IN FLAMES is now at that the point where they painted themselves into a corner. They are still a heavy band, but want to go in a more commercial direction and gain more fans. The band has really changed directions since “Colony.” Now, a lot of people gave the band hell for “Reroute To Remain.” I must admit and to the bands defence, it wasn't all that bad. It wasn't their best, but I wouldn't have crucified them like so many of you all did.
“F(r)iend” kicks into high gear with the quickness with the thunderous drumming of Daniel and the killer twin guitar work from both Bjorn and Jesper. Anders vokills are rough and rugged as well. The traditional trademark sound of the band is well in tact. Now, we get to “The Quiet Place”, which is really commercial and I will bet you any money, in fact, I will bet the farm that the band tried to shop this song to the major labels before resigning with Nuclear Blast. The track is more melodic and Anders vocals are much cleaner here. The beats are a lot catchier, but you can tell that the band really wanted to hit the radio airwaves with this one. It's an ok tune, but the hardcore fans are really going to disagree with my verdict. I know the fans want the band to create another “Jesters Race” or “Whoracle”, but it's never going to happen again. Those albums are very special and can't be recreated. The band must move on and try new things while trying to retain their sound that has made them such a success with the underground fan base.
The guys redeem themselves with the hard-hitting “Dead Alone” that has a lot of tricky drumming and more infectious riffs. Things get really mixed up with “Touch Of Red.” More hard and heavy playing with gruffy vocals, but the chorus' are really clean and have more of a commercial feel once again. Is it heavy or commercial? You decide! As if “Touch Of Red” wasn't confusing enough, the band takes “My Sweet Shadow” to another level. It's heavy, melodic, the staccato riffs give it that Nu-Metal vibe, it has a commercial feel to it and there is an electronic atmosphere. It's a very intriguing track once you hear it. Oh boy, I can feel the hate mail clogging up IN FLAMES' message board and email with “Evil In A Closet.” This is a ballad that goes from soft to having more of an edge toward the middle and end of the song. This song is weird. It's something out of left field and doesn't belong on the CD. This track sticks out like a sore thumb.
The songs flip flop for the first half of the disc going from heavy to commercial. Things sort of get back on track to the way the band once used to be until we get to “Bottled”, which is another attempt at going commercial while trying to remain the same band that they once were. Let's face it; IN FLAMES will continue to experiment with new sounds until they find a new formula that will stick like the olden days. This band is desperately trying to gain a newer audience while trying to make the old fans happy which isn't too likely. In order to gain new fans, you have to change the sound a bit in order to get their attention. At this point, you are either a fan of the bands or not.