In metal circles, In Flames need little introduction, if any at all. The once vaunted band was at the forefront of the "New Wave of Swedish Death Metal" invasion that produced masterpieces like Jester's Race, Whoracle, and Colony. The band has been on somewhat of a decline over the last several albums, culminating in the critically panned, ill received nu-metal influenced Soundtrack to Your Escape. Regardless of their recorded output's reception, the band continues to build a strong US fan base as well as expanding their worldwide base. This has led up to their signing with the US based Ferret (purveyors of MTV2-ready metalcore) for their latest album, Come Clarity.
Being heralded as a return to form for the band, Come Clarity blasts out of the gates with "Take This Life", the lead off single. It's fast, heavy, and hits the mark hard. Yes, the clean vocals are here, but they are nowhere near the whiny distraction that they had been previously. The keyboards add texture to the song without sapping any of the power. "Leaches" follows seamlessly with an odd keyboard part that remains on and off throughout the song. It is weird and does not make any sense in the makeup of the song - if you split this part out of the song, it would make an off the wall dance techno bit. It actually distracts from the song, which might be good otherwise. "Reflect the Storm" starts off well. I like the vocal's juxtaposition with the guitar melody as counterpoint. Anders Frieden's clean vocals seem to have become stronger and less whiny since Soundtrack to Your Escape. They actually carry a real nice melody in fact. "Dead On" turns up the speed and volume to start. It tricks the listener as the female vocals kick in out of nowhere. It works. Frieden's screams contrast nicely with the female vocals (provided by Lisa Miscovsky), which is a good thing considering how often bands fail at this type of effect. "Pacing Death's Trail" is a good song. It is heavy and has some great melodic guitar work going on, a real bright spot on Come Clarity. It is easily my favorite song on the album. It is short, sweet, and has elements of old time In Flames. "Our Infinite Struggle" also has an older In Flames feel. There are great dual guitars that pepper the song and the melody that they carry is good.
Yes, Come Clarity is a much stronger and powerful record than their previous album. There are definitely moments that hearken back to the In Flames sound of old that the older fans clamor to hear. It is also a progression for the band, which is important for them, especially after their lengthy career at this point. Ferret might actually help them a great deal in gaining new fans. It sounds like what it is, a fresh start for them on a new label.
6.8 / 10
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