It is safe to say that I wasn’t a fan of the last In Flames album, ‘Battles’, where I said “Now, change isn’t necessarily bad, and it can often be good, but then there are also the concerns that the band haven’t changed so much as having left the planet altogether and gone into a new universe. Possibly one where they have been starved of oxygen which could explain what they are doing now.” So, when I realised there was a new album out, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect of listening to it. Between this album and the last they have changed the rhythm section, and one wonders just how much that has had an impact on the overall sound as although this is not a return to the classic sound which made them so many fans, it is certainly a huge leap to the better.
Okay, so it is still alternative metal as opposed to the melodic death with which they made their name, and the overall sound seems quite compressed and being kept under tight control as opposed to being allowed to roam free and find the right spot. They still sound as if they are angry young Americans as opposed to a Swedish act who have been together for nearly 30 years and should really know better by now. But the riffs are tight, the guitar interplay works, and I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the album. I found myself playing it without gritting my teeth and bearing it just for the sake of a review, which is a massive difference between the last release and this one. There is no way that In Flames will ever have the impact they did when they burst onto the scene all those years ago, but if they keep producing music like this then old fans may at least tolerate what they are doing, and they may even gain some new ones. I won’t be so hesitant when I next see a new album by the band, and that at least is progress.