in-flames-battles-01I never thought I’d say these words: “I WAS an In Flames fan.” Those of you that have followed In Flames from the very beginning, know that the Swedes have a divisive melodic death discography that extends nearly as long as my arm. From the 90s (high points included The Jester Race, Whoracle and Colony) to the 00s (highlights being Come Clarity and A Sense of Purpose) it’s difficult to believe that today’s In Flames is even the same band. At the risk of my “metal cred” I’m going to admit that Come Clarity and A Sense of Purpose are among two of my favorite albums and the combined efforts of Anders Fridén (vocals), Björn Gelotte (guitars and vocals) and Jesper Strömblad (guitars) on tracks like “Disconnected” and “Alias” are what made me a fan. Along came Sounds of a Playground Fading and with that, the departure of Jesper Strömblad (guitars). Lacking some of the charisma of the earlier releases the album took its sweet time in winning me over. Siren Charms hit the shelves in 2014 and with it the band added Niclas Engelin (guitars) – this release never made it onto my playlist. Now with the departure of Daniel Svensson (drummer) and the addition of Joe Rickard in his place, I’m hoping for a re-energized In Flames and a return to the heft and melodicism of Come Clarity.

“Drained” gets the show on the road. It’s a solidly catchy opener that sticks like meat to bone, coming over as a continuation of Sounds of a Playground Fading. Fridén belts out his screamy lines with the right level of enthusiasm to hook, and instrumentally the song’s tight, with a simple guitar solo popping in briefly with some Omnium Gartherum melody towards the back end. “The End” follows, A Sense of Purpose vibe shining through, and once again it’s a catchy number, typical of what I’d expect from today’s In Flames. Another big (but mechanical) guitar solo makes its appearance and it’s all over relatively quickly in a screaming finish. And there you have it, the formula for the large majority of Battles.

The mid-section of Battles consists of very little that will hold your interest. The adolescent choir used throughout “The End,” “Like Sand” and “The Truth” does absolutely nothing to endear. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, combined with the overly ’emo’ nature of the vocals/lyrics, this choir just adds a stink of cheese that In Flames doesn’t need. Beyond that, “Like Sand” comes across as a weird parody of an Avatar freak show and The Used‘s screamo. “In My Room” and “Before I Fall” exacerbate the chore that is Battles, both tracks are completely devoid of personality, all on one level having no exciting peaks or high points to speak of outside of Fridén’s vocals, which at times mimic those of Shaun Morgan (Seether). “Here Until Forever” is one of the few white flags on this battleground. Though the track will have you balking at its likeness to the output of My Chemical Romance and The Used, the jazzy drum-work sets it well apart from earlier tracks. At last, the end is near. “Wallflower” outright apes Tool and though the track takes a fair amount of time to get off the ground, once it does, you’re welcomed by a synthy “Colony” influence that goes on to permeate both this track and closer “Save Me.”

in-flames-battles-02

Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The Used and Seether) had a hand in the production of Battles, and it’s his production style that adds to the overall feeling that the project was a rushed fail. After being blasted by the first half of the album, “Through My Eyes” experiences a marked decrease in sound intensity. Be warned though, this is corrected by the time you get to “Battles” so making on-the-fly volume adjustment is a must. The inconsistent and sometimes brick-walled production on Battles, exacerbates an unsatisfying listening experience. Across the entirety of Battles, five tracks come across as seriously brick-walled (DR4) the remaining eight tracks range between DR5 and DR6… not great, but good enough I guess. After a week with In Flames, earache was my reward.

Between predictable songwriting, recycled technique, a notable lack of haunting melodies, lyrics aimed at radio play for angsty teens and just outright poor production, Battles is not the album I hung on for. I’m going to consider this a battle lost.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 277 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: inflames.com | facebook.com/inflames
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2016

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  • mtlman1990

    Not one original member. As far as I’m concerned, In Flames died after Colony.

    • Reese Burns

      I’d recommend giving Come Clarity a shot, but other than that, all their modern stuff isn’t worth your time.

      • mtlman1990

        I have. Its just not good.

        • Reese Burns

          Haha, agree to disagree ;)

    • Janne

      Really??? I guess the most of your most loved band´s members are dead by now. New time, new band members, what´s wrong with that?

  • themetalyears

    Sounds of a Playground Fading was not great…however I still love Where the Dead Ships Dwell. “Feel I was running an endless mile…” is just a great line.

    • They’ve had some great lines over the he years and that’s one of the reasons I stuck with them. That’s lost on this album… not even a good line or two to save them.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      For me, “Reroute to Remain” was the last one that spent heavy time in my CD player. Not that “Come Clarity” or “A Sense of Purpose” were bad per se, they have just seemed to be consistently declining for the pasr decade.

