Saturday, October 18, 2014

Allen/Lande - The Great Divide (2014)

Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. Two amazing singers that has contributed to some fantastic music during their individual careers. One spends his time with fronting Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob, while the other is a former Masterplan singer and now focuses most of his energy on his solo band. But at the side of their main projects, these guys have also done 3 albums together under the name Allen/Lande, taken from their surnames of course, a project that has now reached its fourth album entitled "The Great Divide".

The big thing that separates this album from the other three is the main composer. The previous three albums had music written by guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Starbreaker, Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall), but he left the project in 2010. And his successor is... Timo Tolkki, who we all know is the former guitarist of Stratovarius and the man who recently started his own solo project called Timo Tolkki's Avalon, whom released two very mediocre albums, so I was worried that the music on "The Great Divide" would be substandard.

Fortunately, my fears were dismissed easily, since the music holds a good standard. Just like with the previous Allen/Lande albums, "The Great Divide" is a more classic inspired heavy metal album that fits both vocalists very well. The music does have some similarity with what Tolkki has done in his Avalon, but it does not overtake the album. Besides, I think that both Russell and Jorn are such competent singers that they can take a mediocre song and make it better. Also, I had some trouble separating which of the two front men was singing on what song, since their vocals are surprisingly similar, but that only works as an advantage since it makes the album more unified. Besides, you do hear the difference after the right amount of listens.

But if I should be honest, I do not care who sings which songs, because both Allen and Lande does a great job in this album, especially Allen who has left the stupid in your face attitude he has in Adrenaline Mob, and instead focuses on doing some great singing. His best performance comes in "Reaching For The Stars", a semi-slow song that gives a lot of room to the singer so he can show his full potential. My favourite Lande moment is his performance on the chorus to "Down From The Mountain" where he goes all in and put out all his power into a few lines of lyrics. Just fantastic.

Then there are of course other notable songs in this album, like the grand semi-ballad "Hymn To The Fallen",  the heavy "Dream About Tomorrow", or even "Lady of Winter" that sounds like it is ripped off of one of the Jorn albums (which of course makes it perfectly suitable for Lande). And ultimately it is those songs that sounds less like a creation from any of the previous or current Tolkki projects that really lifts "The Great Divide". A song like the opener "Come Dream With Me" just does not get me going thanks to the fact that it sounds like something out of a Revolution Renaissance record. This is clearly the best Timo Tolkki written album outside of Stratovarius, but it could have been even better if he kept it clean and simple with the classic heavy metal theme.

So once again I can admit that Allen and Lande makes a great team, even without Magnus Karlsson by their side. "The Great Divide" is a fine heavy metal record that is a must buy for fans of both vocalists, and even for those who enjoy the work of Timo Tolkki. His involvement did not bring as much change as I was fearing, but it did rattle the cage a small bit so the album would stand out against the other 3 Allen/Lande creations. No matter what, "The Great Divide" is an excellent album with great musicianship and good team work.

Songs worthy of recognition: Reaching For The Stars, Down From the Mountain, Lady of Winter

Rating: 8/10 Solid Grounds

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Black Sabbath - Tyr (1990)

I have always been a fan of Norse mythology. It is something with Odin, Thor and the rest of the gods and their stories that just feels so metal. That is why bands like Amon Amarth and Týr will always have a place in my metal heart, not only for their fantastic music, but also for their lyrics. But before any of those bands existed, the veterans in Black Sabbath decided to try out this concept in their 15th album "Tyr". Well, not exactly. "Tyr" is not a concept album, but several songs in the album has some of this theme incorporated, which gave the impression of it being one.

Despite not being a concept album, "Tyr" still feels like a well thought out piece where all of the songs share the same connection and sound. The sound is sort of a continuation from the previous effort, "Headless Cross", but it feels even more dynamic this time thanks to a different production that feels more modern than the darker production that "Headless Cross" had. I still feel that Sabbath does best when the production is a little rough, but I cannot say that the production on "Tyr" works as an disadvantage for the band, since it helps making the songs stand out more. However, the drums are a bit too loud, but it is not really enough to make me complain.

Once again, it is the shear power that impress me, something all of the Tony Martin records have in common. He sings with strength and passion, and he does the music justice. Just listen to"The Sabbath Stones", and be amazed over Tony's well thought out vocals, from the mood to the pure force. Definitely one of the more underrated singers in metal.

