Never has a band fallen as far as In Flames from what they once were. Hailed as one of the pioneers of melodic death metal and the “Gothenburg” sound, In Flames has always held a special place for me. They shaped my destiny years ago when I had first delved into the genre. Here I stand, 10 years later, and find myself grimacing at the thought of a new album. Siren Charms is the eleventh full length album by this legendary band, and the downward spiral they have been travelling with the last few albums has officially hit rock bottom. The fan base of In Flames is by far one of the most polarized in metal. On one side, you have those that typically think everything from the Reroute to Remain era and onward has slowly deteriorated in quality with each release. The other side of the fan base follows the band blindly from album to album, regarding everything as wonderful, and that the band needed to change their sound, rather than repeat the same album over and over. I consider myself with the former, as the band had strayed much too far from what made them appealing in the first place. I do understand the one side saying the band cannot be releasing the same album over and over, but this is just too much. When I hear this argument, I can only think of how idiotic it sounds. For a band to evolve, they need to sound better and evolve their style, not dumb it down. A band that comes to mind when thinking of evolution and growing, but not getting terrible in the process is Dark Tranquillity. If they can do it, In Flames surely should be able to. Too bad I am wrong. Enough of a history lesson and onto some actual thoughts on the album itself.
In Flames used to lyrically be about space and astronomy, which was a really cool and interesting lyrical topic that made the music feel unique. Somewhere along the way, the band started getting emotional and the lyrical content shifted to inner struggles and personal feelings. Not saying those lyrical styles are terrible, but the music they started writing and albums they started putting out from that point had a dramatic drop in quality . I believe this is when the band really began getting “ruined”. Rather than bash this album completely, let me just give a few examples of what I find distasteful. Everything’s Gone is the second track, and begins with an extremely boring, monotonous drum beat and guitar. Ander’s vocals come in with his spoken word style, and are extremely bland. There is nothing catchy or exciting about this track at all. It just goes on and on into a boring spiral of monotony. Through Oblivion is another track, one of the singles the band released to get some hype up for the album. This track is a slower song with Ander’s bad vocals, but instrumentally it is quite good. Vocally, this song is bad, and what Ander’s is doing on it, as well as most of the rest of the album, really ruins the overall sound. His voice does not help the music in any way. He used to have a really good, refined style that worked well but now it resembles nails on a chalkboard. Filtered Truth is the final track, and is a very heavy pop-metal song, with no depth or technicality to it. From a band that always had well thought out and interesting riffs, this is flat out boring, uninspired, and pales in comparison to what has once graced my ears.
Not everything here is negative, even though I truly hate this album. I thought the few vintage In Flames-ish moments were cool. Sprinkled throughout the album are cool little riffs that hark back to the early days, such as the intro on In Plain View and With Eyes Wide Open, which brought to mind the instrumental tracks of the albums prior to 2000. Rusted Nail has some awesome solos throughout the entire song, but is driven by Ander’s lacking vocals. It is too bad that there are not enough of these moments to help the release out, and instead of being cool little additions, it actually just drives a knife right into you while remembering the good times previous albums brought to mind.
Overall, this review is not going to change any opinions on this release. You will either love it or hate it. Me? I hate it. It is a poorly mixed album, uninteresting and uninspired, monotonous, and lacks depth. In a recent interview, Anders was speaking about 3 fans at a show wanting to hear the song Episode 666 in more recent times, to which he said, “…there are only three dudes in the left corner like, “We love it!” And the rest of the people are like, “What is this?”. Wake up man. Those 3 guys you are speaking of are the smartest guys in the whole damn audience if that is what you think. There are many people out there saying the same thing. With this, I must accept that one of my all time favorite band’s has moved onto playing dumbed-down music for the ignorant masses of this generation. RIP In Flames.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Melodic Groove Metal
Label: Epic Records
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Release: September 5th, 2014