In Flames - A Sense of Purpose
Release Date: April 4, 2008
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
I was very cautious when checking out In Flames' ninth studio album, A Sense of Purpose. The main thing I was hoping coming into this album was that it wouldn’t be another Come Clarity where they attempt to sound like the old In Flames and end up falling flat on their faces. A Sense of Purpose is nearly the opposite of that with the band sounding like they did on Reroute To Remain, only with some traces of progression on here. There’s the fast, aggressive songs with ear-grabbing choruses that I love like “The Mirror’s Truth” and “A March To The Shore”; there’s a couple of slower ballads like “Alias,” and possibly the progressive rock sounding “The Chosen Pessimist.” A Sense of Purpose's diversity is what I liked about the album the most. In Flames showed they weren’t afraid to experiment here and take their new steps up a few notches. The results were a bit mixed, but when they shined, they really stood out.
Like I expected, one of the album’s weak points is in the lyrical department, the most notable being the chorus of “Disconnected” which ends with the line, “I feel like shit / but at least I feel something,” and “Please heel me / I can’t sleep / I thought I was unbreakable / but this is killing me,” from “Delight and Angers.” Thankfully, I mostly listen to In Flames for their fantastic guitar melodies and there are plenty of those on A Sense of Purpose. Next to its diversity, Jesper Stromblad and Bjorn Geolette’s guitar work is the strongest point of this album. Their melodies and solos are one thing that hasn’t changed and they make even the weakest songs on this album sound a bit catchy.
Opening the album is “The Mirror’s Truth” which is one of the faster tracks that has an excellent chorus and a catchy melody. “Disconnected” also has some great melodies, but its lyrics nearly ruin it. “Sleepless Again” and “Alias” are two of the slower tracks, the former having a very nice acoustic intro and the latter having some cool synth effects. The next three tracks are decent, but nothing special, although “Move Through Me” contains a few nice guitar licks. “The Chosen Pessimist” comes next ad as I said earlier, it’s different than any In Flames song you’ve ever heard before. It clocks in at over eight minutes and starts off with a lengthy build-up which creates a great vibe for the rest of the song. As soon as vocalist Anders Friden's poor singing kicked in, I was a bit iffy about the rest of the song since he doesn’t have the world’s best singing voice, but it grew on me after a couple more listens. This may sound nothing like In Flames at all, but it’s a standout on this album for sure. It is followed by “Sober and Irrelavent,” another poor track. It isn’t a bad song, but there is nothing really noteworthy in it. Two out of the last three tracks are some of the bests on the album. “Condemed” carries a great anthem-like vibe in the chorus and “March To The Shore” is nearly impossible to not sing along to, and it carries some interesting guitar progressions near the end.
Will the old fans hate this? Most likely. Are the best days of In Flames gone? Yes. Does that mean they can’t make a quality release? Not at all. A Sense of Purpose is a step in the right direction for sure. In Flames managed to pull themselves out of the hole they put themselves into with their last two albums and are ready to progress onward musically. This album was a nice surprise for me this year, as I thought it was going to be a huge stinker, but I ended up liking it quite a bit. Of course, I miss their classic sound but as long as the band keeps making solid albums like this, I’ll be happy. A Sense of Purpose isn’t the band's best work and it’s not par with The Jester’s Race, Clayman or Colony but as far as new In Flames goes, it’s great.