IN FLAMES has been my favorite band since I first heard them in high school. From their debut album, Lunar Strain, to this new record, Siren Charms (out September 9 via Sony Music Entertainment), they have changed their sound in different ways with each of their 11 full-length releases. The fan base seemingly falls into two categories: those wishing for an album rehashing the sounds of old and those that have appreciated their musical evolution. I myself am part of the latter. One of the things I appreciate most about this band is that I know each new album will not be the same as the last, and Siren Charms is certainly no exception to that rule.
“In Plain View” begins with some electronic elements before exploding with energy and that signature IN FLAMES groove and harmonized guitars. Anders Fridén’s vocal attack varies between clean singing and screaming, giving the song a wide range of feeling. “Everything‘s Gone” is without a doubt the heaviest offering and it feels reminiscent of something you’d hear on Soundtrack To Your Escape or Clayman, but mixed together with an added new twist. It sounds sinister and dark, providing that powerful melancholy that IN FLAMES does so well. “Paralyzed” features sections of electronic instrumentation paired with distorted guitars, creating a varied musical landscape. The chorus is full of life and the guitar solo at 2:43 is excellent. “Through Oblivion” feels like a new sound for the band. The composition is slow to mid tempo and very clean sounding. It is vocally driven with spikes of louder distorted guitars, giving it an uplifting feeling at times. The emotion in the song is raw.
“With Eyes Wide Open” features some of Björn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin’s best guitar work. There are harmonized portions, cleans, distorted parts; the song has it all. This is also one of Anders’ strongest vocal performances in regards to range, technique, and emotion. The title track follows, and the intro guitar tone really grabs me. “Siren Charms” is filled with ups and downs of expression. Sandwiched between two hard hitting groove sections, it has another killer guitar solo at the 2:03 mark that soars over top of an equally great rhythm. “When the World Explodes” is without question the most epic composition on Siren Charms. Daniel Svensson’s drumming stands out as the rhythmic patterns sound complex and change quite a bit. It boasts a guest vocalist in Emilia Feldt that helps the song take on a larger than life sound. While it starts off very heavy with screaming vocals, Anders lower range singing mixed with Emilia’s voice sounds incredible. And no epic IN FLAMES song is complete without a badass harmonized guitar solo, so you know you’re getting one! Simply put, “When the World Explodes” is stellar.
The first time I heard “Rusted Nail,” the opening gave me chills. I can’t really explain why, it’s just perfect to me. It’s clean and melodic, and then punches you in the mouth as the whole band joins in heavily. The chorus is infectious and the lyrical content is superb; definitely one of the most memorable songs on the record. Peter Iwers’ bass sounds massive during the start of “Dead Eyes” which makes the harmony have a greater impact, as well as the entire song as it is very bass driven at times. It has a slower tempo, but a positive feel and lyrical outlook. “Monsters in the Ballroom” features metaphoric lyrics, catchy content with a metal edge, and excellent arrangement. The heavy and abrupt ending is a nice touch to the mainly uplifting track. “Filtered Truth” closes out the record with a mix of influences. It begins as a rock song, before switching gears to a more metal sound with screaming vocals and a very noteworthy guitar solo section (maybe the best on the album).
Open-minded IN FLAMES fans will enjoy this record. Sure, the genius of the album may be overlooked by those with unrealistic expectations, but it will prevail in time. I see Siren Charms as having great staying power, especially since I’ve listened to it the most of any new release this year since getting it. Check it out for yourself; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The LP is diverse and headed in a new direction, while maintaining the identity of the band. It is a surefire album of the year contender for me. IN FLAMES, thank you for never disappointing.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL