The twelfth full-length studio album by legendary Swedish Alternative Metal band.
When a band changes their style and sound, it can be polarizing. Melodic Death Metal pioneers In Flames have experienced this with their fans, as their sound has grown more accessible over the years with fewer growling vocals.
Their countrymen and contemporaries Opeth have drawn similar criticism, but their switch from Death Metal to Prog seems to have been more easily accepted than In Flames’ evolution toward the mainstream. In Flames’ latest effort, "Battles", has plenty of melody, but there are numerous intense moments, as well.
"Battles" is the first In Flames album recorded without drummer Daniel Svensson since 1997‘s "Whoracle". The band traveled to Los Angeles to record with producer Howard Benson (Halestorm, Skillet, Papa Roach). Benson recommended using drummer Joe Rickard (from Red) for the album, and he ended up joining the band permanently.
It was a fruitful collaboration, resulting in one of In Flames’ strongest albums in years.
From the opening track “Drained”, it’s evident that this is an album packed with both sing-along choruses and harsher vocals from Friden. The songs were written by Friden and guitarist Bjorn Gelotte, who along with Niclas Engelin, provides a plethora of memorable riffs. That’s exemplified on songs like the anthemic "The Truth”. They also deliver first class riffage and a tasty solo on “Before I Fall”.
Friden also gives an excellent performance. His harsh vocals are spot on, and his melodic singing is solid. He still has a bit of a singsong delivery in places, but also sings in a straightforward style, and when he does shows surprising power, like on the album closer “Save Me”.
Some of the heavier songs are on the album’s back half, including the title track and “Under My Skin”. Those are nicely contrasted by the disc’s longest song, the seven-minute “Wallflower”. It’s dynamic and diverse with an Industrial vibe in spots.
Their Gothenburg sound is long gone, but those who appreciate In Flames’ recent output should enjoy "Battles". It’s heavier than 2014‘s "Siren Charms", but even more melodic with better songwriting!
Limited edition to 500 copies clear vinyl in gatefold cover includes two bonus tracks.
Nuclear Blast Records, 2016 (NB 3773-1). Made in EU.
2. The End
3. Like Sand
4. The Truth
5. In My Room
6. Before I Fall
7. Through My Eyes
9. Here Until Forever
1. Underneath My Skin
3. Save Me
Side D (Bonus)
4. Greatest Greed
5. Us Against The World
Total playing time: 55:26 min.