In Flames

A Sense Of Purpose

Written by: AP on 21/04/2008 02:59:46

Any band\'s fan base is divided into two camps: the stubborn bunch who liked some early album and are quick to voice their disappointment at any deviation from its sound on newer records, and the open-minded ones who\'d rather be surprised and welcome progression and experimenting with arms wide open, embracing the band\'s courage to trot uncharted musical territory; to grow and evolve as its career moves forth. In Flames is no exception. In fact, if \"Reroute To Remain\" isolated the former, then \"Soundtrack To Your Escape\" almost certainly abolished it completely. I\'d be unsurprised if very few of the die hard \"Jester Race\" fans remained in In Flames\' tow today.

But like it or not, In Flames is one of the most successful contemporary metal bands around, thanks to a resolute, forward-looking gaze that has earned the band a loyal, contemporary following of next-generation metal heads. The band\'s influential days may well be over in the shadow of new trends, but there\'s no questioning that In Flames remains an important source of inspiration for a great many bands in today\'s ever-expanding something-core massif. Eighteen years and still aloft is more than most bands can claim, yet In Flames isn\'t about to die down any time soon. With such experience comes an impeccable ability to write solid tunes that cater to a plethora of different tastes. The band\'s ninth studio album, \"A Sense Of Purpose\" couldn\'t exemplify this better.

Yet at the same time, the band\'s desire to leap into the unknown has never been so greedy. When the emphasis is not on Jesper and Björn\'s crunching riffs and hypermelodic, maiden-esque lead duels, Anders Fridén takes full advantage of the mid-tempo to deliver vocals that those of us who are familiar with In Flames\' earlier material would never have thought possible. Anders\' newfound confidence in the strength of his singing ensures plenty of hair-raising moments that culminate in the eight-minute prog epic, \"The Chosen Pessimist\". Admittedly out of character for In Flames, this monumental track isn\'t going to fully disclose itself on the first listen, but a splash of patience will reveal one of the strongest, most interesting songs this band has written to date, not least because of breathtaking vocal work by bandmaster Fridén. The grandiose two-minute finale speaks for itself.

There are moments when the two guitarists unleash some of the best riffs they\'ve written to date - leads that are so emotionally charged and delivered with such passion that they bring tears to one\'s eyes - playing into Anders\' lyrics that deal with melancholy and solitude. Unfortunately the hypermelodic character of the songs coupled with a slowish tempo also serve to polarize the album\'s overall sound. Songs like \"Alias\" and \"The Chosen Pessimist\" stand out like obelisks but their effect is hindered by a few indistinguishable tracks that should by all logic have been replaced by the bonus tracks \"Eraser\", \"Tilt\" and \"Abnegation\", which are only to be found on the Japanese release or \"The Mirror\'s Truth\" EP.

The one thing dragging \"A Sense of Purpose\" down is the restraint that has been exercised on its more characteristic In Flames tracks. Occasionally one feels like the band has adopted a no risk policy, so understated and subtle seems the approach at times. It suffers from a lack of distinct hooks that subtract the very from good. Nonetheless, there\'s plenty here to get excited about thanks in part to Anders\' impressive vocal delivery and in part to some bold moves, making \"A Sense Of Purpose\" a valuable addition to an already impressive catalog.

Download: The Mirror\'s Truth, The Chosen Pessimist, Drenched In Fear

For the fans of: Dark Tranquillity, Iron Maiden, Soilwork

Listen: Myspace

Buy: iTunes

Release date 04.04.2008

Nuclear Blast

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