    • Ugo Poifol

      It’s actually my favorite with Subterranean. There is a sense of melody that i find unmatched in this album. Sure, it’s very “emo” at times, but it doesn’t bother me. I find it very genuine for once. Tracks like Dead Ships Dwell as you said, A New Dawn and Ropes are much, much better than anything from the last two albums, even if the sound is similiar.

      • basshole

        You put Subterranean and Playground on the same level… whoa.

        • Ugo Poifol

          Why not ? I get the same enjoyment from both.

    • [not a Dr]

      Skid Row would agree.

  • Hammersmith

    Reroute was the beginning of the end for me. Clayman was OK, but that album (reroute) was such a disappointment, and Soundtrack was worse. Come Clarity had a couple decent songs but In Flames has been pretty much dead to me since. Jester Race -> Colony though.. so good.

    • JL

      Clayman is pretty solid save for the only for the weak, a clear appeal to the mainstream. Lunar Strain/Subterranean, TJR, Whoracle and Colony are classics though. amazing music on those records.

      • The Nerd.

        Only for the Weak was my introduction to In flames and I still crank it from time to time.

  • MrAidscancer

    IMO in few parts this album is the biggest look-backs to Reroute to Remain ever. It’s mix of RtR feeling and slowly rolling down into middlelife crisis pit. Anyway I have listined Battles few times and it’s kinda OK to me while I just bounced of their prevous one.

  • ouch.. realistic review… Sad to see such a band sinking…

    • It was a tough write…

      • I can guess, this is a good review tho ;)

    • Solaire

      I recognise that avatar/art style….did you post on Everdying back in the day by any chance?

      • of course I did, that was my website before it got swallow by The Jesterheads ! What was you name on Everdying ?

        • Solaire

          Oh dayum, so you’re ArchY?! I was bed_of_razors, posted a lot on the English side of the forum. Was very sad when it closed down, many random fun topics happened, like writing In Flames themed stories based only on what the previous person wrote. Wish I still had them saved, some of them were fucking hilarious!

          • Yes I am :) I remember now your post :) that was a very cool period, this website was as successful as funny :) There was some really strong personality but that was hell of a ride :)

  • Reese Burns

    Come Clarity is a proper ripper, I agree with you 100% on that. But this album doesn’t even deserve a 2.0. I’d give it a 1.0, and even that’s being generous. The only song on here that I even vaguely enjoyed (The End) is ruined by the dreadful choir bits, and everything else is basically modern In Flames: stale, lifeless and lacking any sort of urgency and direction.

  • galtenberg

    At some point, every band that can write melody will fool itself into thinking it can be U2.

    (Why anyone would ape such a horrible group has always puzzled me.)

    This album is yet another painful chapter in a totally botched transition.

    • The Nerd.

      They look at U2 and see $$$$$$$$$$$$$. That’s why.

    • AndySynn

      I feel like this is more them looking at Bring Me The Horizon (and their ilk) and thinking “we need to get in on that to keep our careers going”.

      Which… you know, it is what it is.It’s almost ingenious how purposefully calculated it is to appeal to angsty teens/pre-teens and people who say stuff like “Oh, I like a bit of everything” (trans: I don’t have any strongly defined musical taste).

      Take a look at the videos for example. Not only are the songs a hollow pastiche of everything that’s been even vaguely popular over the last 10-15 years (bouncy nu-metal meets emo meets dancey synths meets toothless Metalcore/Melodeath riffs), but the videos look like they were made by a committee assigned to list everything that “the kids” like, so the whole conceit is part Call of Duty, part Hunger Games, part Hardcore Henry, and all incredibly calculated.

      Which, again, is actually a pretty solid strategy in marketing terms. And I don’t doubt that IF probably enjoy what they’re doing (and enjoy their success). But that doesn’t mean it’s actually GOOD.

      • Matthew

        “people who say stuff like “Oh, I like a bit of everything””

        Ugh, you’ve just reminded me how much I hate those sorts of people. They’re often the same people who listen to completely inoffensive, generic ‘rock’ bands and who have a constant inferiority complex about the minority of ‘genuine’ rock music being under constant attack from ‘pop’ music or whatever. Pitchfork’s review of Royal Blood has some excellent commentary on that crap.