The other star of the album is, not surprisingly, the other Tony in the band. Iommi's guitar playing is once again spot on, and he does it with such precision that it gives me goose bumps. From the slower and more delicate parts in "Odin's Court" and  to the more fierce and heavier riffs in songs like "Valhalla" and "The Lawmaker", Tony Iommi brings a high diversity to "Tyr" that is unmatched in any other Sabbath album. I would say that this is one of his best performances in any Sabbath album up to date.

The song quality in this album is incredibly strong. Even the weaker tracks, the ballad "Feels Good To Me" and the opener "Anno Mundi", have some strength in them that makes their appearance worthy. That is why it is so strange to me why this album is rarely taken into question when you discuss about the best album from Black Sabbath. If you ask someone on the street about the best Sabbath album, it is a big chance that they will say "Paranoid", "Master of Reality", "Heaven And Hell", or any other album out of the first 10. With a great line-up consisting of the epic "Jerusalem", the more old school song "The Sabbath Stones", the groovy "Valhalla" and the easily likable "Heaven In Black", I consider "Tyr" to be among the top in the discography, but instead, some fans dismiss it fast just because it does not have Ozzy or Dio as the vocalist. It sucks that most people have such preconceptions about some eras in Sabbath, because it should be about the actual music that is performed, and not who is behind the mic.

"Tyr" is not a perfect album, but it is pretty darn close. With that nordic touch and some great performances from all of the band members, "Tyr" makes a great impression and is a big contender to becoming the best Black Sabbath album when I will summarize the discography. Great variation, great production, great everything. It would have been even more interesting to see how it could have been if the band made a full concept album out of this but it is not needed since the music does the talking, and it does it good. Odin and the rest of the gods are looking down from Valhalla, and can confirm that it feels good to finally be a part of the metal community, all thanks to this masterpiece.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Sabbath Stones, The Lawmaker, Jerusalem, Valhalla, Heaven In Black

Rating: 9,5/10 Anno Mundis

Monday, October 6, 2014

Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase 1 - Neohumanity) (2014)

The metal world has seen many ambitious concept albums before. Albums that take on a grand and epic voyage that is almost too big for some to comprehend, or just a story that is told in more than one album. The next band that is trying out such a huge project is the Swedish melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry. "The Singularity (Phase 1 - Neohumanity)" is the first out of three albums about transhumanism, which is the development of technology and how it can improve the life of human beings. This first album revolve over the rise of artificial intellects and about the debate between those who oppose it and those who embrace it. An interesting concept that could possibly be a heads up for what will happen in the future.

As complex and diverse the concept was, I was hoping for the same with the music. There is no doubt that this is Scar Symmetry playing since the album is filled with their patented type of melodies, structure and singing styles, but there is nothing there that feels fresh or innovative. You have heard it before, and even if you do like it, it will leave a sour after taste. A song like "Technocalyptic Cybergeddon" is the perfect example of this, since there is so much in this song that the band has done before in one way or another. Especially the song structure and the riff structures are very much alike several other previous Scar Symmetry offerings. Recycling at its finest.

But I cannot stop myself from head banging with the rhythm, even though I know it is the same old situation, and that is because the music still has a strong attraction towards it. The groovy "Neohuman" and the apocalyptic "The Spiral Timeshift" are some of the front runners in this album, and there are certainly several other good songs in this record. However, I cannot leave the fact that this album is missing a strong, catchy chorus. A chorus that takes a hold of your brain and does not let go for quite some time. The chorus to "Limits To Infinity" could have had that ability, but the end result is just flat and drags down an otherwise good song.

The strong suit of Scar symmetry has always been Per Nilsson's guitar playing, and he definitely delivers in this album. He mixes simple and complex riffs that fits perfectly with what is played on the keyboard, and the solos he does are well fitted into the songs. He just does a hell of a good job on every album, and so does the rest of the band. The mix between clean and harsh vocals are well balanced and the drums holds a good rhythm together with the bass. So despite that Jonas Kjellgren left the band in 2013, the band still have a good chemistry that creates a comforting harmony that is really reflective in the end product.

