After the musical brilliance and Swedish might of IN FLAMES' "Colony" and "Clayman", it would have been damn near impossible for future albums to measure up. Initially unsure of "Reroute to Remain", the infinitely more melodic follow-up to "Clayman" ultimately hooked me and I ended up enjoying it immensely. But "Soundtrack to Your Escape" lost me. Perhaps a bit unfairly, after a couple of listens to the modernized, effects-laden follow-up, I put it on the shelf and basically ignored the band thereafter. Upon revisiting it, I find that it isn't nearly as bad as I first thought, but a longing for the "Clayman" era probably unduly influenced my distaste for it.At first skeptical of the advance CD of "Come Clarity", it took me one listen to become a believer again. This may not be a true return to form, but it unequivocally succeeds in taking the aggressive, twin-guitar bliss and up-tempo aggressiveness of the classic works and retaining the catchy, broader appeal melodies of recent albums to make it a damn fine IN FLAMES recording. Programmed effects are still utilized, but to a much lesser degree and only for accent purposes. The rejuvenated sound of the new effort is apparent right from the start, as album-opener and first single "Take This Life" speeds forth with a crushing rhythm section, precision harmonies, and memorable chorus. And it doesn't stop there. With a few minor exceptions, "Come Clarity" is a near perfect combination of speed-kill ferocity and infectious melody. Only the most jaded (and delusional) fan could lucidly argue that songs like "Vacuum" and "Versus Terminus" do not match the aggression and intensity of the group's heavier material. The only difference is songwriting maturity and an impeccable sense of melody. The combination of deep hook and cutting guitar interplay on "Crawl Through Knives" is one of the album's many highlights. That the band so deftly marries vintage IF song-structure with the angelic voice of Swedish pop sensation Lisa Miskovsky on "Dead End" says so much about the band's creativity. Had I not heard it with my own two ears I would never have guessed the boys could make it work so effectively. While I'm at it, the title track is another example of first-rate songwriting. The ballad-esque cut is by far the mellowest of the collection and it too is stunning. The entrancing tune features beautiful acoustic guitars, a soaring melodic lead, and melancholic chorus. Simply put, "Come Clarity" is packed with ass-kicking, catchy tunes. If you believe that IN FLAMES ended its metallic relevancy after "Clayman", then I'm not sure "Come Clarify" will convince you otherwise. It should come close to changing your mind though. Let's face it, the band does not make the same album twice. Regardless of comparisons to past glories, "Come Clarity" is an excellent album.
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