February 6, 2023 In Flames – Foregone (Album Review)
Titans of Melodic Death Metal, kings of the legendary Gothenburg Metal scene, In Flames return with Foregone, their first new collection in four years, which is slated to arrive on Friday, February 10, 2023, thanks to Nuclear Blast.
Three decades is nothing to laugh at in a world of one-second wonders tailored to bring a fleeting insta-joy—But Sweden’s In Flames have never played that game. With 33 years and 13 albums beneath their collective belt, the band has stood witness to trends that have come and gone but remained determined in their own sonic trajectory. It’s a passion that, call it what you will, sits at the core of each of their releases, from 1996’s The Jester Race and 2006’s Come Clarity, to 2011’s Sounds of a Playground Fading and 2016’s Battles. It has seen the band nominated for multiple Grammis Awards in their native Sweden and presented them the opportunity to share stages with everyone from Slipknot to Judas Priest, Gojira to Megadeth.
At a time when other bands are struggling to find their muses and move forward, In Flames—Vocalist Anders Fridén, Lead Guitarist Björn Gelotte, Guitarist Chris Broderick (ex-Megadeth), Bassist Bryce Paul, and Drummer Tanner Wayne—find themselves re-energized and breaking down boundaries. Opting to again work with Grammy Award-winning producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Three Days Grace), the group’s fourteenth release includes contributions from Engineer Mike Plotnikoff (All That Remains, Warbringer) as well as their former bandmate Joe Rickard (10 Years, Starset), who mixed the record.
Where 2019’s I, The Mask felt a little too slick, at times, Foregone is a return to all things aggro. Yet, it’s a record with a purpose that reaches far beyond playing with rage for aggression’s sake. Pulling their frustration and bleak resignation from the endless tragedies of our modern times, Fridén, Gelotte, and their troops relay despair and a violent annoyance with humanity’s inability to learn from its mistakes, an utter failure to avoid self-ruination and decay.
This is likely why the apropos “State of Slow Decay” arises as the successor to the instrumental “The Beginning of All Things,” providing the album’s first (vocal) track. Racing at a full-throttle clip, In Flames manages to meld heavy and melodic together flawlessly, providing an enviably catchy chorus that even the most elite of gatekeepers is likely to embrace. It is everything that we know and love from this band condensed into one song, a perfect representation of a record that does the very same thing. Drawing from all facets of their 33-year career, Foregone packages the heart and soul of In Flames into 12 mesmerizing tracks.
It is a rabid beast that is fueled by the hatred and lies that perpetuate wars across the globe. And given the realities of 2022/2023, it’s not too difficult to understand the frustration and anger that emanate from every single note of tracks such as the brutal “Foregone Pt. 1,” frenetic “The Great Deceiver,” or the dirgy “In the Dark,” a reminder that playing at the sport of warfare is always a lose-lose situation. Meanwhile, the blistering “Meet Your Maker,” only the collection’s third offering, is quick to herald the end of our reign, long before “End The Transmission” signs off on our chapter of history.
These claws slashing at our jugulars are what we expect from In Flames. Superb as they may be, it is the unexpected that makes Foregone such a delight. The fresh compositional twists that segue the fury of “Foregone Pt. 1” into its sister track, “Foregone Pt. 2,” provide a melancholic guitar lament that gently weeps alongside Fridén’s soaring vocals. Then there’s “Pure Light of Mind,” an atypical power ballad—think “In This Life” taken to the next level—whose opening notes find the band taking the arena stage, their frontman reaching for some of the highest registers of his voice, providing a light in the storm.
These organic departures are, of course, supported by the band’s mesmerizing musicianship throughout. From “A Dialogue in B Flat Minor” to the bass-led “Cynosure,” Foregone culls together all of the very best elements of In Flames, drawing from the heaviest of riffs to the darkest of emotions without failing to provide a window into the light. The result is an album that represents a band at the top of their game, unafraid to dance outside the sonic lines as they confront the cruel realities of our modern times. It is an honest exsanguination meant to inspire thought and action, not more hatred and posturing. For this, Cryptic Rock gives In Flames’ latest 5 out of 5 stars.