A Sense Of Purpose review by In Flames

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  • Released: Apr 1, 2008
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (298 votes)
In Flames: A Sense Of Purpose
18

Sound — 10
If you listen to classic In Flames records such as 'Colony' and 'The Jester Race', that helped define the melodic death metal genre, and then listen to more recent tracks like 'Scream' or 'F(r)iend', the considerable difference can often spark a negative reaction, and has done in In Flames' core fanbase for years now. But you know what? It doesn't matter, because 'A Sense Of Purpose' is a truly brilliant album, and any critics who are still having trouble getting over the band as they were in 2004 are simply missing out. Their last effort, 2006's 'Come Clarity', was far from poor either, but 'A Sense Of Purpose' is the album that In Flames have been threatening to make ever since that oh-so-controversial change in sound. So, the sound of the album is an interesting one for In Flames fans, any review you read of this album will tell you that they've filled the album with lead guitar and the classic harmonies that really set In Flames apart from any pretenders. No matter how hard anyone tries, the sound of Jesper Strmblad and Bjrn Gelotte is impossible to imitate, as the two have always (that is, since Bjrn switched from drums to full time guitarist on 'Colony') gelled, and their understanding of harmony and their melodic awareness has remained intact since In Flames' inception in 1990. Sure, it wasn't that prominent in 'Reroute To Remain' or 'Soundtrack To Your Escape', but it was always there and since those albums it has really made a return and has become the most important part of In Flames' music once again. Not only that, but the clean vocals of Anders Fridn have taken up Jesper's style of melodic composition, and really work as In Flames melodies. Anyone who has heard songs like 'Come Clarity' will be glad to hear that the clean vocals, while a lot more frequent, have actually improved massively. In fact, the vocals as a whole have gotten much better. Anders actually performs with real conviction and strength on 'A Sense Of Purpose', and has abandoned the whiny half-assed muttering that truly ruined a lot of songs on 'Soundtrack To Your Escape' especially. If you really miss his vocal style as shown with his work with fellow Gothenburg legends Dark Tranquillity, then you won't be relieved here, but hopefully if you listen to the album openly you will recognise that the vocals here are solid in their own right. The drumming, as always, is top notch, with Daniel Svensson delivering yet another absolutely stellar performance, and even though his beats are not at all unique to each song, he performs with finesse and brings a lot of the songs to life. Accompanying him in the rhythm section is bassist Peter Iwers. Now, the bass guitar has never, ever been a particularly noticeable part of In Flames' sound, however Peter's thick bass tone compliments the multiple layers of guitars over it perfectly and really makes some of the album's riffs feel incredibly heavy. You know, even though this new album could be considered a real mixture of their previous work, the sound of the album is very consistent and every single song is enjoyable and valuable: that's not something that I could say about an In Flames album since 'Whoracle'. If you enjoy intensely melodic metal, then this album is most definitely for you.

Lyrics — 8
Honestly, the lyrics of 'Come Clarity' were pathetic. They were whiny, they were repetitive and they contained countless lines that just made you cringe. While I certainly can't say that the lyrics on 'A Sense Of Purpose' can be compared to the poetry of 'The Jester Race', there has been a dramatic improvement. The lyrics still seem to mostly deal with internal struggles and personal issues, however there is only one song on the entire album where the lyrics are so clich that it actually makes you stop and think what Anders was thinking whilst writing them (and all of their albums since 'Clayman' have had several such moments), and that's on 'Disconnected' (I feel like shit, but at least I feel something does not do it's anthemic chorus justice), and several of the chorus lines in particular have that quality that really have a lot of power even if you aren't immediately aware of what they mean, and that's something that Anders should really be proud of.

Overall Impression — 10
If you have truly hated every bit of music you've heard from In Flames since 'Clayman', then I can't say that you will like this album, however if you think that 'Come Clarity' was a definite step in the right direction, then you will want to hear this. It's the album that defines In Flames' sound as the band that they are today. It's played with total conviction and it shows that the recording process was a very enjoyable one (and you know this if you've watched their in-studio videos). It is, ultimately, just a fantastic In Flames album, boasting 12 songs of the highest quality that acknowledges the band's history, both distant and recent, and takes them into new places (the eight minute journey 'The Chosen Pessimist' is testament to that) that hopefully proves that In Flames have not lost their way.

