Sunday, 14 December 2008

CD Review: A Sense of Pupose, by In Fames (2008)

There are several things that Sweden's In Flames do right on A Sense of Purpose, the band's ninth studio CD. For starters, the song Alias is an instant classic, finding and maintaining a driving, memorable mid-tempo groove that can proudly take its place among modern heavy metal masterpieces. The CD delivers a songlist with uniformly good quality and no blatant fillers. Disconnected and I'm the Highway are the other clearly strong tracks.

At the same time, apart from Alias, there is a definite overall sameness to the band's sound, an apparent inability to branch out too far from a dense root. And by insisting on 12 tracks when 8 or 9 would have been sufficient, A Sense of Purpose, especially in its second half, drops a bit into a droning monotone with songs drifting into each other. The band will do well to experiment more often with slightly slower tempos and more defined melodies to better differentiate one song from another. There is a notable attempt here to deliver a thoughtfully slow song in The Chosen Pessimist, but it just glances off-target due to a lack of enough inspiration to carry it through more than 8 minutes.

Anders Friden's clear vocals are welcome but lacking sufficient intonations, and mixed a bit too out in front of the band, allowing the vocals to over-dominate the songs and take away from the often lyrical guitar work going on behind him. The guitars, bass and drums work well together to establish each song, without any one instrument dominating. And certainly In Flames are not in the business of showboating shredding guitar solos, preferring instead to step forward as a unit.

In Flames are not in the same league as Kalmah or Children of Bodom in delivering the defining European heavy metal sound of the times, but they are a more than capable supporting act.


Bjorn Gelotte - Guitars
Daniel Svensson - Drums
Peter Iwers - Bass Guitar
Jesper Stromblad - Guitars
Anders Friden - Vocals

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. The Mirror's Truth - 7
2. Disconnected - 8
3. Sleepless Again - 7
4. Alias - 10
5. I'm the Highway - 8
6. Delight and Angers - 8
7. Move Through Me - 7
8. The Chosen Pessimist - 7
9. Sober and Irrelevant - 7
10. Condemned - 7
11. Drenched In Fear - 7
12. March to the Shore - 7

Average: 7.50

Produced by In Flames, Roberto Laghi, and Daniel Bergstrand.
Mixed by Toby Wright. Mastered by Stephen Marcussen.

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