In Flames - _Soundtrack to Your Escape_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
So In Flames have released a new album -- so what? As far as I'm concerned, the last decent record to bear the In Flames logo was _Whoracle_, way back in 1995. Since then the Swedes have, for all intents and purposes, repeated their increasingly tired schtick on every successive release, and in so doing have steadily grown into one of the most boring bands in extreme metal. Of course, their juggernaut-like popularity would suggest that a fair number of you don't share my opinion, but that's besides the point.

_Soundtrack to Your Escape_ is In Flames' seventh full-length outing and immediately captures the band in a more austere mood. The flashy guitar leads that have become synonymous with their sound have been all but entirely cast aside, in favour of a more subtle keyboard-led approach. Indeed, the more sombre atmosphere of _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ comes especially to the fore on the almost gothic "Dead Alone" and "Touch of Red" -- tracks that sport driving keyboard melodies and clean-sung harmonic choruses that hint at a very strong '80s pop influence.

Now why the generous score, you ask? Well, the simple reason is that _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ did what I considered unthinkable and surprised me. It may be overall slightly less heavy than _Reroute to Remain_, but it's the first time in aeons that In Flames have truly attempted any sort of experimentation, and thankfully for them, the results are very enjoyable. Of course, I'd be the first to frown at the frankly radio-tailored "Evil in the Closet", and at the same time, the infectious hooks of forthcoming single "The Quiet Place" and "Dial 595 Escape" bears undeniable appeal.

If you haven't surmised it by now, _Soundtrack to Your Escape_ is going to split fan opinion in two (possibly) very uneven segments. Whatever happens though -- kudos to In Flames for coming up with something this enjoyable at a time when many skeptics had counted them down.


(article published 29/2/2004)

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3/10/1998 A Bromley In Flames: The Flame of Ingenuity
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4/15/2008 K Sarampalis 7.5 In Flames - A Sense of Purpose
1/9/2006 J Smit 6 In Flames - Come Clarity
8/22/2005 J Smit 9 In Flames - Used & Abused: In Live We Trust DVD
9/1/2002 C Flaaten 6 In Flames - Reroute to Remain
10/19/2001 M Noll 3 In Flames - The Tokyo Showdown
8/12/2000 P Azevedo 9 In Flames - Clayman
6/15/1999 A Bromley 9.5 In Flames - Colony
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9/12/2005 A McKay Mudvayne / Shadows Fall / In Flames / Trivium Dodging a Bullet
5/13/2001 M Noll Dimmu Borgir / In Flames / Nevermore Crimes in the Mourning Palace
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