Still no word on when the upcoming two parts of the trilogy is coming out, which is a little sad since this album got me hooked. "The Singularity (Phase 1 - Neohumanity)" is a good offering from Scar Symmetry that displays both strength and melody together with a en capturing concept. But the band still has some way to go to make me love this concept series, because the music is not very original and the lack of a very strong chorus is hurting the album. I set my hopes high before Phase 2 and I am sure that the Swedes will conceive another great metal album, and hopefully not just take out a album clone from its cryogenic sleep. The future sure looks good.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Spiral Timeshift, Neohuman, Cryonic Harvest

Rating: 7,5/10 Neuromancers

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Black Sabbath - Headless Cross (1989)

Continuing on the successful sound that came from "The Eternal Idol", "Headless Cross" was released in 1989 and was to that point Black Sabbath's darkest album after the Ozzy era. I am not saying that they completely went back to the doom groove that excelled Black Sabbath's early career, but some of the elements was added to the band's current repertoire from that era, like the dark lyrics and a slightly dirtier production. So this was ultimately as close as Black Sabbath would come to its older self.

If we compare this album to Black Sabbath's previous releases, I would say that "Headless Cross" is a lot like its predecessor "The Eternal Idol", but it also have distinct similarities with "Heaven And Hell", mostly in the shear power of the performance. And it is the singer Tony Martin Harford that really steps up to the plate. He was good in "The Eternal Idol", but he really excels in this album. His voice is showing a force that is very similar to the one that former Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio has, which is of course another reason why this album and "Heaven And Hell" sounds so similar.

But when it comes to quality in the song material, "Headless Cross" does not reach the same astronomic heights as "Heaven And Hell" did. There are indeed several songs in this album that really impress me, like the groovy "Devil & Daughter" and the hard hitting "Black Moon", but the album is not completely rock solid. Songs like "Call of The Wild" and "Cloak & Dagger" keeps this record from being one of the band's top albums. I also feel like most of the songs in "Headless Cross" does not have a very high memorability factor, which makes it harder to acknowledge the album among the rest of the Black Sabbath discography.

I am still fond of the album though. I especially like that Tony Iommi puts more emphasis on the riffs and solos. Definitely some of Iommi's best work in quite some time. But there are more details in this album that brings a smile to my face, like the keyboards in the title track or the build up in "When Death Calls". These small things, and many other intricate details, are what makes this record a winner.

I must say that "Headless Cross" is a great album and so far the best album among those that are not in the Ozzy or Dio era. With a great mix of darkness, melody and modern musicality, this album is very interesting in many aspects. It does miss another great song or two and it does have a tendency to be quite anonymous, but it still holds a good amount of quality that one should not ignore. So after some years of turbulence, it is good to hear that Sabbath has found the right path again. The question now however is if they will keep making the right decisions, or spin out of the road again.

Songs worthy of recognition: Devil & Daughter, When Death Calls, Black Moon

Rating: 8,5/10 Nightwings

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Devin must be the most committed man in metal

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you know that I am a huge fan of Devin Townsend. The Canadian is not only an insane guitarist and an amazing vocalist, his music shows no boundaries at all. No matter if it is ambient, thrash, progressive, pop, or whatever genre, you know that Devin is giving his heart out to make it as perfect as possible. However, I start to wonder if he has outdone himself this time.

Ever since the release of "" has been announced, my expectation for this album has been growing for each passing day. But I never thought that Devin would commit himself in making this record such a big thing. To promote this release, we have had the radio show "Ziltoid Radio" on Team Rock Radio, the universal choir that lets fans be a part of the album, a TV show titled "ZTV" that aired its first episode today, a new website for everything revolving Ziltoid, a comic book that is in the making, and a full blown metal musical in 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Oh, and don't forget that "" is a double album. A Devin Townsend Project album entitled "Sky Blue" and the official follow up record to "Ziltoid The Omniscient" entitled "Dark Matters".

The amount of work that Devin have done is just incredible, especially since he has also done tons of touring, released another album with its new project Casualties of Cool and the amazing "The Retinal Circus" at the same time. I can't believe the amount of work Devin have put into all of this and he actually pulls it off, while a normal human would easily crack under the pressure. The man must really love music and his fans.