        • Yan

          I’ve been playing in all kinds of extreme metal bands, been hearing the whole bandwidth the genre has to offer. From the coldest underground black metal – self released en masse – all the way to Nickelback and everything in between. I’ve probably tried out at least 5 000 albums of the metal/rock category in the last only 3 years – and I’ve started into the genre in the early times of Manowar, Grave Digger and the likes. Does this keep me from listening to classical music, going to orchestras, loving good jazz or enjoying a nice big band? Totally not. If I like Dubstep, then I do. If I like a Rihanna Song, so what? Even a cheesy K Pop song may fit the moment. There is also great Rap and RnB, if you take some time to search. You use music as a way to paint a public picture of your hard, trve manliness – you, sir, are pathetic. Just keep listening to your slayer peasant, red neck metal and drink a beer to drown your complexes. – Am I saying I prefer the the new In Flames (Battles)? No. Not really. It’s fine, but definitely not a keeper. This is the kind of Album, that is fine to play in the car, when your driving with your girlfriend for a week or so. But you can as well just play something else. I don’t think many people will return to listen to the songs again and again. There is one or two songs, which have some better feeling but its still somewhat… boring? Not bad, just boring. Just like the way your brain works.

      • sir_c

        This is the muzak (aka elevator music) of metal. It’s so boring it won’t offend anyone and it’s so generic everybody recognizes something.

        It’s once again a record lost on the Great plains of Meh.

      • MattyG

        My theory is that members of the band outside of Jesper Strömblad are simply incapable of writing attractively original music. Jesper leaves; sound becomes generic and uninteresting.

  • Lord Lucan

    I actually like the modern In Flames sound (feel free to judge me; many do) however Siren Charms was an absolute toilet of a record and this doesn’t sound much better. A real shame. I know many people disagree but I thoroughly enjoyed Sounds of a Playground Fading, albeit for different reasons than why I liked their earlier material.

    • Ugo Poifol

      Exact same. Sounds is excellent, and I was surprised I likedit that much. Siren Charms sounded similar but I was quickly disappointed.

    • Rene Alva

      I enjoyed Sounds of a Playground Fading, I’ve been an In Flames fan since 1999, but sadly… In Flames I trusted.

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    I never fully understood the fierce hatred In Flames received after their change towards a more radiofriendly, mature sound. I can totally get the disappointment of ‘your’ band not making the music you liked so much anymore, but sometimes people seem to respond to In Flames’ music as if they’ve murdered your family or something.

    I generally liked your review, though, Madam, and I think you defended your position well, but I just cannot get into the overall hate these guys have received over the years.

    As for Battles, I’ve been enjoying it a good amount for what it is to me: an enjoyable, catchy new In Flames release. For me it’s a 3/5; there are some excellent numbers on which you can hear that their newest experimentation works well, others are indeed too formulaic and fail too impress too much. The perceived angstiness of this release does not bother me at all – I can enjoy a release about personal struggles, getting older and insecurity as much (more?) than one about death, the end of the world and satan.

    • galtenberg

      “fierce hatred In Flames received after their change towards a more radiofriendly, mature sound” -> pretty sure you mean “after they lost their ability to write songs that don’t make our skin crawl”

    • That was one of the reasons I fought so fiercely for this review. I’ve enjoyed their new direction to this point and I wanted Battles to be given a fair review… I’m disappointed Battles went this way.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        And I can read the nuance and thoughtfulness in your review, and appreciate your writing for that. I honestly believe you’ve given it every chance, and came to your well argumentated conclusion as presented.

        However, coming back to read the replies to my comment, 2 out of the in total 5 comments to my comment struck me immediately:
        – “Its (just) shit”
        – “after they lost their ability to write songs that don’t make our skin crawl”
        I do not presume to know the intention behind these comments, but this illustrates more or less what I think I was referring to.

        Look, I mean, it’s absolutely okay if you’re not into a band anymore, but the strong language I’m pointing to right now seems very unfriendly.

        • I get what you mean, I’m often struck by the intensity by which In Flames are judged for their changes. It’s similar in my mind to Linkin Park.

          • Arjan Zwamborn

            Thank you :)

            And to be fair: I’m not the biggest critic out there – I usually enjoy most that bands like In Flames put out there. But I agree Battles may be their weakest release to date. But I don’t think like this solely based on the fact that the music is catchier or less heavy.

            Yeah, I found A Thousand Suns a brilliant album by Linkin Park – arguably their best. Sure, it’s bloated with pretense, but I think a lot of the experimentation on that album worked really well.

        • IBlackened

          “…but the strong language I’m pointing to right now seems very unfriendly.”

          Well, that’s what happens when you create genre defining, timeless classic albums but then decides to release generic pop music with the sole purpose of making some cash. It seems natural to me that the passionate fans would get upset or frustrated.

