In Flames
Siren Charms

01. In Plain View
02. Everything’s Gone
03. Paralyzed
04. Through Oblivion
05. With Eyes Wide Open
06. Siren Charms
07. When The World Explodes
08. Rusted Nail
09. Dead Eyes
10. Monsters In The Ballroom
11. Filtered Truth

Anders Fridén (vocals)
Björn Gelotte (guitar)
Niclas Engelin (guitar)
Peter Iwers (bass)
Daniel Svensson (drums, percussion)

FLunar Strain (1994)
The Jester Race (1996)
Whoracle (1997)
Colony (1999)
Clayman (2000)
Reroute to Remain (2002)
Soundtrack to Your Escape (2004)
Come Clarity (2006)
A Sense of Purpose (2008)
Sounds of A Playground Fading (2011)

Emilia Feldt (vocals on 7)
German Jesterheads (vocals on 8)

Produced by Daniel Bergstrand, Roberto Laghi and In Flames
recorded at Hansa Tonstudios in Berlin, Germany
The cover artwork was created by Blake Armstrong of Space Boy Comics

Released 2014-09-05
Reviewed 2014-09-05


Sellout. Pathetic. Not In Flames. An insult… what haven't In Flames been told for the fact that they haven't done the same album over and over? It's been going on for long enough now and become more than ridicules by now. Because regardless of your opinion about the music In Flames been doing for the past dozen years it's still their choice to play whatever kind of music they want and it's pathetic that you still have to tell some people this. Like it or not - it's not your choice. Your choice is wether you want to be on the train or not and if you don't - let the people on it have their journey without your sour comments. There are plenty of bands that sounds like In Flames did in the beginning and you can always have fun with those - but it's In Flames own choice not to do that on their eleventh album and as a reviewer I love bands that evolve, so here here!

Evolve… well, that's a difficult word actually. Because when is it evolving and when is it just changing? Evolving does, after all, mean that you're progressing and becoming something better while moving forward from where you were. Changing does, however, not automatically mean progress. You can change in to something worse but evolving is always some sort of improvement. In the case of In Flames, they've mostly evolved up until this album - at least in my world. They've improved the production side with better sound quality, stronger sound, better variation, more hit-feel and stronger songs. With 'Siren Charms', though, I think the music has changed more than with any prior release by the band (perhaps 'Reroute To Remain' is in the same league) and the songs here are noticeable different compared to 'Sounds Of A Playground Fading' and the albums before that.

'Siren Charms' has left plenty of the growling at home and instead we hear a very experimental form of vocals by Anders Fridén. We hear him sing with his winy clean vocals a lot more, or as a reviewer here in Sweden wrote "Or clean and clean, and for that reason; sing and sing". Clearly he has a point, Fridén doesn't really make the opera singers envy him and his "clear" vocals can sometimes be as winy as a hungry baby or hiss like a whisper and sometimes even be really articulated and nice. And then there's the growling of course. They are not as common as before but they're still very much there. And I think it's getting very common with albums like this, where they have a vocalist doing the entire vocal range from top to bottom. Often these vocalist make a pretty poor impression, due to the fact that these vocalist can't tell how they should use their voice at any given moment. In the case of Fridén, though, he clearly knows when and where he should go either high or low and his timing is superb.

The music has changed a lot too. Not all of it, 'Siren Charms' is to some extent just business as usual, but much of it is also different. I'd like to say that the changes are good - at least most of them - but because they've improved on a technical level doesn't mean they've done so esthetically and hearing a few of the tracks here does make you wonder. Then there's the electronics. It's something that has taken a more and more central part of In Flames music lately and honestly, if they continue like this with all the sound effects, keyboards and other sampled electronics they should seriously think about getting a full time member doing samplings and synths. However, the best element on the album - from an instrumental perspective - is when they're actually give the electronics a rest and let the bass do its magic on its own, or the guitars take it away with a solo. You might think that I don't like the electronics and the new technical improvements after saying that, but really I do.

Clearly In Flames has taken a sidestep with 'Siren Charms', but it's a step that taken them on an alternative route and there seems to be a lot of good things happening on that route. The choruses on tracks like WIth Eyes Wide Open, Rusted Nail and Filtered Truth are absolutely amazing and could become hit singles any day in the week - if they want to. And the fact that Fridén has reduced his growling is another reason why they could succeed, just like how only a few of these eleven tracks has that real metalcore groove. And this is of course both good and bad. We get some heavy tracks as well, like Everything Is Gone and Monsters In The Ballroom, but most of the album feels like a light version of In Flames with new ideas that works just as well as the old ones did - at least most of the time. This is definitely a sidestep, but it is a good sidestep. It's not a route that works as well as 'Sounds Of A Playgorund Fading' (I'm apparently not the only one with that opinion) but it's still a treat to hear In Flames being "soft" too! I hope they continue taking alternative roads - hopefully a few heavier ones too - because magic seems to happen when they do! The only bad thing is that In Flames walk these roads, but I'm not sure even they know where it will take them. And sometimes they end up in a pretty doubtful, not to say confusing territory that I'm sure not even they knew they were going.




Label: Razzia/Sony
Three similar bands: Malrun/Scorngrain/Dark Tranquillity
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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