Year:  2000
Country:  Sweden
City:  Gothenburg
Label:  Nuclear Blast
Format:  CD, LP
Tracks:  11
Time:  44 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Death Metal

In Flames' pivotal fifth full length effort unites the band's past and future strengths (or weaknesses) like no other record. The release still features some faster melodic death metal elements from the past as well as the melodic twin guitar leads in the vein of Iron Maiden and a versatile vocal performance somewhere between slightly restrained growling, slightly experimental performances inspired by different groove and nu metal bands and a hesitatingly increasing number of clean vocal parts. The album also gives a hint at future records as it is filled with extremely catchy and mainstream orientated choruses, an increased used of electronic music and lyrical teams that slowly move away earlier topics such as astronomy and towards texts about inner struggles. Some fans may judge this record as the last great In Flames album, others might say that it's the first in a streak of more courageous, experimental and modern releases. Both sides are right and as some of the very few who enjoys both old and contemporary In Flames, I happen to like this release anyway. The second category delivers with the versatile grower "Square Nothing" that mixes the best elements of everything In Flames would deliver in the future: fast-paced verses, melodic pre-choruses and choruses, enchanting guitar melodies and even solos, calm breakdowns in an alternative rock fashion, weird sound collages including church bells, vocals that are sometimes sung, screamed or whispered, a dominant use of keyboards and many different genres and styles covered in less than four minutes without sounding pointlessly put together. Only few bands can put so many ideas in one single song and make it sound perfectly coherent. That's one element that makes In Flames stand out. The melancholic "Satellites and Astronaut" can be seen as a more rhythm orientated predecessor to tracks like "The Chosen Pessimist", "Liberation" and "Through Oblivion". This song is probably the most atmospheric and versatile of In Flames so-called half-ballads and maybe also the band's best offering in this category. I would say that this track is the second best on this concise output. If we look at this release today, this is probably a reconciliatory record for both fans of the early days and the contemporary phase. On this record, both worlds harmoniously collide in almost equal parts. Otherwise, the short and concise song writing and some incredibly catchy choruses make this album stand out as a high quality release in the band's extensive discography. This release doesn't include any fillers and only above average to excellent songs. This album may not be as revolutionary as "Lunar Strain", as consistent as "Subterranean" and as versatile as "Sounds of a Playground Fading" but it's definitely a highlight in the band's career that both old and new fans should know and own. (*Review by Kluseba ).
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