After 22 years in the music scene, and 2 years after the last album release, IN FLAMES released their 12th album, called “Battles”. The once pioneers of melodic death metal are back with something completely different from what they are known for. A like-it-or-not album, probably not destined for all their fans out there, as it features a rather alternative sound.
Just like OPETH did this year and BRING ME THE HORIZON did in 2015, IN FLAMES decided to experiment and evolve their sound to something rather contrasting, compared with their old albums. However, unlike OPETH, IN FLAMES decided to move away from their melodic-death past to a more mainstream sound. Experimenting and evolving is not always bad, as many bands proved over the years, but IN FLAMES moved towards a radio-friendly direction making most of their fans reminisce the band’s past. However, the whole album has a good amount of melodies and some pretty notable moments.
The use of synth keyboards is enriching the verses providing another depth and a more progressive layer, filling the absence of guitars and in the same time making the sound smoother. A surplus of electronic elements was used with some songs like “The Truth” or “Like Sand” being pretty vacant and dry without them. A positive and rather pleasant surprise is the use of female and kid choirs in songs like , but realizing that most of the songs include those choirs makes the album predictable and a little bit of repetitive. All in all, the choruses are pretty catchy forcing you to sing along whether you like the song or not. Most songs emit a feeling of energy and power, making the most songs really uplifting.
“IN FLAMES took a really brave step towards a dangerous direction.”
Concerning the guitars, they were pretty neglected in the name of experimenting. Most verses include some simple guitars relying solely on the bass and the electronic sounds. However, a good set of opening riffs is presented in this album and there are some significant solos like the one in the “Greatest Greed”. Generally the guitars were pretty melodic, fitting just right with the whole album theme, but not that significant or memorable.
Throughout the album, most of the songs follow the same pattern, with a melodic guitar opening riff or something more electronic oriented, followed but the verses which contain mostly growls with some exceptions like “In My Room”. Then the sing-along choruses kick in with clean vocals and choirs. Before the last chorus a solo is presented and that’s all. Lyrically it is mostly a love oriented album making it less special but easier to empathize. Some could say that follows a typical metalcore structure, with the music being far away from that genre.
As shown above, IN FLAMES took a really brave step towards a dangerous direction. The whole album wasn’t bad, but the name IN FLAMES makes you expect something more. There were some pretty good songs but a feeling of repetition , especially after the second half, could not be ignored. Most of the fans are not going to hate the album, but definitely there will be certain amount of disappointment. I really hope that IN FLAMES will make another turn in the music career and remind us who they really are and what they can really do, even if that means following a more progressive path.