Sound — 9
In Flames has changed a LOT since the days of Colony and Whoracle, some would say for worse- and I must agree. However, change isn't always the worst thing in the world. While A Sense Of Purpose isn't a great old In Flames album, compare it to new In Flames - Soundtrack To Your Escape and Come Clarity. Come Clarity was, to say the least, a disaster. STYE was better, but not by much. Since Reroute To Remain, the band was going downhill. But upon the release of A Sense Of Purpose, they showed that they could stay melodic while still managing to keep their newfound heaviness. Look at the solo at the beginning of "The Mirror's Truth." Look at the bridge in "Alias." Look at "Delight And Angers." All melodic in a sea of good ol' heavy metal. While it's not Colony, specifically "Zombie Inc.," it is still melodic and manages to fuse heavy metal with Gothenburg-style melodeath. An entertaining experiment and a complete 180 from "Scream," or nearly every song on Come Clarity.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrics are not even worth reviewing when it comes to In Flames. They are similar to bands like (and don't kill me for this) Slipknot in that they can string together cool-sounding phrases that make no sense together but definitely just manage to sound cool with the music. In Flames has never been able to write coherent lyrics, except maybe on "Zombie Inc." Instead, I'll talk about his vocals. Not growling like Whoracle. Not clean like "Come Clarity" (the song). Back to Soundtrack To Your Escape, one of the better In Flames albums vocally (since Clayman, that is). Anders' vocals might not be great, but they work with what they are given.
Overall Impression — 8
I love this album. It could just be a personal thing. My first In Flames song was "Colony." I bought the Colony album after my second In Flames song - "Zombie Inc." - which I still maintain is my favorite of all time. Whoracle was great. Clayman was great. The Jester Race was great. Even Reroute To Remain was great. So why can't A Sense Of Purpose be great? It may be different from the In Flames you know. Whether you're a new fan or old, it's hard to get into it without an open mindset. New fans will whine that it's not as heavy as Come Clarity because it's more melodic and music-oriented instead of heavy-oriented. Old fans will complain that it's too heavy, that they've lost their melody. But I ask you to look beyond first impressions, beyond lines of conserving old sound. "I'm The Highway," possibly the worst song lyrically, sounds the best on the album. "Delight And Angers," "Sleepless Again," and "March To The Shore" also hold their own. Listen to the album as though it were by a completely different band and then form your opinion.