Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

The collective scream of metal heads could be heard throughout record stores world-wide as the metal underdogs, In Flames, released their fifth album entitled Come Clarity. The Gothenburg, Sweden death-metal quintet has the uncanny ability to hold an ever-present flow through their work, especially with Come Clarity. Alongside such other bands as At the Gate and Dark Tranquility, In Flames paved the way for what is now known definitively as the “Gothenburg sound,” further spreading their influence here in the States. With the earth-shattering highly-technical drumming from Daniel Svennson accompanied with the furious guitar riffs of Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Gelotte along with the underlining bass work of Peter Iwers, everything comes together as Anders Friden enters with his most powerful vocal work with Come Clarity.

Guitarists Stromblad and Gelotte appear to have a newly-found harmony, something that can be heard in many of In Flames songs spanning across their various other albums, but not as strongly as their work with the majority of Come Clarity. Unlike their previous albums, like Soundtrack to Your Escape and Reroute to Remain, the crystal-clear guitars and the thunderous drum work is top-notch in an album that is expected to break sales records for the band.

It is for very good reason that the band’s latest work has been received with open arms and ears. Within seconds of commencing the purely metal experience, Come Clarity pulls you straight in and hits hard with the album’s first track and first single release, “Take This Life.” Bursting with fast drums and exploding dual guitars from the very beginning, “Take This Life” sets in motion an album that thoroughly showcases the style of In Flames as well as introduces a few new capabilities.

Following the lightning-fast working of the opening title, Come Clarity manages to slow down the pace while maintaining the power and flow of the band as can be seen in tracks such as “Leeches” and “Reflect the Storm.” Unlike previous albums, In Flame’s latest provides a drearier feel in the vocal workings with sing-a-long choruses in a number of the featured songs.

There is a definite balance of hard-hitting metal and delicate melody that In Flames has performed throughout their albums, even more so in Come Clarity. With tracks like “Dead End,” which utilizes the female vocals of Swedish pop singer Lisa Miskovsky matched with front man Friden’s melodic screaming, and the title track “Come Clarity,” which starts out with acoustic guitar and slow-paced drumming that gradually grows heavier, the versatile ability for In Flames to switch styles and intensity in the midst of a single song is evident. “Dead End” follows in the formula of having the clear crisp female vocals harping out against the rigid growling male counterpart that many gothic bands attempt yet never completely pull it off. In Flames, however, is able to pull off such a feat.

The changes that the band has made since their previous album, Soundtrack to Your Escape, is clear as there is a more defined sense of melody that holds its own against dueling thrash guitars and spastic drumming. Where Soundtrack was a transition in itself towards more accessible, melodic vocals with a more profound sound, Come Clarity makes the very same transition twofold. However, while Soundtrack has been critiqued to be lacking in such power and intensity, Come Clarity would be the much-appreciated and improved response to such criticisms.

This doesn’t mean that Clarity is without its weaknesses, however. It has to be said that this album, much like its genre of music itself, is not completely accessible to everyone. What In Flames presents is a very distinct sound that ends with a feeling of either love it (or hate it). Those that are already open to this sound and do not know of In Flames may be pleasantly surprised. Those that wince at the sound of piercing screams and wailing guitars need not go any further in the pursuit of this album.

Just as easily, those that are aware of the existence of In Flames may call into question how far the band has come, and as smoothly as those unaware of the Gothenburg sound will turn away, fans of the band’s older works may reject the evolution of sound that the band has reached. Not until mid-way through the album does In Flames seem to turn their focus towards their older fans on tracks like “Versus Terminus” and “Vanishing Light”. What these songs display is the more intensified side of In Flames as can be seen in previous works like their debut album, The Jester Race. Still, it may not be enough for the die-hards out there wishing for the true return to the pure form that was first introduced.

By assimilating the various experimenting and evolution of sound through their albums over the last 15 years, In Flames have produced an album that fans, young and old, can effectively thrash about to.

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