Is it just a failure on our part to grasp the evolving essence of this Swedish phenomenon, or are IN FLAMES simply not as groundbreaking as they're made out to be? Without a doubt, around the time of their epic for the new millennium, "Clayman", they were something to behold beyond the norm — a striking marriage of old-school directness and ambient sensitivity that dared to buck the trend of going around in circles like many extreme/death metal acts of the period.But that was then and this is, like, four years down the line. Though still hailed in some quarters with reverential tones as possessing almost Einstein-esque songwriting talents, to these ears they have arguably sat in the comfort zone ever since "Clayman" hit the racks and the wider public started to take notice. As much as it might sound contradictory, however, even when they're just cruising along and bashing out their melody-saturated grooves on "Soundtrack To Your Escape", IN FLAMES just seem to exude that extra sparkle which gives them that slight nudge into a special place of their own. So, in simple terms, "Dead Alone", "Touch Of Red", "In Search For I", "Evil In A Closet" and "Borders And Shading" are chunky, quite soulful and destined to be trusty standards of the IN FLAMES set, if not the ones to make the crowd whoop. None of them give you that chill down the spine, or make the hairs on your arms stand to attention, but you'd pick them over the latest DARKTHRONE album any day of the week. Good rather than God-like, then.
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