Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Flames - Siren Charms

Oh boy...

Like many In Flames fans, I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the band's more recent output. I actually came to know the band initially through Come Clarity  and worked backwards from there, so unlike some of their more old-school fans, I don't write off everything they released after 2000. I must say, though, that I do vastly prefer their older material. Additionally, I'm a firm believer that what little still existed of the band's core spirit walked out the door with Jesper Strömblad.

Now, I'd like to make it clear that I really want to like their new material. I have no problem with a band evolving over time, and I dont begrudge the current lineup their success. Some of you may recall that I actually had some positive things to say about their last release, though in retrospect that was mostly a product of the preview tracks I'd heard pushing the bar so low that I wound up being pleasantly surprised on my first full listen.

No such luck this time around. It would be easy to say that this is their new sound, so you know what to expect going in, and that's partly true. I'm willing to accept that Whoracle  isn't going to happen again: that's just not who the band are anymore, and that's fine. But even if I treat modern In Flames as a whole new band to be judged by a separate standard, this would still be the worst album they've ever released. At best, it's bland but basically tolerable. At its worst, it's so whiney and grating that I found myself actively hating several songs.

I could write an exhaustive essay on all the failings of this record and what I think the reasons are that the band has been reduced to producing this dreck, but in the end I just don't have the heart to extensively tear into a band that has given me so much listening pleasure for so many years. Instead I'm going to be happy for their success, wish them well on their journey, and go listen to something else.

Grade: D

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