- Soundtrack To Your Escape
|Review by: Tyree|
2) The Quiet Place
3) Dead Alone
4) Touch of Red
5) Like You Better Dead
6) My Sweet Shadow
7) Evil In A Closet
8) In Search For I
9) Borders and Shading
10) Superhero of the Computer Rage
11) Dial 595-ESCAPE
It used to be fairly easy to call yourself a melodic death metal band: just sprinkle the occasional chiming keyboard and Fates Warning-esque guitar fill into your otherwise-indistinguishable cacophony and you were set. Then, in the late 90's, the bands of Gothenburg, Sweden emerged onto the scene and changed all that. Spearheading the movement were In Flames, whose workaholic recording and touring schedule ensured their brand of pleasingly-accessible-yet-catastrophically-heavy metal was heard throughout the world and whose immense skill at songwriting reminded the world of a message which had largely gotten lost during the course of the last decade: that thrash metal music can be truly beautiful.
The course of In Flames past three albums, 1998's "Colony", 00's "Clayman" and 02's "Reroute to Remain" have seen a steady evolution in the band's music with each release becoming more focused, emotional, and anthemic than the last. Therefore, it was natural for me to assume that the new release, "Soundtrack To Your Escape" would continue the musical trend. However, those expecting "Clayman" or "Reroute" Part 2, as I was, will be disappointed. Gone are the huge, shout-along choruses so prevalent on those two albums, and when they do occur, the vocal harmonies are so low in the mix they can be difficult to hear. Also absent are many of Bjorn Gellotte and Jesper Stromblad's melodic guitar fills which often accompanied the verses on earlier releases. Overall, the band seems to have aimed for less harmony and more power chord-laden thrash; a change so drastic that on my initial listen I found myself scanning the liner booklet, certain a huge line-up change had taken place.
The opening track, "F(r)iend" sets the overall pace for the album, being a ferocious, snarling beast of a song - yet not all that distinguishable from any other snarling beast of a song by any other metal band. Fortunately, its follow-up "The Quiet Place," returns to more traditional In Flames territory, showcasing vocalist Anders Frieden's impressive vocal range and use of inflection. This positive trend continues until the fifth track, "Like You Better Dead," takes a nosedive back into mindless anger. The ballad "Evil In A Closet," is a nice change of pace, shifting the album into the only thing approaching a relaxed mood. Anders does some very impressive singing here, but it veers dangerously close to whining. It's a song you'll either love or hate depending on your taste.
Overall, there are many good tracks on this album -"In Search For I" and "Borders and Shading" nicely rocket the listener back out of "Evil In A Closet"'s dreariness - but it is uneven. With the previous two albums spoiling us by making each song a memorable stand-out, it's simply impossible to settle for anything less and while the good songs here outnumber the throwaways, the listener is still left feeling slighted.
Overall, [Sorry, but you have exceeded your quota on the word 'overall'. 5-yard penalty. Repeat 1st down - ed] I would say this is an excellent album had it been recorded by one of In Flames' many imitators. But for a release by the masters of the Gothenburg genre themselves, it is sadly sub-par.
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