In Flames - _Come Clarity_
(Nuclear Blast, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
Okay, so I'm not the biggest fan of melodic metal, melo-death or whatever else you want to call it. I also don't especially like people who use the word "obviously" more than once in a five minute conversation, but that's beside the point. The fact is that In Flames' last record -- as much as it was a blatant overture into more commercially warm waters -- worked because for the first time since as far back as _Whoracle_ the band were giving their tried and heavily tested formula a significant tweak. Here was clearly an act that had come to the point in their career where they had the creative leeway to cast a decisively different slant on an existing blueprint, and possessed the confidence to pull it off (mostly) without a hitch.Of course, as we now know, the response to the record was nothing if not astonishingly positive. Suddenly every Joe Blow with a guitar was aping the band's blend of death metal and old-school twin-guitar melodies, and as a guaranteed touring draw, In Flames would be the hot ticket of the next two years. With so much positive momentum behind them, you'd think therefore that the band would have more than enough to motivate them to take their musical progression even further. Indeed, early reports as to the direction that the fruits of their ninth full-length studio session had pointed to a heavier and even more inventive effort.Yet the reality is that at its core, _Come Clarity_ -- for better or worse -- is just another In Flames record; an innoxious exercise that takes several creative steps back musically, and in doing so, hardly succeeds in replacing any of the brute force or aggression that the band were able to exude in their early years. While opener "Take This Life" initially makes a case to argue this, it's all but written in stone when the arena-friendly chorus hits; as songwriters, In Flames have evolved far beyond the point where they should be reminiscing over past glories. The ensuing disappointment rarely dissipates as the album progresses, and even the introduction of Swedish pop starlet Lisa Miskovsky can't make one shake the feeling that you've already heard In Flames covering the majority of musical ground that's regurgitated on "Dead End".Even so, _Come Clarity_ isn't without its moments. The densely layered "Leeches" is as enjoyable and undeniably catchy as anything the band has produced. And let's be honest: for most, In Flames -- even In Flames by-the-numbers -- is probably still the greatest thing since sliced bread. That they're capable of infinitely better things, however, is undeniable.
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