Monday, September 8, 2014

In Flames - Siren Charms (2014)

I honestly feel sorry for In Flames. The amount of shit they have gotten from the metal community the last decade has mostly been uncalled for. Sure, they started off as one of the leaders in the Swedish melodic death metal scene and has now developed their music into something different, but I still feel like they have done several right choices in moving their music into another dimension. I will always commend a band that is willing to move forward with their music and not rely on staying in a small range of the musical spectrum. I still think classics like "Clayman" and "The Jester Race" are the band's best work and that their newer material is not near the same quality, but they have not really created any horrible albums so far in their career (except for the horribly uneven "A Sense of Purpose").

But after hearing "Rusted Nail" and "Through Oblivion" (the two first singles from the album), I was tempted to do like many other metal heads, and call "Siren Charms" one of the worst releases this year without even hearing the entire album, but that would ultimately be stupid. After hearing the album, I still think "Siren Charms" is a big step backwards compared to the 2011 release "Sounds of A Playground Fading", but it is not a album I would consider as the worst of the worst in 2014.

However, there are several points in "Siren Charms" that bugs me out. The singer Anders Fridén sounds more like Korn singer Jonathan Davis for every album, and it is obviously not a good sign. Nothing against Jonathan, I just don't think this style of singing fits very well with the music In Flames is playing. It is especially bad since it seems like neither the harsh or clean vocals works out for him. Then the overall song quality is pretty much substandard, especially since most of the songs sounds like bad copies of any song from "SoAPF". "Rusted Nail" is a perfect example of that. It has an interesting riff and the verse is intriguing, but the chorus is so boring that I fall asleep. At the end of the day, it is the fact that "Siren Charms" contains too much electronic sounds and not enough guitars that makes me despise the album. A small hint of electronica is fine, don't over do it please.

It is hard for me to just chose a couple of bad songs to rant on, because the album is filled with them. Worst of them is probably "Through Oblivion" that feels like a bad indie track that only a hipster could love. Might be the worst song the band has ever created. Other bad moments in "Siren Charms" are the bland ballad "With Eyes Wide Open", the boring torture device "Dead Eyes" and the bad "Where The Dead Ships Dwell" copy "Monsters In The Ballroom". I also wished that the two bonus tracks "The Chase" and "Become the Sky" would at least try to lift the album, but to no avail.

Luckily, there are a couple of tracks that makes me endure this record. "Everything's Gone" impresses with its heavy riffs and aggressive attitude (it is the only song in the album that even is some what close to the "old" In Flames), while the title track does have its moments with its interesting structure and overall good vibe. We also have "When The World Explodes", that might be considered as a metal core song, but it is well made, and the opera singer Emilia Feldt does a nice job putting her touch to the song. In my opinion, "When The Worlds Explodes" is the only song in "Siren Charms" that is both innovatory and good. I also find "In Plain View" pretty satisfying.

For those of you who in the last minute hoped for the band to return to their death metal roots, there is nothing for you in "Siren Charms" that you will have any interest in. And for those of you who liked the last couple of albums that In Flames has put out, you should also enter with caution. Because even if "Siren Charms" is a logical follow up to "Sounds of A Playground Fading", it just reeks of bad decision making. Too much electronics and an overall stale production and song writing makes "Siren Charms" unpleasant. Therefore I think the name is pretty fitting. It lures you in, making you think that you will reach some sort of paradise, only to eventually stab you in the back.

Songs worthy of recognition: When The World Explodes, In Plain View, Everything's Gone

Rating: 4/10 Dead Eyes

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