Artist: In Flames
Release Date: November 11th, 2016
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
In Flames is a delicate matter. You cannot simply say they are a mediocre modern band and be done with it as they are one of the pioneers of Swedish death metal. They have such monumental releases like Whoracle, The Jester Race, Colony, and Clayman. However, they morphed from being a trend creator to a trend follower in 2000s and 2010s.
Battles is arguably one of the band’s worst efforts. Sad to say, I know, but that is the case. I am not sure why the band chose to follow this road in their career, switching to North American influenced, multi-effect synthesizer based, easy to follow snack metal. Perhaps because of the urge to follow the market trends or simply because albums no longer mean much these days for touring bands who make the majority of their income from ticket sales and merchandise. In any case, the transformation is sad.
Battles offers repetitive, bland, boring songs with a soft sound. Add the ultra-effect coated vocals of Anders Fridén on that list and voila! You have a generic new-era In Flames release. With member changes in their hands (Peter Iwers being the latest), things look somewhat destabilized.
Now, for some, this change in musical direction was welcomed. Not for me, sorry. In Flames, in my humble opinion, could not come up with another Jester Script Transfigured or Embody the Invisible. Even when they first tried to blend accessible ideas with their roots, they were far better. Songs like Only for the Weak, Suburban Me or Bullet Ride are good examples.
There is in my opinion only one promising song and that is “The End”. It features the old In Flames touch, perfect chorus and guitar parts and solid lyrics. Perhaps the band can also take a message from their own lyrics or perhaps these lines were a message for themselves: “When we were young, was this the dream we had? We’re celebrating nothing. We need to find our way back.”
I am a huge fan of Anders Fridén’s voice and I really enjoyed following In Flames. Heck, when I was 18, me and my friends went to a local t-shirt shop to print our own Tokyo Showdown t-shirts. It was impossible to find merchandise here in Turkey back then. You know, Middle-Eastern problems. However, a few good chorus melodies and a few classic intro riffs are nowhere near enough to salvage Battles.
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – lead guitar
Niclas Engelin – rhythm guitar
Joe Rickard – drums