Sound — 9
Many fans have been yearning for a return of The Jester Race era style of In Flames since they traveled from that path on Soundtrack To Your Escape. While this album isn't exactly what they have hoped for, it does serve as a good mix of both old and new In Flames styles which may keep old school fans interested. This album does not disappoint. These Melodeath Godfathers haven't lost their touch. The album is full of the guitar harmonies, melodies, and powerful choruses we'd expect from In Flames and are weaved throughout the album masterfully and the drums are phenomenal as always. They continue to show that they are masters of their craft. The album opens with the single The Mirror's Truth. Although the song is catchy, it's too short. Next is Disconnected, one of the most memorable songs on the album. This song features fast riffs and a powerful, anthemic chorus. Track 3, Sleepless Again, has a brief acoustic intro and is a very solid track. The acoustic guitars are put to better use in Alias with a brilliant bridge. Alias is a great song that features a melody reminiscent of Only For The Weak from Clayman. I could imagine Alias being a live hit, with a chorus you can chant along with. I am The Highway follows the trend of fast and melodic guitars and a sung chorus. Delight and Angers is another sing-along, anthemic song. Move Through Me has a more heavy feeling than previous songs on the album and has a nice groove to it. The guitar solos are a nice touch, too. The album then takes a bold, progressive step with The Chosen Pessimist. This is the longest In Flames song, clocking in at over 8 minutes. This is a slow ballad with an amazing climax, but it feels almost out of place at this point in the album. It feels like this would be a better album closer. The next song Sober and Irrelevant has a classic In Flames feel to it. The guitar solo in this song is fantastic, but it's over too soon, like some of the other solos on this album. Condemned features a heavy groove and some powerful guitar lines that accompany Anders' voice to make this an outstanding song. Drenched In Fear is this album's highlight song. The chorus reminds me of Reroute To Remain's epic chorus. The clean singing and vocal harmonies really make this song stand out. Some might feel that this song is too poppy, but there is nothing wrong with vocal hooks and melodies. Songs like this are what makes In Flames stand out in the metal world. The last song March To The Shore kind of pales in comparison to it's predecessors. It's a good song, don't get me wrong, but it leaves more to be desired and doesn't seem very fitting to be at the end of the album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics in this album follow the trend set by previous efforts, whereas they focus on internal struggles and conflicts with society. They have improved, though, despite a few lines here and there that come across as whiney. As for vocal skills, Anders does a great job. His raspy voice compliments the music well.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, A Sense Of Purpose is a fantastic album. It is without a doubt the best album since Clay Man. Possibly better! In Flames did a great job with this album by mixing aspects of their older and newer styles. Some fans of the old In Flames style may get in a butt-hurt over this album and refuse to give it another try, which is a shame. A Sense of Purpose does take time to sink in, and once it does, you can see it for what it really is a masterpiece!