This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most difficult articles I've ever written. Not only will it be a highly divisive issue for this website and it's readers but also personally a very tough issue for me to discuss. In Flames is my favorite band of all-time; no if's, and's, or but's about it. Hell, I have a jester head tattooed over my right ankle, so yeah, you could say I'm a fan. I've loved everything they've done, well, to a point. I love "The Jester Race", "Reroute to Remain", "Clayman", "Soundtrack to Your Escape", and etc. Even though they've shifted their musical direction drastically over the past say 9 years or so, I've stuck by them, I've defended them, and I kept on buying in. I've been waiting for an album since "Soundtrack to Your Escape" to keep my love for this band intact. "Come Clarity" was different. It's by far not my favorite album by In Flames but it's got some good tracks. However, nothing that holds a candle to their older material. I was praying that "Sense of Purpose" would be the album that would properly extend the ideas of "Come Clarity" in the right direction. Unfortunately, it isn't. If anything, "Sense of Purpose" expands on the issues I had with "Come Clarity". Some of these songs, especially the choruses (which are usually amazing) are downright annoying both vocally and musically. Now, usually, I could just say ok, no big deal, and wait for the next album. The only problem with doing that is, in the history of this band they've never put out two consecutive releases that I have ever felt weren't their best performances until now.
Now am I questioning my allegiance to In Flames? No. Absolutely not. I'm merely stating that I don't even think they're trying anymore. Do I think they're selling out? That's quite a different question. What's up with the clean vocals on "Come Clarity" and "Sense of Purpose"? I'm sorry Anders but that's not you and that's not In Flames. Some of them sound ok on "Come Clarity" but very few sound ok on "Sense of Purpose". The riffs, for the most part, are now less attacking as well and not to mention the fact that through the choruses if Anders' vocals don't make you want to change tracks, the waining, downright annoying guitars will. What would make a band that has been so successful for such a long period of time all the sound change their sound to a more mainstream and commercial sound? That's what I want to know? You have no idea how difficult that was to write. This is just a different band now. Unfortunately, aside from a few excellent tracks on "Sense of Purpose", I'm not really digging it anymore.
Now, onto you detractors. You people who have screamed sellout since "Soundtrack to Your Escape". You people who always post on Blabbermouth anytime there in a news story about In Flames and trash the band for progressing and moving away from the sound they had on "The Jester Race". Grow up. Jesus Christ, I'm so sick of seeing that it's ridiculous. You are just like black metal fans in the fact that you want a certain sound and if a band changes anything in the music you scream sellout and trash them on message boards. Drives me absolutely nuts. You want "The Jester Race", then put in "The Jester Race". You want "Whoracle", put in "Whoracle". You want "Subterranean", for Christ's sake, put in "Subterranean". I'm so sick of all these bands getting that kind of treatment from people who are so trapped in a certain mindset that they can't look outside of their little box. What does blasting a band for changes in musical direction, unless it's outright selling out 100% which even In Flames has not done yet even with the release of "Sense of Purpose", really give you? Some sort of power trip that you can't get outside of an online music forum? That's sickening.
In conclusion, I just think this is a different band now and they are going after a different audience. Will I stil support In Flames? Without a doubt, because they're older albums are some of the best albums ever written in the history of Gothenburg / melodic death metal. Are they still my favorite band? Yes, but as I said earlier, they aren't the same band anymore and even these changes in their sound I'm not really feeling. I'm not slamming this band by any stretch of the imagination. In turn, I am celebrating how great this band is. Unfortunately, I just don't think they're putting forth their best effort anymore. There are some amazing tracks on "Sense of Purpose" and "Come Clarity" but those albums as a whole are not their best efforts by a longshot.