Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Album Review: In Flames - 'Battles'

Anyone who follows heavy music will be familiar with 'scenes'...and one that's firmly been embedded in metal's culture and heritage is the Gothenburg scene. Yes this area of Sweden has produced some of the finest alternative metal artists to bless and/or blast our ear drums over the past twenty years or so, such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, but one of the biggest and consistent acts to come out of it all is In Flames. Still going strong in 2016 we find them releasing their twelfth studio album; "Battles"...after the somewhat disappointingly tepid "Siren Charms", are In Flames fired up for this one? Let's get stuck in...


We Open up with "Drained" and really I hope this isn't a literal message from the band because if they can't be arsed from the get-go then this isn't going to go very well...luckily however, after an almost despairing intro with vocalist Anders Fridén declaring "what we had we threw away"...we're greeted with the bands familiar riff-work and core guitar sound that we've all come to recognise. It's got some crunch, but for the most part this is very easy on the ears, it's rich in melody, the guitar solo is slick and over all it's so very, smooth...

The same can be said about "The End", and while Anders' voice has it's trademark distinctive snarl, there is a lot of emphasis on his clean vocals this time around and there's even use of a choir dotted throughout the chorus here and in other tracks too and, here it becomes pretty clear that, we're not going to be getting the frenetic bludgeoning In Flames of old...album highlight "The Truth" is an incredibly catchy track; utilising synthesizers to great effect, blending subtle electronic elements effortlessly with their alternative metal sound. "Before I Fall", despite being a pleasant listen generally, sounds so...casual, while the title track in just short of three minutes, manages to sound as threatening as a bowl of jelly. Battles? A pillow fight perhaps...before the seven-minute "Wallflower" takes you on a decidedly mellow journey towards the end of the album.

First of all, don't get the wrong idea; "Battles" isn't a bad album by any means, there are some good songs on offer here, but this is where it may turn heads, or at least tilt heads in confusion...as this album, for want of a better description is a very well produced pop-record...it sounds incredibly polished and there is such little aggression here, old fans may be left feeling disappointed, but, it is a very accessible album and more importantly a very easy listen. In many ways its reminiscent in principle of Korn's "See You On The Other Side" which was produced by the studio team behind Shakira and Britney Spears...and you take from that what you will... [7]


Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club