Siren Charms review by In Flames

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  • Released: Sep 9, 2014
  • Sound: 3
  • Lyrics: 4
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reviewer's score: 3.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 5.8 (60 votes)
In Flames: Siren Charms
1

Sound — 3
In Flames has fallen so far, both pre- and post-Jesper Stromblad, as to be nearly unrecognizable. "Siren Charms" is a perfect example, the epitome of mediocrity.

Since the departure of founding guitarist (and last member of the original lineup) Jesper Stromblad in 2010, In Flames have released two albums. The first, "Sounds of a Playground Fading" (2011) received panned reviews, mostly skewed toward the positive side. The second, and the newest release, "Siren Charms," is caught between radio rock and radio metal, with neither side sounding even remotely passable.

The first few seconds of the beginning track, "In Plain View," offer a brief glimpse of hope that is taken away immediately when the rest of the band kicks in. The Gothenburg sound is gone without a trace. Guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin deliver a tired and uninspiring barrage of riffs taken straight from the likes of Trivium or Disturbed. There are occasional moments of solid groove that are dashed as soon as they appear. Even the occasional solo offers nothing that hasn't already been heard before. The typical harmonies are still there, but again, nothing new to write home about.

Daniel Svensson carries himself well enough on the drums, even implementing a few techniques that are fairly unique, sometimes a little bit jazzy or even exotic. However, for most of the album, the drums are simply there, carrying the beat and doing nothing more. This must be why they are so distant in the mix.

In the bass department, Peter Iwers plays the rhythm and nothing more. Sometimes the bass is so loud that it's annoying, especially so in "With Eyes Wide Open." Other times, however, the bass is hardly present at all. In the very next track, "Siren Charms"
the bass volume goes down so drastically, that I actually checked my
subwoofer to make sure it hadn't conked out. (It hadn't.)

"Siren Charms" also uses many electronic elements, some better than others. "In Plain View" has sort of a neat electronic introduction that reminded me of the tunnel chase in the movie "The Terminator." However, the most glaring misuse of electronics can be found in "When the World Explodes" (which is, in my opinion, the worst song on the album). The song has a synthesizer break that sounds like it should be on a Europe album from the 1980's. It's bizarre and incredibly out of place.

Lyrics — 4
Anders Friden is back to his "Soundtrack to Your Escape" style whiny vocals. Despite "Soundtrack"'s poor vocals, "Siren Charms" is the first In Flames album where Friden's vocals don't even fit with the music. They're much too loud in the mix, and carry a gratuitous, spacey reverb on most of the tracks.

I've always found Friden's lyrics to make either too much sense, or no sense at all, but I cannot make heads or tails of "Siren Charms." It seems like most of the album carries the "discovering yourself" kind of theme, with some observations about malevolent people. I don't know. You try to interpret this, taken from "Everything's Gone," and tell me what you come up with: "Once you had enough / Break out / Room to breathe / To love / Before you're gone / I'm the one / Who brought the mountain down."

Overall Impression — 3
If In Flames' discography were a line graph, it would begin to descend at "Reroute to Remain," with a high point being "Come Clarity," and after passing "Sounds of a Playground Fading," the line would sharply drop to the bottom of the graph. There is almost nothing enjoyable about this album. Fans of old In Flames will revile this, and I doubt fans of new In Flames will like it either. The least offensive song on this album is "Rusted Nail" which sounds like it's just a leftover from "Playground." It doesn't fit in at all with the rest of the tracklist.

To sum up this entire review: I used to wear an "In Flames We Trust" livestrong bracelet. I took it off after hearing this album.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MusicMan24
    I've listened to this album a couple times now, and even though it doesn't really compare to their older stuff, there ARE some good tunes. I would rather listen to this than a lot of new metal bands that have come out in recent years.
    justinb904
    I enjoyed the album. It's far from my favorite from them but it's not bad at all.
    Cliffhopper
    I've liked every In Flames album so far, but this one I can't get into. I don't hate it, but I don't like it. It's the sort of album that, if someone had it on, I wouldn't actively try to turn it off, but I wouldn't put it on myself either, and that's sad. When an album evokes only a feeling of 'eh, I don't like it enough to turn it up or hate it enough to turn it off,' that's a bad thing.
    HomerSGR
    I'm not a fan of In Flames, nor am I a fan of the melodic death metal genre (or Gothenburg-sound or whatever you want to call it). But I still found something listenable in the last album (Sounds of a Playground Fading), where good songwriting and excellent production stood out even over my dislike for the screamed vocals, and I could honestly say "this is good". It made me feel something. Listening to "Siren Charms", every single trace of all that I felt while listening before is gone. Completely gone. This is terrible.
    Patres87
    Listen with an open mind. Seems mellow at first and it is but there are strong songs on this one. I praise them for trying to evolve further. I would even call it the best record since Come Clarity. The last two albums sounded weird as they were not really decided where they are heading, but this one it's seems more obvious and that's what I like about it.
    GenerationKILL
    This album sucked. Not a single memorable track on it. They should've just named this album "all filler, no killer." I saw an article a while ago where In Flames said they achieved their career goals years ago. Good, then retire because music like this is an insult to the band's name. Not to mention All of the founding members have moved on. I stopped caring about this band when Jesper left. And I can see why he did, he probably couldn't stand the wankery these guys were making that's ruined the name "In Flames"
    Metallichemical
    With all due respect, as far as the public knows, it was for a completely different reason that Jesper left, so look into that. Jesper was with the band until 3 1/2 years ago and was still a huge part of their history way past the 2000s.
    Drake-sic
    Ever since I got into In Flames after Come Clarity and was then blown away from their back catalogue I've been waiting for a new album that makes me WOW. My other favourite band, Bodom, have made good albums since I got into them after Are You Dead Yet - I love the new stuff and the old stuff. But as for In Flames, they haven't made an album since I got into them that I really like and this album was so disappointing. No track really sticks out and it's just very bland and boring, I've tried several times to get into it and just ... nothing sticks. Fun note - at Hellfest in June, about 9 months after the release, they had a standard 'In Flames' banner up, not a Siren Charms one ... I feel they gave up early in trying to promote the album...
    boudewijnnoor
    i'm finally digging it haha in plain view and everything's gone are excellent, although the recording isn't as good as their previous albums, i think they should have recorded it in their own studio
    xkovacsx09
    This band needs Jesper back.
    Mahoru
    Nah, I don't think that would do much. Jesper was still in the band for A Sense of Purpose and that one isn't that much better than Siren Charms in my opinion, and Sounds of a Playground Fading is notably better than both, and without Jesper. They just need to settle what they want to do instead of being all over the place, and actually write full songs with a structure, instead of just piecing some generic riffs together without much thought, because that usually results in aimless songs with abrupt changes and endings (and this album is full of that).
    Karlosaarsen
    After my first listen to the siren charms album I agreed with the review rating of 4/10 and didn't like it, but after listening to it alot more I'm really enjoying it. It's one of those albums that grow on you.
    Fatewhip
    "Siren Charms" has In Flames spanning in a few directions, but it neither reacquire their old sound, nor find a new captivating sound. ... Whoever wrote this, hide your children, the grammar police are coming.