Siren Charms review by In Flames

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  • Released: Sep 9, 2014
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 5.8 (60 votes)
In Flames: Siren Charms
8

Sound — 5
While In Flames originated as a small side project that didn't have a concrete lineup and independently produced their modest debut album, "Lunar Strain," they would soon bloom into an influential force in the metal world; being one of the main bands responsible for the Gothenburg metal scene and pioneering the melodic death metal subgenre with their next few albums, "The Jester Race," "Whoracle" and "Colony." As their inspirational style started to catch on worldwide, In Flames would resultantly grow more popular, though many have felt that as the band strived towards more popularity, their sound took a detrimental turn for the soft, as evident in their early noughties albums, "Reroute to Remain" (which, despite its chilly reception, was a good album name for its intention), and "Soundtrack to Your Escape."

As the breadth of original In Flames fans would wane on sticking with the band that had strayed away from their remarkable sound from before, In Flames would bring forth another lightning-in-a-bottle album, "Come Clarity," which earned high regard for re-administering the original strengths of the band and augmenting them to a more accessible sound, and would mark the band's zenith of popularity. In Flames' last couple albums may not have made as much impact as "Come Clarity" (though it's inherently tough for any album to have to follow a standout record), but they continue on with their eleventh album, "Siren Charms."

What seems to be the biggest riddle for In Flames and their sound as of lately is how they want to direct it: "A Sense of Purpose" was essentially an echo of "Come Clarity" that didn't yield as much acclaim, and "Sounds of a Playground Fading" started to stray away once again from the band's rediscovered heaviness to a less-aggressive, guitar-solo-centric alt-metal style akin to Demon Hunter.

With "Siren Charms," In Flames are moving further towards a more commercial-friendly metal sound, but in the variance found in the tracks, it seems that they're not exactly sure how they want to do that. With all songs spreading out amongst a spectrum of heaviness, it ultimately displays a wishy-washiness for how the band wants to sound: they sound like Slipknot in "Everything's Gone" and tread on deathcore territory in "When the World Explodes," but also travel in the polar opposite direction with the flaccid "Through Oblivion" and the ballad metal songs "With Eyes Wide Open," "Rusted Nail" and "Dead Eyes," where the large investment in clean vocals and timid metal instrumentation makes them sound more like Breaking Benjamin or Staind - which, for those that knew and liked In Flames during their classic era, will be utmost jarring for you.

However, "Siren Charms" isn't a full-on amnesia spell, and In Flames shows some calling back to older material: with the integral usage of synths, songs like "In Plain View," "Paralyzed," and "Monsters in the Ballroom" are reminiscent of "Soundtrack to Your Escape," and the guest female vocals of Emilia Feldt in "When the World Explodes" attempts to channel the spirit of the band's track "Dead End" from "Come Clarity," which featured guest vocals from Swedish pop star Lisa Miskovsky. Generally, though, the overbearing triteness of "Siren Charms" echoes the same problem that In Flames had when they moved towards a commercial-friendly sound the first time around, which comes off as watered down.

Lyrics — 5
Within the last few albums, In Flames' lyrics have shown numerous cases of introspective ponderings of aging and finality, which ties with the band having been around for so long - from the beginning "Come Clarity" line "rushing through thirty, getting older every day," to the poignant self-awareness of feeling "past their prime" in "Sober and Irrelevant" in "A Sense of Purpose," to "The Jester's Door" in "Sounds of a Playground Fading," which, at its time, seemed like a clear message of the band signing off.

It's clear that the song wasn't a curtain call, though, now with In Flames bringing forth "Siren Charms," but the album shows the lyrics once again including the allusion of the band's final days- from "this life is killing me/my feelings inside, I can't explain/I'm awake, but not for long" in "Siren Charms," and "my destination, my mission, my intuition/so close I feel it changing me/suddenly I know I have to let it go" in "Through Oblivion" - and even if the band has been feeling this way for years, with a message that's about the looming end, its insightful potency is reduced the further it's stretched along.

However, In Flames doesn't exclusively harp on this, and a good amount of "Siren Charms" shows the lyrical matter taking a more positive and uplifting direction, like in "Rusted Nail," "Dead Eyes," "Monsters in the Ballroom," and even the aggressive-sounding "When the World Explodes," which, while not a saving grace for the album, is a case of variance that's better than seeing only more of the same.