85 comments sorted by best / new / date

    emr_steelmech
    thecameronator wrote: that 2nd review, made me cringe... i mean, he/she has there own opinion, but calling the jester races lyrics "a joke" and saying they didnt make sense? *shakes head*
    +1. First review was very good and thorough however.
    legot
    I love both their old and new stuff,and this album is just greaaaat!! Well...It's In Flames I'll never get enough from Colony and Jester Race,though
    KoRnBitch
    Every kind of In Flames is ****ing great. OLD & NEW. ASOP is a great album, I love it.
    Josh Laiho
    THIS GODDAMN ALBUM SUCKS!!! YOU ARE A STUPID FUCK IF YOU LIKE ANY OF IN FLAMES NEW SHIT!!!
    atomicblast
    Yeaaaaah... Bedtime Story was probably one of In Flames ' best songs since who knows when. This album is much more solid than even Come Clarity, and unlike CC, I've actually been listening to this one. It's not an album of the past, but it's good enough for a few spins.
    Perpetual Burn
    Benjibum wrote: I dont like old in flames... I guess that makes me a worse fan than those other gus who only like their old stuff, huh? I heart old In Flames!!! No one has posted their hardcore dedication to old In Flames yet... Hurry up!
    dsaanm
    Been waiting for this album for some time and I didn't get disaponted in the result. Great review.
    thecameronator
    that 2nd review, made me cringe... i mean, he/she has there own opinion, but calling the jester races lyrics "a joke" and saying they didnt make sense? *shakes head*
    say5ss2
    new album? Mehh... Although they have returned slightly to their original roots but i have to say that the vocals are just appalling... i mean cmon its just dry whinny and just sounds wrong.....
    Benjibum
    I dont like old in flames... I guess that makes me a worse fan than those other gus who only like their old stuff, huh? No one has posted their hardcore dedication to old In Flames yet... Hurry up!
    ShoeFaceBass
    New album = Not very good waaaaay to whiny, just like Come Clarity. I dont think they'll ever top Whoracle, that's just a really badass album.
    +}-136-{+
    I'm definitely going to check this out. Although the guitar melodies of 'Come Clarity' weren't that good, the vocal melodies were. Hopefully there'll be a mix of that in this album.
    hitek008
    they been around for long time so they gradually progess with their sound...so what...still havent heard the new album, OLD&NEW in flames still badass
    r04ch
    the start of sleepless again is awesome with the acoustics.
    adamdrulz
    Yup, best album in a long time for them, I find it also as one of their softest, not by much, and neither is that a bad thing. The Mirror's Truth is a fantastic single. One of the 3 best metal albums released this year.
    adamdrulz
    Yup, best album in a long time for them, I find it also as one of their softest, not by much, and neither is that a bad thing. The Mirror's Truth is a fantastic single. One of the 3 best metal albums released this year.
    IfDaysEnd
    duncang wrote: Mate.Feed.Kill. wrote: Matt_1213 wrote: This album is brilliant. It makes me smile when the 'true death-metallers' rag on Flames for being 'generic', when they forget that they helped establish the genre in the first place. Doubtless they'll be posting below soon enough In Flames didn't pioneer death metal, they helped pioneer in the gothenburg era but the certainly weren't the first (see Entombed, Dark Tranquility). I like the first better The Jester Races lyrics were amazing. I'm definitely gunna check it out as long as it isn't another soundtrack, which I'm hearing it might be. Hah, since when did Entombed pioneer the Gothenburg sound?
    Anders was on Dark Tranquility... They exchanged vocalists a long time ago...
    staind_dust87
    Why can't fans understand that people change and there music style and taste changes, In Flames will never sound like they did on The Jester Race, so get over it, if you hate everything they've done since there first CDs then your not much of a fan anyway. I like this new album, but I don't think it's not near as good as come clarity, which I think is one of the best metal albums ever. But still, good album.
    *toki*
    sounds awsome! in flames rule and they keep getting better with every album
    touji-za-nai
    this album rocks!! takes some getting use to just because it is yet another change of tone for in flames but i still love it!! 8.5/10
    rahnercore
    i jumped on the in flames bandwagon pretty late in the game (around the release of come clarity)...but after listening to older stuff and newer stuff...i gotta say, i like the newer stuff a little better. don't get me wrong, old stuff is kickass...i happen to like the direction they're going in now
    whitesummer527
    and to say Anders lyrics were a joke on the Jester Race is complete BS! Does anyone else hate the new lyrics he writes? its always the same thing, he can't sleep or hes trying to escape. There is no imagery or imagination really, anyone troubled 14 year old could write them.
    stumaster18
    downloading this right now. then it either gonna buy it or delete it. I hate the prices of metal albums these days. such a rip off.