          • Arjan Zwamborn

            I don’t mean to be a total dick, but I’m gonna zoom into a few things you say to illustrate how I feel differently. Please don’t feel like I’m provoking :)

            “release generic pop music” – I really don’t get this claim. Battles to me a combination between melodic death metal, alternative rock/ nü-metal with electronic (synths/ effects) and pop (the choir, sing-a-long choruses) influences. It’s still miles away from pure pop music. Besides, pop music in itself is not inherently evil, methinks.

            “with the sole purpose of making some cash.” – or, with the sole purpose of making music they enjoy themselves? Is it really unfathomable that after years and years of making ‘trve’ metal, Anders and co prefer to make more accessible and catchier music?

            “It seems natural to me that the passionate fans would get upset or frustrated.” – sure, and that is okay. But I like to have a healthy discussion about tastes and the such, and not to descend into short-sighted reasoning such as “it’s just shit” and “this is for 15 y/o angsty teen boys”.

            “I can’t really understand how music that’s radio-friendly and aimed at young people can be called mature” – I’m going to pull a Socrates here: what you’re saying is that music that is radiofriendly cannot be mature and is tailored solely to young audiences, and/or that radiofriendly music tailored to young audiences cannot be mature? I don’t think the one disqualifies the other.

            Look, I feel like you (want to) assume that In Flames is purposely pissing off their old fanbase and aim mostly to grab easy cash, and that more radiofriendly metal is inherently bad. I just don’t agree with that – or at least I feel like this is jumping to conclusions way too quick.

        • Ugo Poifol

          Look, just because we say something dismissive doesn’t mean it’s the end of what we think, and we might have listened to the album thoroughly and given it its chances. I can’t convince you I did, but you can’t just pretend that because you read 5 paragraphs and take the high moral stand you’re the only one who has a rational opinion.

          Our dislike of the album doesn’t come from irrational “hate”. What happens there is that once again, people come on their high horse saying something along the line of “I can’t believe these simpletons just hate on the modern sound. I, however, am a smart man who understands the intricacies of the modern sound !”. I’m exaggerating (ever so slightly), but you get my point.

          The fact is, aside from SoaPF and Come Clarity (to generalize a very fragile consensus, every album since Reroute (10 years !) has been quite disappointing, in a very frustrating way. People actually tried very hard to like these albums before (and some do), and great discussions arose. Nowadays though, In Flames seems decided not to correct the flaws that plague their modern sound, and it’s not about going back to the old sound. They just dig deeper with these flaws.

          So people really, really don’t see the point of repeating the same things for each album. Instead, they just think “not again…” and move on. But then, you come with your sweeping generalizations that all those who don’t like the new albums have too simple a way of thinking. And that’s why you get these “it’s not mature, it’s shit”, it’s because it has been discussed extensively before and no one wants to have this discussion again.

          In Flames’ modern sound is okay to great, their songwriting is average at best on this album (jk it’s dogshit) and the flaws are gaping. You cannot just come and insult disappointed fans’ intelligence and treat them like idiots because you liked it. It’s fine if you do but the consensus on this (and the one before) being a bad album is far from unjustified.

    • mtlman1990

      No, the sound isnt more “mature”. Its shit.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        “Mature” means: “now they have bills to pay, they have to worry about making money”.

    • Vice-President of Hell

      they had to change the band name when they began to play this radio-friendly music. and all hatred would have been easily escaped

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        And if it was a conscious decision, I respect In Flames even more for not doing this – because it is their band, and they should make whatever music they like.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Similar to why so many people were frustrated with Metallica when they started putting out albums like “Load.” More radio-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean mature.

    • JL

      it was because the change was so drastic. a clear premeditated disregard for their entire early fan base that made them famous in the first place.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        Drastic, the change was. That this showed disregard for their entire early fan base, I don’t think so. In any case I feel like every band is entitled to make the music they like, and as a fan you are entitled to like it or not. And I don’t think that a band owes anything to anyone – if Slayer decides to partner up with Miley Cyrus tomorrow then that is their God-given right to do so.

        I personally think people WANT to feel like In Flames have an intentional disregard towards their early fans, to justify their exorbitant reponses towards In Flames’ ‘new’ (it’s been 14 years…) style.

        Finally: I think their music made them famous in the first place.

