In Flames – Foregone (Nuclear Blast)Friday, 10th February 2023
As metal lifers, we all have specific memories when it comes to pinnacle releases for our favorite artists. Often, they usually relate to when you first experience a band and their musical impact. In the case of In Flames for this scribe, that would be around the mid-1990’s through the Subterranean EP in 1995 – continuing forward through benchmark outings like The Jester Race, Whoracle, Colony, and Clayman. Aware of the shifting styles due to member changes from a melodic death metal platform to the incorporation of groove/alternative/metalcore elements from Reroute to Remain forward, 2019’s I, the Mask showed signs of bridging those two periods together as one in a stronger capacity. Which all the more leads to the follow-up Foregone – another sign that the quintet feel content to take their songwriting into past horizons while remaining compact/sharp to present ethics and tactics.
The steady songwriting team of guitarist Björn Gelotte and vocalist Anders Fridén ensures a record that fluctuates between aggressive riffs, growling/screaming to clean melodies, solid tempos that contain plenty of energy and groove, plus those consistent melodic features/runs in the choruses or guitar passages that leave people clamoring for more. After an acoustic-oriented instrumental start for “The Beginning of All Things That Will End” featuring some ambient string section work, the staccato meets speedy electric proceedings for “State of Slow Decay” burst ahead, the semi-low gallops a nice throwback to Clayman-era days. The twelve tracks traverse the dynamic landscape of the band’s lengthy career – drummer Tanner Wayne magnificent in terms of his propulsive double kick/snare combinations beyond knowing when to just settle into this powerful pocket presence to hammer home the Gelotte/ Chris Broderick axe attack. Handling lost time topics and the panic, fear, frustration of how the world has shattered during modern times, you can feel the anguish turning into hunger through “Meet Your Maker” and “The Great Deceiver” – the latter containing those indelible harmony hooks sprinkled throughout as massive earworms that stick to your brain long-term. Meanwhile Björn and Chris incorporate everything from bluesy-oriented licks to arpeggio-oriented shred angles for the leads – a testament to their seasoning as metal players.
Favorites change daily through successive exposures – currently the spitfire, lower register angst of “In the Dark” with its alternative transition during the chorus and anthem stomper “Bleeding Out” get the blood surging at peak levels. Time will tell if Foregone brings In Flames back in the eyes of all followers young and old – but at this point of the year, it’s a welcome sign that metal still courses through to teach the new generation why they’ve made a strong, legacy bearing impact on the scene.