Hard-edged Modern Rock that feeds off the band's Metal and Death Metal past.
Gothenburg's In Flames have been part of the Metal scene for over twenty-five years since forming. They have been on the road with high-profile acts, such as Metallica and Judas Priest, and have toured constantly as headliners in their own right. They have influenced many and are constantly pushing their own signature sound. 'Battles' is their twelfth release and sees a number of changes to that sound, most notably in working with producer Howard Benson. This has resulted in the most commercial IF album to date, one accessible to those of a nervous disposition who have approached the Swedes with caution in the past. It is essentially hard-edged Modern Rock that feeds off the band's Metal and Death Metal past.
Benson has been responsible for dialling down the aggressive elements and making Anders Fridén (vocals), Björn Gelotte (guitar), Peter Iwers (guitar) and Niclas Engelin (bass) focus on writing the best material they could. The songs on 'Battles' have a variety of tempos, subtle time changes, and, most importantly, melodies and hooks that impact and resonate. There are still passages of harsh vocals, with 'Through My Eyes' and 'Save Me' being the most menacing, but Fridén's trademark delivery seems much more controlled and Death is now sitting right at the back of the room in slippers, sipping a hot chocolate.
The layered backing vocals add to the commercial feel and give each chorus more prominence, there are also some great guitar solos to still keep things Metal. Bruising riffs and double-kick drums feature heavily throughout, but the arrangements allow the keyboard-enhanced melodic elements to shine. 'Here Until Forever' is the closest thing to a ballad, though its intensity belies its underlying lyrical themes, whilst 'Wallflower' clocks in at just over seven minutes and runs the gamut of riff-laden emotions and reined in power.
Existing In Flames fans will still find much to enjoy, without feeling the band has sold out, and anyone who listens to the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Sevendust, Killswitch Engage or Soilwork will want to pick this up immediately.