        • The Metal Pigeon

          Your blanket statements about the band making the music they want to make is called into question with the recent revelation of Jesper Stromblad who cited the band’s change of direction as a major reason for his deciding to leave. I think if you dig down in the details, from interviews at the time of R2R to the coordinated image change that was entirely Anders Friden’s urging, it becomes apparent that the decision making and musical direction in the band shifted from Stromblad to Friden —- and that is the primary reason that underlies so many older In Flames fans’ disgruntled views towards the band now.

          • Arjan Zwamborn

            I won’t argue that the current direction In Flames is taking is quite different from their earlier direction. And I did not know that there has been a conflict of styles between Friden and Stromblad, that explains things. Thank you for sharing!

            Still, I would hesitate to call Friden the ‘sell-out’ in this matter (not putting words in your mouth, but I’ve read very frequently this accusation towards the band). I do not presume to know his intentions. For all I know he honestly likes to create catchier, more accessible music. That remains the essence of my point here: I understand that it can be upsetting if your favorite band decides to go into a direction you do not like, or for reasons you find questionable, but I personally dislike the unreasable polarization and namecalling this causes online. And I specify online, because I have never met anyone in real life who sports the intense hatred for the band as I’ve witness on the interwebs.

    • sir_c

      it has gotten so generic that even my mother would be able to find stuff to like on this record. There is nothing compelling or energizing to find here, all stuff has already been done by others long ago.

      But good you like it, have fun with it.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        So would my mother, but she happens to have a quite excellent taste in my opinion :)

        Thank you, I will!

    • Phil Daly

      I’m struggling to see what about this sound could be considered “mature”, based on the following definitions?

      Having reached full natural growth or development

      Having reached a desired or final condition

      Of, relating to, or characteristic of full development, either mental or physical

      There are many far younger bands who do this sound far better and far more honestly, so it’s certainly not a “maturity as age” argument. I could just about accept an argument for the second definition, assuming this is their own desired outcome, but nothing about this sound as compared to their old could be described as mental growth or development, surely?

      Not necessarily a dig at In Flames exclusively, as beyond the obvious, I can think of plenty of other bands who have gone the same route, Grand Magus being the one that annoys me the most.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        I’m happy to go into this, but I want to state that the ‘maturity’ of In Flames’ music is not the centre of my earlier point. I have a vision on this, but that vision is very opinion-based. The centre of my point is that I feel like (online) metalheads tend to bash on In Flames much harder then I think they deserve.

        But, very well:
        I feel like In Flames matured in the sense that they found a balance in their sound in the way they want it to be (the desired condition) and a routine in songwriting. To me, they sound like a band that has nothing to prove, and make the music they want to make.

        I wanted to say one more thing about one of the points you’ve made: “There are many far younger bands who do this sound far better and far more honestly”
        That’s, like, your opinion man :) I’d say: tell this to the people attending their main-venue sold-out concerts and festival headlining shows for the last 10 years. I’d argue they are at least one of the most successful metalbands that adopted a sense of catchy melody in their core sound – whether they are in fact ‘better’ or more ‘honest’, I wouldn’t dare to argue.

    • [not a Dr]

      Satan feeling insecure about the end of the world because he is getting older and knows exacly what happens during and after death would be an awesome theme for an album.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        Actually, it would :) Makes me think a little of Cradle of Filth’s 2003 Damnation and a Day, that viewed genesis from the devil’s perspective (if I remember the theme correctly).

  • Jason

    A Sense of Purpose is the last In Flames I bought, and I still can’t get into it. It’s a shame about Battles, though. That cover art is pretty cool.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Every time I see an In Flames review nowadays I just get sad…

  • flipper2gv

    Again, this gets the same score as Allegaeon last album, still salty about this one.

    • Diego Molero

      Different reviewers man.

  • basshole

    Anders and the ‘N Flamerz

  • Zach Ward

    Never been much a fan of In flames to begin with, so their departure from quality doesn’t do much to me.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    :( I’d seen some really positive reviews and also some pretty negative reviews for this one, which generally seems to be the norm when a big band like IF releases a new, heavily anticipated album. Really well done review here, though (covered everything nicely) Personally, my hopes weren’t too high, so this embedded track was the first I’d heard. Definitely sounds “meh.” Won’t be getting this album, sadly.

  • AndySynn

    A Sense of Purpose is a pretty half-arsed and under-developed album to be honest. One of their worst imo, and the album that ACTUALLY started their real decline… not into being poppy (nothing wrong with that if it’s done well) but into writing every song to pretty much the exact same formula, with the exact same “beats”, and always in a rush to get to the chorus.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I love In Flames enough to find something to enjoy on each album. That being said, the last two albums have been pretty bad. I actually think Playground is a really underrated album. Ropes and A New Dawn are two of my favorite modern In Flames songs.

