IN FLAMES – Siren Charms
Let’s face it- those who discovered this Swedish band when they were the leaders of the melodic death metal movement on "The Jester Race", "Whoracle", on through to "Clayman" records are none too pleased with their alternative/ groove metal direction they’ve maintained for a solid 12 years since 2002’s "Reroute to Remain" effort. If you check out interviews online, the main members know that maturity and experience means that every In Flames album has to be a little different than the previous one – because to repeat oneself means stagnation.
We are at the 11th studio album for In Flames, and "Siren Charms" is not as much of a step back as it is a step sideways into the alternative / nu-metal style groove metal they’ve been pushing for quite a while. Exit high pitch guitar harmonies, occasional use of acoustic guitars, and caustic vocals – enter eerie delivery choices from vocalist Anders Fridén, pulsating keyboard echoes, and a wall of guitars that chugs on those down tune grooves that Korn and Killswitch Engage live for. The open drum snare sound and general rhythmic pulse from Daniel Svensson is the only saving grace for these 11 songs. The hooks are painful to take, the melodies virtually non-existent, and even if they are there they are often a poor man’s Bono from U2 (check out "Paralyzed").
Where do I begin to shed tears? Should it be the slithering "Through Oblivion", the semi-DJ-ent meets low whispering/ Marilyn Manson-like vocals for "Rusted Nail", or the "St. Anger"-oriented "Monsters in the Ballroom"? There are faint glimpses of past glory- the title track probably being the best chance at appeasing the old guard – but I feel that In Flames best creative days are far behind them. When you are a headliner worldwide, you have to please yourselves first and hope that the audience will take that same journey with you.
I cannot be one of those journeyman anymore. At least I have the first five studio albums to treasure.