IN FLAMES STOPPED PLAYING MELODIC DEATH METAL A LONG TIME AGO!!!
I would have thought that the band’s last four albums had made this perfectly clear, but apparently some people still haven’t gotten the message. I understand why people are upset by this fact. These newer In Flames albums are never going to be as impressive, important, or as flat-out incredible as the Jester Race/Whoracle/Colony era albums. Still, the writing was on the wall as far back as Clayman. In Flames was taking their music in a new direction, and it’s your choice either to jump off (and believe me, after Soundtrack to Your Escape I considered doing just that) or come along for the ride. The band certainly isn’t forcing anyone to buy their albums.
If you can get past the fact that the old In Flames isn’t coming back, you may be surprised at just how good some of these newer albums are. A Sense of Purpose is still heavy, it’s still melodic, and it’s still undeniably a metal album. For me the ultimate test is how the album makes me feel when I have it blasting in the car, and from the very start this album had me banging my head and wishing I knew the lyrics so I could scream along. There are some wickedly catchy hooks and melodies on this album (Move through Me is a great example), and while I miss the old death metal vocals, Anders Friden’s voice still packs plenty of punch. Most of these songs are short, vicious bursts of aggression, but the symphonic elements of the 8-minute “A Chosen Pessimist” were an interesting (and impressive) surprise.
The bottom line is that A Sense of Purpose is a good metal album. If it resembles nu-metal/metalcore/whatever more than melodic death metal, then so be it. I’d rather have In Flames continue to make records they believe in than return to a style they outgrew just to please a specific group of fans. If they gain more fans and (somewhat) mainstream recognition along the way, well, I don’t think anyone can argue that they haven’t worked hard for it.