, the band do a pretty good job here overall. Obviously, all the vocals on the album are handled by Anders Friden and, aside from the bad production, his vocals sound about the same as they did on Clayman. Most of the vocals here are raspy shrieks in the same vein, but there is a larger emphasis here on clean singing. Previous In Flames releases sort of toyed with this, but the band had not embraced it to this degree. These clean vocals are mostly heard on the choruses to the songs and then the two acoustic tracks on the album. While he's definitely not the most talented singer in the world, I personally have always felt that Friedens vocals fit the band well on most of their material. As for the other band members, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte play lots of killer riffs and guitar leads here that are bound to get stuck in the listeners head after a few listens. The guitar work on the album isn’t as well done as it was on the band’s previous albums (they did go commercial after all), but it's still great stuff. As for the drumming, Daniel Svensson plays on this album and also does a pretty good job. There is a lot of double bass work and fast, thrashy drumming throughout. Lastly, Peter Iwers plays bass on this album and, while you can hear it at some points, he plays nothing noteworthy.

Overall, Reroute To Remain is a pretty good album. While I can understand that metal purists and people who hate anything mainstream will dislike this, I feel that a lot of the hate surrounding the middle era of this band is unwarranted. There is a lot to like about albums like Reroute To Remain and if you leave this website and head on over to one where albums are rated by users, you’ll come to find that this era of the band isn’t really poorly rated in general. Reroute To Remain is by no means mandatory listening, but if you are an open minded fan of this band or prefer more accessible types of metal music, Reroute To Remain is worth checking out.

Highlights:
"Trigger"
"Egonomic"
"Transparent"
"Drifter"