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In Flames: A Sense of Purpose

Few extreme metal bands create as much controversy amongst the fans these days than In Flames, one of the originators of the Gothenberg sound. While their early recordings are considered by many to be classics of the melodic death metal genre, the last few years has seen the band's output highly scrutinized by both critics and their audience as they have moved towards more commercial and straightforward music. Their latest release A Sense of Purpose probably won't revert them back to the days of Jester Race, Whoracle, Clayman, or Colony as far as the fans go, but it's easily as good as Come Clarity, their previous album, and perhaps stronger than Reroute to Remain or Sountrack to Your Escape. On first listen, many of the tunes here seem a tad generic (which most of their recent releases are guilty of initially), as if the band are either running out of ideas or perhaps tired of the genre, but give it a few spins and you'll slowly start to find out that there's some really decent metal here. Sure, the 'non-earth shattering' chugga-chugga guitar riffs of "The Mirror's Truth" sound rehashed, but beneath the mire it's actually a pretty catchy metal song. "Disconnected" and "Sleepless Again" are fine melodic speedy metal numbers, containing some cool harmony guitar lines (which this band are famous for) and the trademark rasp of vocalist Anders Friden.

The band mixes a gothic touch with Metallica-styled anthem attitude on "Alias", while they throw around more of those fabulous twin-harmony guitar parts on the raging "I'm the Highway". On "Delight and Angers", the band even throws in some proggy guitar parts (huge Iron Maiden influence here), but I would have liked the rhythm guitars of Jesper Stromblad & Bjorn Gelotte to have a bit more crunch, a problem that runs rampant throughout the CD. One of the few tunes where this is not the case is on the crushing "Move Through Me", with big fat riffs, pummeling drum work from Peter Iwers, bubbling keyboards, and snarling yet catchy growls from Friden. The only real stinker here is "The Chosen Pessimist", a slow & dreary ballad with Anders trying his best to do a Bono impression but fails miserably-guys, you are In Flames, not U2, so give it up. Melodic death rears its head on the aggressive "Sober and Irrelevant", complete with some flashy guitar solos, and the final trio of "Condemned", "Drenched In Fear ", and "March To the Shore" all pack one hell of a whallop, reminding plenty of the In Flames of old, heavy, speedy, with lots of harmony guitar passages and catchy melodies.

Reality is, you can say what you want about In Flames' output over the last 5-8 years, but even sub-par In Flames is better than what most bands out there can put together. A Sense of Purpose isn't the best In Flames album, but it's still damn good. Once you get past the somewhat thin production (if the guitars were beefed up more these tunes would sound HUGE) this is actually very solid all around. Give it a few listens and these songs will really grow on you, trust me.

Track Listing
1. The Mirror's Truth
2. Disconnected
3. Sleepless Again
4. Alias
5. I'm the Highway
6. Delight and Angers
7. Move Through Me
8. The Chosen Pessimist
9. Sober and Irrelevant
10. Condemned
11. Drenched In Fear
12. March To the Shore

Added: May 15th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: In Flames Website
Hits: 2287
Language: dutch

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