In Flames 12th studio album opens with the melodic & hard hitting, Drained. A bit of a showcase early on for In Flames signature sound. Metal riffs, heavy vocals mixed with soaring moments that may not be the freshest thing in metal but serves the band so well.
It’s a repetitive yet catchy start helped by a brief but exciting solo near the end.
Coming in at 55 minutes long it’s hard not to approach the rest of the album with a sense of trepidation. In Flames aren’t known for their complicated song structure & differing elements. Something that becomes all too clear on The End, a beat-driven song that follows a very familiar formula.
When it does break the mould it’s often to the songs detriment. Like Sand has this brief but incredibly irritating effect that sounds so out of place, The Truth has an odd electronic opening with clap along gang-vocals that come across forced & Great Greed’s lazy ‘woah-oh-oh’ chorus background sounds ripped straight from the pop-rock playbook.
The highlights are Anders Fridén’s vocals & the guitars, in particular solos that pop up here & there. In Flames keeps that stuff brief but they really lift certain songs like The Truth, In My Room & Save Me. It wanes as the album goes on unfortunately & becomes more background noise for the vocals.
Fridén is a great singer slipping between a more raspy metal style & beautiful soaring choruses. On the softer songs like Wallflower it does lose punch, the droning & bland tune hardly giving him much to work with.
By time the penultimate song, Greatest Greed arrives this album has over-stayed its welcome. At this stage it’s clear In Flames don’t have anything else in the pot & it should have ended a few songs earlier.
This is not a bad album, it’s a solid In Flames album that should please their fans but unlikely to win any detractors over. It’s beat-laden melodies aren’t particularly exciting but a combination of great vocals & great guitar work steps it up a notch.
Overall Track Listing:
2. The End
3. Like Sand
4. The Truth
5. In My Room
6. Before I Fall
7. Through My Eyes
9. Here Until Forever
10. Underneath My Skin
12. Save me
13. Greatest Greed
14. Us Against the World
In Flames - Battles (Nuclear Blast Records)
The Final Score - 6/10
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