REVIEW: IN FLAMES – “Foregone”
Swedish Melodic Death Metal legends IN FLAMES are back with their 14th full-length album entitled ‘’Foregone’’! The Gothenburg pioneers have been at it since 1990 and are one of the more uncompromising bands of the genre. According to Bjorn Gelotte and Anders Friden, they don’t really care much about criticism about their albums and do what they want. They like to mix the older Melodic Death Metal sound with their present sound and have never released the same album twice. I appreciate their candor and what they have brought to the genre since 1990 but this band has been hit or miss in the last decade and a half.
I haven’t appreciated nor enjoyed an IN FLAMES album since 2011’s ‘’Sounds of a Playground Fading’’. After that, I was disappointed time and time again with their material, especially ‘’Battles’’ which was quite boring, to say the least. You have good songs here and there but no album is worth more than one listening session. You listen to it, you put it back in the drawer and I hate that feeling after listening to an album. I did hear good things about 2019’s ‘’I, The Mask’’ and it was a step in the right direction, let’s see what this holds for the longtime fan in me.
I think the band lost its way when founder Jesper Stromblad left the band back in 2010. They were continuously releasing great albums and were the throne-bearers of the genre. He was the heart and soul of the band and the sound of the band drastically changed after. They still try to reinvent themselves while adding their unique melodic death metal style so that’s probably why I was so apprehensive concerning the last few albums.
IN FLAMES did a fantastic job marketing the new album with the release of 4 official music videos and one lyric video. It gave the listener a chance to grasp the new sound and the new album. It’s a great way to re-introduce themselves after 4 years and maybe make sure the new fans can discover the band.
THE HALO EFFECT lit a fire under the band because those former IN FLAMES members tore the house down with their 2022 masterpiece ‘’Days of the Lost’’. I don’t know if the band got caught off-guard by them or if it gave them the necessary kick in the pants to get something done, something that was memorable. Well, they achieved part of it, yet I still don’t know if they were influenced by them or if they just didn’t care at all. Like I said beforehand, they obviously are content with not doing the same album twice and criticism does not seem to be important for them. They respect themselves enough to trust the process, trust where the album or the sound is going.
I started off with the first single off this new opus, ‘’Meet Your Maker’’, it’s the traditional IN FLAMES sound that I got hooked upon back in the late nineties. What I was quite surprised by is Anders Friden’s clean vocals, he has worked diligently to clear up his voice, and everything seems more genuine, and less mechanical with fewer effects in them. The lyrical theme speaks of sowing the seeds in life and reaping what you sow, the end of the masquerade as they say. I enjoyed those lyrics, they are well-written and it’s always been something they have been awfully good at.
‘’State of Slow Decay’’ definitely brings much more aggression than I have heard of the band in a long time. Speaking about the world crumbling down, and the decaying of humankind as we destroy this wonderful planet. The shadows are taking over and we are oblivious to the fact that we get taken advantage of everywhere we go, in everything we do. ‘’Destroy the things you know / Destroy Yourself in Shame’’, it’s realizing you are dying inside and outside, you have one life to live, and that even in greatness, there is loss. You can receive all the love in the world and still be surrounded by pain inside, a burden we have deep, that we face day in and day out.
On ‘’The Great Deceiver’’, the band channels their inner Thrash Metal band. It has some elements from the genesis of the genre and I felt it was a great departure from their signature sound. I felt it was much needed and it felt like something new. I enjoyed hell out of the song, it was quick and aggressive, they do not pull punches on this one and this might be my favorite track off this new album.
The rest of the album is as solid as the first few singles. They do not reinvent the wheel but they make sure to keep the listener entertained and there is nothing too slow and drawn like in the past. It’s a full-fledged assault on the senses and the album is well designed yet I don’t know why both parts of Foregone are back to back, I probably would have put them at different places on the album but anyways.
They accentuate the technical side of things and do not too much on technology. At times they relied way too much on effects in Anders Friden’s voice and it feels much more organic. It feels like the first few albums, nothing too complicated but the energy is put in the right place. The songs and lyrics are one cohesive unit. They always have been great lyricists but they push themselves to be even better and this album reflects a much more mature approach.
I think the addition in 2022 of the highly underrated Chris Broderick, formerly of MEGADETH and JAG PANZER shaped the sound of the album itself. He is one of the very best guitar players out there, but nobody talks about him that much honestly. I would put him next to Jeff Loomis as the most underrated guitarist in Metal and he does a fine job on this album. He brings fresh energy and maybe a new mindset to the band and he is a solid veteran. He gives IN FLAMES a much-needed boost, similar to what Loomis brought when he first joined ARCH ENEMY back in 2014. Sometimes you just need that little spark.
I really do feel the band is much more motivated than ever before. In Flames seems to be clicking on all cylinders and there are no weak points on ‘Foregone’ compared to the previous decade full of albums. Maybe they felt they had something to prove or being such independent thinkers about what they bring to the table, they may have gotten to the next level as a band. As much as I enjoyed the aforementioned ‘’Sounds of a Playground Fading’’, this might be the most complete album since ‘’Come Clarity’’, a mix of great melodies yet with an aggressiveness we have not seen from the band in quite a while. They came in proving a point, proving that they still have it factor and I am glad to rediscover and fall in love with the band once again after some heartbreak, there is solace in hope and In the future.
“I would put him next to Jeff Loomis” Well… Chris Broderick was in Nevermore for a short while. Can’t wait for the album!