Overall Impression — 5
First and foremost, "Siren Charms" is not a return to the vintage In Flames melodic death metal sound that many still hope will come someday, but since the past couple of albums, it seems pretty clear that In Flames isn't interested in revamping the 20th-century version of themselves.

But more than anything, it's the uncertainty of direction that makes "Siren Charms" flounder, and the band's inability to commit to how they want to sound leaves the album with a lack of cohesion. Even the previous "Sounds of a Playground Fading," which was unsurprisingly panned for not bringing back the band's melodic death metal style in full effect, still managed to have a clear goal, and the commitment to the alt-metal style turned out feasible. "Siren Charms" shows no clear goal, and consequently, doesn't succeed.

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ypnovatis
    What is Slipknot "Everything's Gone"?
    TryTheKetchup
    Actually, the reviewer meant that In Flames' "Everything's Gone" sounds like Slipknot. Or they sound like Slipknot in this one. Clear enough now, right?
    crazysam23_Atax
    WHY, In Flames? WHY?! You guys used to be so great, innovative even. Now...it's like you have no f*cking idea. You're riding trends in an odd way, and it isn't good.
    oliwilton
    I actually really liked Sounds of a Playground Fading, and I'm a fan of both old In Flames and new In Flames, but this album really was disappointing.
    Bart123
    I like the new album and it's not their worst to date in my opinion. Also I can't help but feel that people don't give this a fair chance and have only listened to it once. In my opinion this is the kind of music that keeps getting better when you listen to it more, exact opposite to almost all popular music out there today. In my opinion anyway, I know music is subjective. By the way I find it pretty laughable that some people still believe they're going to bring the old style back. Also I'm baffled that the reviewer interprets the lyrics as messages they're going to quit...
    sdbrown89
    Another mediocre album from a band I once worshipped... And the reviwer is saying that on the song "Everything's Gone", they sound like Slipknot
    Lensver
    Lunar Strain as a "modest" album? Please. It had great lyrics, ambition, and awesome - albeit raw - musicianship. All these things are missing from Siren Charms.
    keefsy
    I love all In Flames, new and old. I have been enjoying In Flames for a good 15 years. I have a jester head tattoo on my wrist. I am an In Flames fan. Sorry guys, but what the **** have you done here?
    Shadow914
    Could not agree more, In Flames we trust. I love all of In Flames work, new and old, despite the few bumps like Reroute to Remain, which had SOME good songs like Transparent and System. I hated Sounds of a Playground Fading at 1st but it grew on me and is one of my fav albums by them, though NOTHING will unseat Come Clarity from the throne. That said, this album is truly soulless. I saw the interview with Anders stating that they achieved all they've wanted to in their music career and are making music for themselves how they want. While I agree that all music should be made for the musician first and if fans connect with it then a symbiosis is born. But it's as if they could care less with this album. If this is the music THEY want to make then I have no authority to demand they change it, especially considering they gave me such cathartic music which I am forever indebted to. However, there is no connection to be had with an album as sterile as this. It's a pity how gods can fall.
    bdof
    Yup.....pretty horrible. Just don't understand how such a good band could get so bad. Not quite as bad as Five Finger Death Punch has become, but they're certainly on track
    EpiExplorer
    Its like Every Time I Die without any of the whacky crazy fun-ness. Also, I swear the intro to Rusted Nail is already a Scar Symmetry lick.
    Barendino
    Sounds like the dutch band 'Kane' with a little bit more distortion... and no, that is not positive.
    BwareDWare94
    While I don't always like the direction In Flames goes, I have to admit--for what it is, in the context of each album, it's done very very well. It all comes down to preferred genres. While I do lean more toward the Melodeath side, as long as I hear elements, I'll be fine with whatever direction they go. Even if you don't like the album, you have to admit that In Flames has some of the most tasteful lead guitar in popular metal. Have you seen them live? Bjorn is an absolute monster. One of the best live guitarists I've ever seen.
    aries0490
    Saw them live in 2012 and biggest sound I've ever experienced! Pure power!
    Mahoru