  • MastersApprentice

    I agree with the sentiment of the reviewer, this just doesn’t even seem like the same band anymore. Gone are the majestic melodies of albums past (just listen to the Man Made God instrumental). They have now been replaced with over-produced cheesy cringe-inducing choruses, brickwalled mastering, and underwhelming songwriting.

    Such a shame, this band was once held in such high regard…

  • Excentric_13073

    Tell me those cleans aren’t auto-tuned…

    • I’ve read that Howard Benson is big on auto-tuning so it wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Oversimplifying Man

    Can’t even stand the embed song.

    • Ha and it’s one of the better ones :)

  • theburningdown

    We really shouldn’t have expected anything else but this Linkin Park-lite rubbish. This is not the band we once knew. They should have changed the name of the band when they fell for some marketing executive’s vision of teenage angst metal with crossover appeal. I’ll never get bored of Jester Race and Whoracle but their last 3 albums especially are dreadful and soulless – they were in decline even before that so this is no mere aberration. It’s all rather sad

  • Asral

    As a fan since around the time of Colony (still their absolute best album), I’ve pretty much enjoyed all their stuff up to and including Sound of a playground fading. The only big exception is Soundtrack to your escape, that just never stuck for me.

    A sense of purpose and Sounds of a playground fading aren’t as good as Come clarity or Reroute to remain, but they are still mostly enjoyable.

    I haven’t even listened to all of Siren charms yet, the few tracks I’ve heard from it have seemed rather uninspired. The few tracks I’ve heard from Battles seems largely the same as Siren charms, so I’m not really excited about them anymore.

    It’s a shame, since IF used to be one of my favourite bands and now they just feel a bit mediocre. At least Dark tranquillity is still putting out great records (Atoma is fantastic).

  • Phil Daly

    Never really got into In Flame in the first place, so this isn’t out of anger at faded glories, but blimey that embedded track is weak. Just so watered down and inoffensive.

    • Matthew

      I know everyone raves about them, but their early albums really are worth spending some time digesting. What they were doing was actually really interesting creatively – there was a conscious effort to take the kind of melodic work bands like Iron Maiden were engaged in – particularly in the lead guitars – and almost filter it through the death metal scene they grew up in. And most melodic death metal bands around today still aren’t doing anything much like that.

  • Wilhelm

    Clayman was the last good album, even when Friden started whining on that, it didn’t sound like he was a 6 year old who just dropped his cookie, like it did on every album thereafter. People have recommended come clarity but I tried a few songs and it sucks as well, maybe less than their other modern stuff, but I don’t care, it still sucks. I just listened to Artifacts of the Black Rain today and you can accuse me of being old and stale, but that was good shit.

  • Danny Becker

    Makes Siren Charms look like Whoracle.

    The artwork is incredibly revealing; foreshadows what’s to come: A migraine headache.

  • beurbs

    The embed track makes me feel…
    PITILESS INDIFFERENCE

  • The Unicorn

    These guys need to hang it up already. Yukka.

  • The Unicorn

    Whoracle will always be my fav. Boy what an album that was.

    • Wilhelm

      I agree 100% that was the pinnacle of their songwriting, a pretty much flawless album.

  • JL

    Total mystery of a band. Go to youtube and watch some footage from 1999 on the Colony tour. They were a devastating band, with so much sheer energy and raw emotion in their delivery it should give you chills. Fast forward to today and watch them. Anders is a totally different person musically now. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Jesper left, but even before he did they were starting to suck. Their official website, on the eve of R2R, said “we have shifted the melody from the guitars to the vocals. we sincerely hope you like this album as much as the previous ones.” that is a direct quote. I have no idea why they would do that and alienate so many of their early fans (like me).

    • Brian

      To me, it’s quite simple. Anders got the mid-to-late-twenties metal midlife panic that many of us have either had or been threatened with at some point. Paradise Lost got it too at the end of the 90s but they came out of it; Anders never did. It’s obvious just looking at him that he’s a guy who’s a bit of a tryhard. Once the metal scene had lost its appeal to him, he was all into cutting-edge bands that ‘normal’ people would have heard of like NIN. He’s someone who’s not truly comfortable with himself, he wants to be seen to be listening to and making the right music, wearing the right clothes, etc. This extends to the music where his band simply does not know what it wants to be and hasn’t for a long time.
      I have not bought any IF since the terrible disappointment of ‘…Purpose’ and the one song I listened to from this new album did not convince me otherwise.

