Review: In Flames’ Foregone Sparks a New Fire
It’s strange how times change. At one point, the merest hint of new music from melodeath titans In Flames would have produced more collective saliva than a pack of cartoon dogs in a sausage link factory. The quintessential elements of the Gothenburg sound, paired with more stable line-ups, rocket-propelled the band to the top of their game; do The Jester Race and Whoracle even need shouting out at this point? (Yes, but you get the point.) Efforts ranging from fine to mildly pedestrian in the last decade in particular, however, have attracted a more cautious primer to Foregone, their latest endeavor. So, what do the pioneers have up their sleeves to charter a new course?
As it turns out, they’ve got some of the best music they’ve written in years up there. Foregone is a sparkling implementation of old sound and new, still angry ideas. If you can stomach a slow start, the frankly lovely strings of the acoustic opener pave the way for “State of Slow Decay”, a track so goddamn good you might just keep starting the album over and over again. It snaps and snarls with trademark bite, sweeping in a delicious clean chorus that simply lifts off from the running start.
Before you’ve even had a chance to compose yourself, “Meet Your Maker” kicks the door down, a tightly focused assault on the world at large. Anders Fridén is a man possessed once more, upping the game here and throughout with both expertly crafted hooks and explosive, embittered performances; his guttural turn in closer “End the Transmission” is one for the ages. The full-time addition of former Megadeth axeman Chris Broderick has been revelatory and the pair max out in “Bleeding Out”, swinging for the fences with breakneck riffs and a gargantuan whirls and swells into the third act. It’s trademark, prime-time In Flames, but it’s so fresh and full of vitality that it goes beyond even their high benchmark.
After “Foregone Pt.1” roars out a monstrous opening riff into some honest-to-goodness death metal, the second half of the album taps the brakes more often, with moodier tempo shifts in the downward direction. “In The Dark” is a proggy delight streaked with riffs that could cut you in half, while the bombard balladry of “Pure Light of Mind” is wrought with pure emotion, an all-they’ve-got scream into the uncaring abyss. “The Great Deceiver” adds a spark of life to the back end with a relentless, chasing pace to give proceedings a little zip, but the name of the game here is quality and the band have enough re-energised servings of that to make even the walking speed sections all-timers.
While the last few years have been turbulent for those waiting for In Flames to reclaim their mojo, they needn’t worry any further. Foregone is a stick of dynamite with a first-place ribbon attached; a sensational rejuvenation that even the staunchest doomsayers will have a hard time picking apart. Even with the faults present, it blends what made the band so good in their prime with the unique components of the current line-up to make an album that stands well within the territory of the best they’ve put out before it. Rejoice, people, for In Flames have returned – and how.
Foregone will be released this Friday, February 10 via Nuclear Blast Records, though you can preorder your copy today.