    I wouldn't say Siren Charms is unlistenable, but it's definitely not good. I'd say it's an album that is "just there": you listen to it, the whole thing without any clear direction and some tracks which drag on for too long, and by the end of the album you've already forgotten most of it without any desire to listen to the whole thing again. At least that was my experience. In Plain View, Dead Eyes or Monsters in the Ballroom are the only ones which I find somewhat good, and also Become the Sky if we take bonus tracks into account (but still not any better than the good stuff from the last few albums). In most of the other songs I find some good ideas but by the end of each song I end up disappointed because they're never fully explored. The whole thing just feels very empty and lazy, so to say. Sounds of a Playground Fading suffered from many of the same issues as a whole, but at least it had more interesting riffs and songs were better structured in general (plus it had The Attic and A New Dawn, which in my opinion are two of the best songs In Flames have ever written, in contrast with most of that album). Also the fact that the mixing on this album is pretty bad doesn't help; drums and vocals are pushed in the front (to the point of clipping in some tracks!) while guitars and bass are too low most of the time. In the end I quite agree with the review, I'd personally rate this album at 4.5/10. Mostly listenable, but also mostly forgettable, devoid of any interest and frustrating.
    Jipley0
    Well... In better news, At The Gates' new album "At War With Reality" comes out next month. Definitely excited.
    nmnmnm25
    Going soft isnt the problem, there are bands that soften up and make good music still, this just isnt the best song writing....they miss Jesper
    ciadude2
    I agree. My favorite Slipknot song is actually Snuff, which is quite a bit lighter than their usual style. I'm not usually a fan of theirs, but that song is awesome IMO.
    JSmith38
    Not as good as their previous stuff but did any of us honestly expect them to keep re-making Clayman or Jester Race? I like it well enough to keep listening to it. Not album of the year or anything but I enjoy it. Sorry if you don't like it. Can't please everyone I guess.
    Abacus11
    I don't know what happened to In Flames... pretty much everything they recorded from Lunar Strain thru Clayman was GREAT - much heavier than most melodic metal and more melodic than most other metal (especially at the time. I understand experimenting and exploring new ideas and sounds but this band has gotten worse and worse with each album. Too bad.
    aries0490
    I love this new album. Always appreciate new material from a band. And I love how so many old-school fans are going through so much butthurt right now. Get over yourselves. This album is a beautiful addition to the collection. Shit review by the way.. Commiseration everywhere.
    blooddrunk
    'Everything's Gone' is the only decent track. in flames need to stop the arty farty crap and go back to breaking necks. anders needs to train his voice to growl again. here he sounds too whiny.
    kill it
    this is really too bad, in flames are much better than this. i do like the wall of marshalls.
    the_bi99man
    I'm not sure where the "'A Sense of Purpose' was essentially an echo of 'Come Clarity'" comment comes from. I felt like Sense of Purpose was a huge step backwards, and sounded more like Reroute and Soundtrack than anything else. After getting so excited about the new sound of Come Clarity (which I think is their second best album, right between Clayman and Colony), I was disappointed with Sense of Purpose because it didn't sound like Come Clarity. Kind of why I stopped paying attention, and never even listened to Playground.
    Charlie4
    I embrace change because music cannot evolve without it, ex. jazz. IN Flames are one of my favourite bands but from what I've heard so far, this album is their Some-Kind-of-Monster/Lulu album. If Anders could actually sing it would be a different ball game but this album doesn't appeal to me, as of yet. Maybe it will grow on me?
    FlyingPirahna
    I think a 5 is a little too harsh. This album does fall a little flat, moreso out of a lack of memorable songwriting than anything else, but I think it's still a solid release from a band as far into their career as they are. They really get way too much criticism for changing their sound, too. If they were still making copies of The Jester Race and Whoracle 15 years on, no one would be here right now. People would've gotten bored of them. I love the fact that they've gone through so many different sounds and tried new things, it's what makes them one of my favorite bands.
    the_bi99man
    So anyway I just listened to the two singles linked here. I like Through Oblivion more than Rusted Nail. Both of them are better than the similar sounding stuff I hear on the radio these days, so I guess they're doing good, for what they're doing. It is disappointing though, for In Flames to even be comparable to that crap.