Well, here it is – the new album from In Flames. You all know who they are, so screw the history lesson. I will say however, that my path down the road of underground metal was changed drastically when I first heard 1999’s Colony, and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. This whole Gothenburg thing was new to me, and I loved it. Needless to say, I have enjoyed all their releases to date, with the previous three taking high honors on my personal top ten lists. I dare say however that Soundtrack to Your Escape is in ways unlike any In Flames album you’ve heard before.
Having forsaken amazing blitzkrieg riffage in favor of stronger melodies and song structures, particularly on 2002’s Reroute to Remain, the band has little elsewhere to go. So what do they do? They darken it up. Not in a tr00 kVlt kind of way, and not in a doom kind of way. It’s just moodier and less uptempo.
I may as well start with the much ballyhooed single “The Quiet Place”. Yes, it is mellow. Yes, it is more accessible than most anything we’ve ever heard from In Flames. Does that make it bad? Not in the slightest. In fact, that’s basically the jist of the song, an attack at their detractors who cry that every album after The Jester Race has been more of a sellout than the one before. The band could care less what you think, and neither could I.
That being said, lets look at some other tracks here. The majority of the first half of the disc is comprised of this moodier material I spoke of (minus the ripping “Dead Alone”). From opener “F(r)iend”, to “Touch of Red” and “My Sweet Shadow”, these songs sound like the bastard child of In Flames and Sisters of Mercy. Not necessarily catchy, but headbobbing worthy. It’s back to business as usual when “In Search for I” kicks in, sounding like it could be an outtake from 2000’s Clayman. “Superhero of the Computer Age” and “Dial 595-Escape” (possibly my favorite song here) follow suit, and remind me of why I like In Flames so much.
So, to sum up: About half “standard” In Flames material, about half this new darker In Flames. Since I’m supposed to give an opinion here, lets see what I can do. As much as I love this band, I’m just having trouble getting into the darker stuff here. I’ve listened to this album a few times now and the only song that sticks in my head is “The Quiet Place”, for whatever reason. However, I think it has the potential to grow on me over time. The heavier songs are solid and more readily appealing. If you’re looking for a recommendation, all I can say is, if you liked the last two In Flames albums, you’ll like this new one; if not, you won’t. If you want a less wishy-washy opinion, talk to me in a month.