      • DNorbsODS

        I’m not a huge fan of the newer stuff, but I saw In Flames a year or two ago on the “Siren Charms” tour, and thought they were still an incredible live band. I didn’t like Siren Charms much AT ALL, and thought even that stuff sounded good live. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d still jump at the chance to see the band live. Even the stuff I don’t particularly like on record ends up hooking me live.

        Also, halfway through “Battles,” I think this is better than Siren Charms. The songs at least have some halfway decent riffs and are catchy. I felt like Siren Charms’ songs basically did nothing during the verses; basically nu metal tracks waiting for the chorus.

    • Matthew

      >Their official website, on the eve of R2R, said “we have shifted the melody from the guitars to the vocals.

      This is the real change in sound. You can hear it on the new album, and on previous albums it has fluctuated quite a bit. On my second listen through Battles I consciously went through it with this in mind – is the melody conveyed through the guitars or through the vocals and synths? It’s the latter, every time, with some open-chords and chugging in the background. At this point they only need one amateur guitarist. Also interesting to note that pop music is partially defined by vocal-led melodies.

    • basshole

      Reroute to Remain, as in get poppy to become a full time touring band.. or keep your integrity and keep your day jobs.. in a way I don’t blame them.. There are other ways that may not have alienated everyone though..

      • The Metal Pigeon

        Had never thought of that title in that way before, good catch. As for that quote posted above from the eve of the R2R release, I’m disappointed in myself for not catching that at the time b/c I used to be a huge In Flames fan and Soundtrack really was the time that appreciation began to diminish. They had a few good moments since (Come Clarity was largely good) but I think the artistic downfall of the band was their shift away from guitar based melodies to vocal melodies…. its one thing if you have a good singer…

        Friden at his 95-2000 prime was simply one of the best melo-death vocalists ever, and maybe the best screamer of all time for my tastes.

        I wish Jesper had never ceded control of the musical direction to Anders… the latter would’ve left and they’d have gotten a new vocalist and we could’ve gotten a few more incredible melo-death albums.

        • basshole

          I agree. Why did Jesper give over control to Anders? Maybe he was on board at first..

          • The Metal Pigeon

            No idea really, wish he’d speak out on it. Maybe he allowed it as a bit of experimentation and it struck a current around that time with their profile rising and it became attributed to Anders direction so he let everyone run with it. I’d imagine his being unhappy with the musical direction coincided with his increase in alcohol abuse…. or perhaps the alcohol abuse allowed him the excuse to cede control to the others. Either way, he was doing the creative decision making after awhile and we all suffered.

    • Eric Ellis

      Dude, these guys are pushing 50 now. Believe it or not, your tastes change as you get older and there’s nothing wrong with that. In all honesty there’s nothing sadder to me than a 45 year old guy trying to act like he’s still 23 as a musician. I expect bands who have been around as long as In Flames to mature in their song writing and performing and that’s exactly what has happened here. Playground and Battles are my personal favorite IF albums but I am 38 now so maybe that has something to do with it? I never liked bands that ONLY scream and now that IF has added a solid singing element to their already great guitar work (seriously, you guys don’t think they are riffing on this album???) they are making great metal music to my ears.

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    It seems they just forgot how to write riffs. Songs like Alias had this capability of getting you hooked in less than a second.

  • Hulksteraus

    When you compare In Flames to Dark Tranquillity it is interesting to track their career trajectories. I like Anders Frieden’s voice, but I still think that Stanne’s trumps his. Also, DT have always had the better lyrics and have been far more consistent. DT have also bucked AMG’s law of diminishing quality with some amazing albums including Atoma, whereas In Flames have been on a downward trend since the 2000’s.

  • Johan

    “After being blasted by the first half of the album, “Through My Eyes” experiences a marked decrease in sound intensity.”

    Thank you! I thought it was just me and something wrong with the stream until I realised that someone had fallen asleep at the mixing desk, not that I can blame them.

    I would say that you’re way to generous with the score Madame, Battles is nothing higher than a 1 for me. Funnily enough, I think Like sand is one of the better songs, with it’s funny verse and mediocre chorus.

  • metalcasket

    Even though they really aren’t all that great, I didn’t mind “The End” and “The Truth” when they first came out. Granted I didn’t listen to them more than a couple of times, but…yeah, they kinda work as super poppy “barely-metal”. The album as a whole, though? Fuuuuuuuucking hell, this is absolutely terrible. As soon as the title track kicked in, I was like “Fuck this, I’m out”. Neither does this crap work as pop, nor metal.

    • GardensTale

      Holy balls you weren’t kidding. I listened to Adema as a teenager and I think even that was better than this shite.

