Album Review – In Flames / Siren Charms (2014)

A mediocre album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal giants, possibly the worst they will ever release in their career.

Rating8

in flames_siren charmsWhat’s happening with the most prominent Melodic Death Metal bands from Sweden in 2014? After the just average new album by Arch Enemy, it’s time for Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons In Flames to release what’s probably their weakest album of all time, the pedestrian Siren Charms, their eleventh studio album and also an unfortunate stain on their remarkable career.

Before fans come cursing me or anything like that, let me say I’m not asking for a new The Jester Race (1996) or Clayman (2000). Quite the contrary, I’m an advocate of bands that evolve during their careers, or even some that completely change their music style. I even like their previous album, the controversial Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011), and didn’t find any issues in the music by In Flames without founding guitarist Jesper Strömblad. However, in my opinion, there’s an invisible boundary for what a band can or cannot do with their music, and that’s something called INSPIRATION, which is pretty much inexistent in Siren Charms.

The opening track, In Plain View, can be considered a very good summary of the whole album: weird vocals by Anders Fridén, more noise than melody (or maybe just noise and no melody at all), and where are those good old characteristic riffs they became famous for? Although slightly heavier than the previous track and despite its interesting intro, Everything’s Gone becomes something so uninspired after a while and all instruments sound so sloppy together it’s really hard not to quickly skip to the next track; and if you do that, Paralyzed makes things even worse, with all its electronic elements being totally disposable. Once again, what happened to Anders’ voice?

Through Oblivion is another terrible song where you can barely listen to the guitars, sounding like some garbage not even Korn is capable of recording, while With Eyes Wide Open, despite being a lot more melodic, is not the musicality we were all expecting from this band. And don’t think the title-track will do any good for the album, as Siren Charms is another disappointment with nothing outstanding in it, especially its really weak vocal lines. Fortunately, When the World Explodes sounds like Anders finally woke up and decided to scream properly. It’s the closest we get to what In Flames do best (and the best song of the album by far), with highlights to its much better riffs and the awesome female vocals by Swedish soprano Emilia Feldt.

in flamesThe lead single chosen by the band, Rusted Nail, is just average (not to say it has lots of horrible moments), with its guitar lines saving it from being a total disaster, followed by the slow and tiring Dead Eyes and the slightly more exciting Monsters in the Ballroom, showcasing the best clean vocals of the entire album and an interesting guitar solo. And to end this disaster in a “St. Anger” style, we have more of the same tasteless musicality in Filtered Truth, which sounds like a demo version of something most bands would throw away without thinking twice. And I’m glad I just got the simplest version of the album with no bonus tracks, because it was an arduous job to listen to this album in its entirety (more than once, by the way).

In Flames will forever kick ass live, but I’m a little concerned about what their concerts will become in a near future. I mean, who will enjoy watching them playing most of the songs, if any, from Siren Charms, when they have so many amazing classics in their previous albums? Have they reached that unwanted stage of their career where they will just release new albums for money, no matter how bad they sound, as long as they keep headlining tours and festivals and fans keep paying to see them live anyway? I really hope not, so let’s just consider Siren Charms a lapse in their creative process, completely forget about it, and wait for their following releases.

Best moments of the album: When the World Explodes.

Worst moments of the album: Paralyzed, Through Oblivion, Siren Charms and Dead Eyes.

Released in 2014 Sony Music

Track listing
1. In Plain View 4:05
2. Everything’s Gone 3:24
3. Paralyzed 4:15
4. Through Oblivion 3:37
5. With Eyes Wide Open 3:58
6. Siren Charms 3:05
7. When the World Explodes 4:39
8. Rusted Nail 4:55
9. Dead Eyes 5:23
10. Monsters in the Ballroom 3:53
11. Filtered Truth 3:31

Band members
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Niclas Engelin – guitar
Peter Iwers – bass
Daniel Svensson – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Emilia Feldt – guest vocals on “When the World Explodes”
German Jesterheads (In Flames fans) – guest vocals on “Rusted Nail”

 

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