In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

In the last few years the bi-forked tongues of some hyper-conservative media have written In Flames off as a spent force geared for commercial purposes, which is a tremendous injustice ‘cause IN FLAMES DON’T SOUND LIKE KORN, just like I’ve read somewhere. Never did and most likely never will and the fact the Swedes can now shift a six-figures per record and get air-play on MTV only proves that a lot more people have acquired a good taste in music. So all the accusations of selling out, mellowing up or jumping to whatever bandwagon is on hype are plain nonsense and don’t apply to In Flames, a band that have been constantly progressing over the years, without betraying their Metal origins. Not to mention that have yet to write a song called “A.D.I.D.A.S.”.
Whatever opinion formulated at them, a few things are certain, their place in history is assured as one of the godfathers of a genre that is globally admired and the quality of their back-catalogue is beyond reproach.
That leads us to “A Sense of Purpose”, their ninth and latest work which displays the usual consistency of an In Flames release with top-notch songwriting and stellar musicianship. Perhaps the most notorious difference between “A Sense of Purpose” and its most recent predecessors “Come Clarity” from 2006 and “Soundtrack To Your Escape” from 2004 is the greater emphasis on melody, with the band crafting out plenty of twin guitar harmonies and even exploring the acoustic element that was present on their early works like “Lunar Strain” and “The Jesters Race”. Don’t expect a throwback to those initial steps though, this is still a band geared for the 21st century. Leadoff theme “A Mirror’s Truth” kicks in with a typical In Flames signature, strong and catchy riffs, interspersed with juicy leads, pounding and dynamic drumming and a memorable chorus with a steady and shouty vocal delivery from Anders Fridén. The following song “Disconnected” also flows in a similar fashion with plenty of guitar harmonies and nice grooves, as does “Sleepless Again” that starts with an acoustic interlude and has a delightful Maidenesque guitar solo. “Alias” is a more groove-oriented theme with catchy guitar hooks and an anthemic chorus that will certainly be a success on a live environment. “Delight and Angers” is a personal favourite, it displays a very tight, groovy riffing occasionally intertwined with great clean guitar chords and a highly addictive chorus.
“The Chosen Pessimist” and “Condemned” are also worthy of mention, while the first is the weirdest song of “A Sense of Purpose”, with the band experimenting with dark and intimate moods in a ballad-like pace, the second theme sees the band dabbling increasingly with synthesizers to add texture to a very thrashy and groovy approach.
Ignore the gibberish circulating around “A Sense of Purpose” and try to approach these songs with a different perspective other than “what they’ve achieved with their past, early releases was way better and I can’t listen to them now ‘cause their clips get played on MTV.”
It will be one of the best things you’ll experience this year and don’t thank me for that. (8/10)

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