  • Rene Alva

    Bland, uninspired, mediocre alternative rock, Jesper must be laughing his ass off.

  • Matthew

    What really upsets me about both Siren Charms and Battles is that I think Sounds of a Playground Fading is one of the best albums in their discography. Certainly their best since Clayman, in my view. I know that’s not a view everyone shares, but I think they clearly *are* able to write good music in this style of lightly melodeath-influenced alternative metal. But for whatever reason, they’ve just failed to do that on these last two albums. I don’t know why that is.

  • Eryops

    I went to see In Flames with some friends a few years back, despite the fact that I’ve faded away from them over the last decade. Having to sit through Trivium as an opener (they knew better than to show up early) was terrible enough, but it was so sad that they only played I think one song from Clayman, and nothing earlier. They’ve really changed, and the part of me that was sad has long checked out.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This is a step up for these guys…

  • Jeff

    Regardless of everything else it’s easy to complain about being a 10+ year fan – and there’s a lot – what’s with the elementary school choruses? “The End” was kind of cool, then I heard the weird “Another Brick in The Wall” kind of chorus.. wtf?

  • Tristan gummow

    A 2 thats generous. In Flames the charity case of metal reviews

    • Nope. By definition a 2.0 is a disappointing album where you like a couple of tracks. In likelihood it’s an album you won’t come back to. That applies perfectly to this album.

      • Tristan gummow

        Theres that charity again. Couple songs hah. The CIA should use it instead of water boarding to get info from “terrorists”

  • RIATA de DIOS

    Yeah. I really liked what In Flames had done until this point. Battles is not the worst album ever, but it’s really disappointing.

  • RIATA de DIOS

    This has been a very unsatisfactory year: mediocre albums from Lacuna Coil, Helmet and In Flames (Testament was awesome, though…)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Eyeliner Metalcore

  • In Cinders

  • jersey devil

    Oh damn–I had to turn this off after that whiny chorus at about 2:40. Cant take it. Is this for teenage girls or what?

  • Nicole Fourie Owens

    This review is spot on and I find myself in that category of “Used to be a fan”. This is so disappointing for the band that practicality pioneered melodic death metal to fall so far..

  • thiR

    Production thin as paper, lazy songwriting… Man, I thought this band couldn’t stoop lower than A Sense of Purpose, but apparently I was wrong.
    This band is probably the longest joke in existence. Even Linkin Park managed to release a couple of solid albums recently. Even Amon Amarth did an amazing job with their last offering I manage to win me back (after leaving this band aside for like… 6-7 years).

    What hurts though is that some leads are really great and still reminds me of their golden era (especially on “The Truth”)… Like maybe 30 sec on the whole album. Really sad.

  • Danny Becker

    Actually Siren Charms I really enjoy now. An album that the metal community couldn’t open up to. The more i listen to it I enjoy it more. Can’t say the same with battles though

  • Bitch harsh to compare classic inflames to “battles” the metal scene has changed massively and the band has simply evolved… Granted the album is lacking in parts, it’s still not as bad you’ve painted.

  • Eric Ellis

    Am I the only one who LOVES Battles??? I guess it makes sense considering Sounds of a Playground Fading was my favorite In Flames album (with A sense of Clarity closely second). The fact is that I’ve always preferred my metal with a good mix of both catchy singing and heavy screams (with a nice helping of harmony guitar leads sprinkled throughout) a la KSE, Trivium, BFMV, (old) A7X) etc. The fact is that in Battles Anders has truly found his singing voice (much more so than in Playground) and consequently it has become my new favorite IF album. Hey, whatever guys. Hate all you want but this new sound is so much more mature and accessible than old IF and that is a great thing for me anyway.

  • DeadHead

    This band got me into metal in the late 90’s when I was a wee lad. My favorite band for the longest time. Now I’m just depressed every time I hear about them. Beating myself up that I never got to see them live in their hayday.

  • Hoansbuckler

    Wouldn’t it be great if this was their first album and their first album was their last? That trajectory would be fucking awesome to witness. The flames would grow higher and higher. I really wish they changed their name after come clarity. Nothing about these last couple albums is worthy to use that name and sad to see the flames diminish to a weak little ember.

  • J O

    I liked In Flames right up to and including Soundtrack To Your Escape, which is one of my favorite albums. I was actually enjoying their change in sound — at first. Then unlike Madam X, I liked maybe a couple songs on Come Clarity but didn’t like the rest. By ASOP it was like something a call center would make me listen to while I’m on hold.

    If you don’t like their new sound, there is plenty of other stuff to listen to. And it’s not like their old stuff has ceased to exist.