    chaseNbadguys
    I am so there! I have been waiting for this to come out and am going to buy it right now!
    skyillusion
    First off, I would like to say that this album is amazing, definitely reminiscent of their old days, as well as a good mixture of the newer albums. And I don't think any of the albums have been awful, they all have their gems on it, some just more so than others. I don't understand why so many people hated Soundtrack t your Escape and Come Clarity, I've been a fan on In Flames for a long time and one of my favorite songs is from Soundtrack to Your Escape. Regardless, bands change for reasons unbeknownst to us, just take the album as it is, it definitely has its moments.
    Colchester91
    I haven't got it yet but I gather it's not like they're old stuff. That's disappointing. They're new stuff is fine. It's just not the excellence of Whoracle or Colony. I guess 'The New In Flames' is like a beer with no head. Sure it's nice, but it just isn't special anymore.
    unbridled03
    Well obviously they're trying to grab a new younger audience and the "angsty" "simple" lyrics will hit home for a lot of the 14 year olds who like to pretend to hate everything.
    unbridled03
    First off, the second review is moronic. Second, this isn't an awful album. I think it had a lot of promise but in MY opinion the vocals suck the creativity out of the songs with predictability. We all know there's going to be Anders singing in the choruses... They do make a better attempt at solos and some of the riffs are catchy, but I cannot get over the fact that sometimes Anders sounds like Jonathan Davis. Take for example "Alias" Listen to it and tell me it doesn't sound like Davis making a cameo. I'm not at all disappointed. I've realized that they will never make another "Colony" or "Whoracle". You just kinda have to take them as they are. Bands change for whatever reasons. These guys still put on a hell of a show and are one of my favorite bands of all time. I just don't enjoy their Post "Clayman" music as much.
    fecefeast
    First... cool, I might check it out. Im not a huge In Flames fan but It looks promising
    chris_libby_88
    the album doesnt suck, but it is super poppy sounding. i dont really like it, except for a few riffs and solos
    Stuminton
    Josh Laiho wrote: THIS GODDAMN ALBUM SUCKS!!! YOU ARE A STUPID FUCK IF YOU LIKE ANY OF IN FLAMES NEW SHIT!!!
    i conclude you do not like it
    MassacreDeicide
    Whoracle, Lunar Strain, Come Clarity, and A Sense of Purpose... yeah, good shit. and who was the kid who said that Anders' vocals screwed up the album... **** that, he has been the voice of In Flames and Sweden for 12 years, almost 13... get used to it kid. if you wanna post hate mail, throw it in fall Out boys direction...
    SOADwannabe
    first? anyway, i love the new album as well as their sound on Come Clarity. If you're a fan of their old work you probably will hate how they have changed.
    legato boy
    great album! 'alias', 'condemned', 'the mirrors truth', 'the chosen pessimist' and 'drenched in fear' are excellent
    jester ed
    Anders ruins this otherwise ok album. The vocals are predictible and just boring but there are at least a couple of good moments instrumentally.
    Matt_1213
    This album is brilliant. It makes me smile when the 'true death-metallers' rag on Flames for being 'generic', when they forget that they helped establish the genre in the first place. Doubtless they'll be posting below soon enough
    llanafreak44
    I LOVE old In Flames, but I LIKE new In Flames. The album was kind of repetitive sounding. The first two songs sound so similar in the choruses.
    atomicblast
    Yeaaaaah... Bedtime Story was probably one of In Flames ' best songs since who knows when. This album is much more solid than even Come Clarity, and unlike CC, I've actually been listening to this one. It's not an album of the past, but it's good enough for a few spins.
    The JesterHead
    The new album would be excellent in every way, but the "I feel like shit, but at least I feel something" part was close to destroying the entire album... Those are the worst lines In Flames has ever made, although the rest of the song is really not bad... Anyway, the album is really good, if only the lyrics were less personal - it's kinda boring to hear the same stuff for the last 8 years...
    duncang
    Mate.Feed.Kill. wrote: Matt_1213 wrote: This album is brilliant. It makes me smile when the 'true death-metallers' rag on Flames for being 'generic', when they forget that they helped establish the genre in the first place. Doubtless they'll be posting below soon enough In Flames didn't pioneer death metal, they helped pioneer in the gothenburg era but the certainly weren't the first (see Entombed, Dark Tranquility). I like the first better The Jester Races lyrics were amazing. I'm definitely gunna check it out as long as it isn't another soundtrack, which I'm hearing it might be.
    Hah, since when did Entombed pioneer the Gothenburg sound?
    Harmonix123
    Personally, I think their new sound is great. It sounds a little cleaner than their previous albums.