September 24, 2014 In Flames – Siren Charms (Album Review)
Three years has passed by since the release of the gold selling In Flames album Sounds Of A Playground Fading. Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, little introduction is needed for this highly accomplished import that in fact can be credited for taking the sub-genre of melodic death metal and making it socially acceptable for the masses like no other band before. So much so that the massive growing fan base over the years have become accustomed to receiving hit after hit albums like a chain of pearls. In fact, the band has been awarded three Grammi-Awards (equivalent to a Grammy Award) and even “Best International Band” award from the Metalhammer Golden Gods in 2008. Now comprised of Anders Fridén (vocals), Björn Gelotte (guitar), Peter Iwers (bass), Daniel Svensson (drums), and Niclas Engelin (guitar), In Flames finds themselves with a new record label in 2014, changing over from Century Media to Sony Records. Coming with a swarm of anticipation in 2014, the band released their eleventh overall studio album titled Siren Charms. Marking their second album since the departure of founding guitarist Jesper Strömblad the band is ready to show they are as strong as ever. They have teamed up with long-time producers Daniel Bergstrand and Roberto Laghi to bring fans this new record.
Oddly enough the bigger a band gets it appears the more they have to explain themselves and their commercial success to fans. The fact of the matter is In Flames is still In Flames, just progressing like any group of musicians do to challenge themselves with each passing release. While their previous albums were recorded in their hometown of Gothenburg, In Flames chose the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin/Germany for Siren Charms; where artists like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and U2 recorded rock history. One of the main changes for the band is perhaps Fridén’s vocals which sound more delicate than ever, even if this has been foreshadowed on the previous albums. The growls are merely an accent rather than the backbone and the guitar sound has altered from high-gain riffing to a more crunchy tone, while Gelotte and new permanent member Engelin keep the distinctive sound trademark of the band. The rhythm section of Svensson and Iwers is more conducive more to the single song philosophy as opposed to just showing up technical nonsense. Again, the electronic and synth elements, programmed by Örjan Örnkloo, are discreet but also crisper to the ears.
Opening with the song “In Plain View”, In Flames starts off very electronic, followed by double lead guitar melodies. Following the next track “In Everything Is Gone” the central theme could be overlooked after just one listen. Somehow the song is a mixture between Slayer and older Marilyn Manson tracks and approaches new territory for In Flames. On “Paralyzed” a more calm tone blends with genius guitar licks midway through. This slower tempo continues with “Through Oblivion” and brings along first big chorus of the album, which is reminiscent of the Sounds Of A Playground Fading track “Liberation“. This song will surely work well in a live setting along with the just wonderful ballad-like “With Eyes Wide Open“. One of the biggest surprises comes with the track “When The World Explodes“ featuring the talented soprano-style vocals of Emilia Feldt. While to some it may come across as too gothic-rock for In Flames, the track is quite colorful and pushes the envelope for the band. This is followed by songs like “Rusted Nail” and “Dead Eyes” which have bulky verses and catchy earworm-choruses fans will love.
In Flames certainly is a band that never stands still and crosses borders to widen their horizon in the Metal world. Siren Charms is not the awaited easy listening album but it is worth digging into to discover its diversity after a few runs. This new album marks a new chapter for In Flames band which we expect will continue to grow as they nail their special position in the rock scene. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.