Sound — 8
So I got hold of a promo of this album. My feelings are mixed, to say the least. The guitars are, at least to an extent, back. Bjorn and Jesper are at least during solos, approaching their old standards, even if they do all seem to be melody -> harmonised version -> Screeching AH harmonic with Zakk Wylde Vibrato -> Fast scale run -> Done. Nonetheless, the chugging chords are still ample and superior to STYE and R2R. Peter Iwers (bass) excells himself, surprisingly, and has finally given up root note almost entirely. Mr Svennson (drums) is blasting away annoyingly most of the time, but shows some real ability that has not been seen before. Sadly, some songs are just plain awful. It hurts me to say this, but they've actually gone a bit screamo in places. And as if this wasn't enough, they've unsurprisingly opted for faceless death metal in many situations where you would previously expected a powerful melody break, were you blissfully ignorant of their last two offerings. But all is not lost: there is a clear and profound improvement on Come Clarity. Melodies are back and many songs feature tour de forces of melodic ideallism (see Pacing Death's Trail's intro theme, and solo). In fact, as you listen to the album an improvement becomes more visible. "Crawl Through Knives" has a intro riff which could contend with the best of their pit-igniting riffs. It is not alone, gladly. There is definitely something here for those who liked STYE though, (see Versus Terminus for starters, then wind back and let the album roll), as well as at least meat for fans of the older In Flames. It is also clear that the band have been listening to their contempories, when they serve up the first part of the Arch Enemyesque Vanishing Light. The final track is an enigma. It begins with piano triads in the style of someone as mainstream as Coldplay, accompanied by samples and odd keyboard instrumentation. The melody clearly began in a similar way to many of In Flames - Whoracle's themes; the two guitar players sat down and played an improvised classical-style folk song on accoustic guitars, and then revised it to acheive a new effect. However, as it ends I find my self hoping my promo is damaged, since it just goes on for three minutes, hardly changing, before stopping abruptly.
Lyrics — 7
Anders' singing ranges from Johnathan Davis style speach to his own brand of blood-curdling roar. It is noteworthy that the balance it struck excellently on the album.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall this album is an improvement, and I hope it represents a swing which will continue. It is evidence that they are still as good as they used to be, but are simply having a bit of a rethink which is either a mistake, or is having massive teething issues. It's worth listening to, even if I did make a lot of use of my fast forward/skip button. I'd recommend this to any existing In Flames fan, but I think it's a bit esoteric for mainstream. Time will tell, I guess, but the more I listen to this CD, the more impressed I am with In Flames' musical progression.