Devin has said that he is taking some time off after the tour he is doing for "" which I can understand. The man is in desperate need of a holiday, not because he seems exhausted or washed-up, but because he has earned it. He has worked more or less non stop since he release the first Ziltoid Record. However, if I know Devin, then that break will not be too long, which is good since I want much more of his fantastic music. One thing is for sure though, the man has really earned the universes ultimate cup of coffee.

The double album "" will be released 27th October in Europe and 28th October in the US, and you can rest assure that you will see a review of it on this blog as soon as possible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Threshold - For The Journey (2014)

Threshold has always been that progressive metal band that has produced solid works during their entire career, but nothing too ground breaking nor overly magnificent. You know that their next album will be good, but it will not reach the same heights as some of their bigger equivalents. However, their latest effort, "March of Progress", did quite a big splash in 2012 and almost single handedly helped the band to gain a greater number of fans.

That is why it comes as no surprise that "For The Journey" sounds like a logic follow up to "March of Progress". Just like its predecessor, "For The Journey" impresses with its great guitar and keyboard combination and melodic songs. The only real difference is that this album has a slightly darker mood that gives the album its own identity, but there is no denying that most of the songs here could have easily been fitted in "March of Progress". However, the quality on "March of Progress" was so strong, so I doubt that any of the songs here could really switch place with any song from "March of Progress" without weakening the album.

Fortunately, that does not mean that "For The Journey" contains only weak tracks. The opener "Watchtower On The Moon" is just like most of the songs in "March of Progress". Melodic, groovy and epic. The following track "Unforgiven" is darker and more gloomy, but still contains a good deal of epicness to raise your neck hair, while "Turned To Dust" is incredibly catchy and simple. "The Mystery Show" is also a noticeable track with its powerful chorus and epic ending.

Threshold is not known for their mastodon pieces, but they could have done their best 10+ minute song in this album. "The Box" is a epic 12 minute track that tells an intricate story, and does it with great technicality and musicality. The song shifts tempo here and there so you do not lose interest, and it does it in a very smooth fashion. It is an impressive piece that gives the album an extra edge.

A peculiar thing I noticed with "For The Journey" is that it is a rather short Threshold album. Actually, the first album that is below the 1 hour mark. Excluding the bonus song "I Wish I Could" and the acoustic version of "Lost In Your Memory", "For The Journey" is only around 50 minutes long, which is not impressive since it has a couple of songs that does not completely cut it. It is especially the second half of the album that feels lack luster with a boring riff based song ("Autumn Red") and a song that tries to be more epic than what it can handle ("Siren Sky"). I get the feeling that the band almost rushed this album in hoping to keep the momentum that was started by "March of Progress", which here proved to not be a fully bad decision, but it would have been better for the band to take an extra year with this album to really work it through.

"For The Journey" does not quite reach the same height that "March of Progress" reached, but there is no doubt that this album is still a good outing for the band. The band has kept on building and developing the sound that made the predecessor so successful and made a album that is great, but still miss some stronger song writing. No matter what, Threshold is still riding along on the high road after realising another high quality album. Their musical journey does not have a end in sight just yet, so I will keep on enjoying it with pleasure.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Box, Watchtower On The Moon, Turned To Dust

Rating: 7,5/10 Mystery shows

Friday, September 19, 2014

Crucified Barbara - In The Red (2014)

It is always nice to see women in this male dominated world known as metal, and it is even nicer to see a full band of them. Crucified Barbara is a Swedish hard rock band consisting of 4 women known as Mia Coldheart, Klara Force, Ida Evileye and Nicki Wicked. With names like that, you can be sure that this all female band will create some head banging rock that is both heavy and catchy.

And sure enough, "In The Red" is a perfect continuation on what the band did on the 2012 release "The Midnight Chase". It is good solid hard rock with a little sleaze rock vibe, nice riffs and a Mia Coldheart that once again shows that she has one of the toughest voices in metal. And it also feels like the band has grown on several aspects since the last album. The band chemistry is at an all time high and the song writing is both versatile and dynamic. It is a good old punch that has the same strength as a amazon woman.

Don't believe me? Just check out "I Sell My Kids For Rock'N'Roll" and you will see the band's capability. fast and edgy riffs, tough drum beats and butt loads of attitude. However, that track is not the only track in the album that contains those elements. "Don't Call On Me", "Lunatic #1" and "Follow The Stream" are all songs that show both speed and toughness that out matches most of what their male equivalents can come up with.

Then we have the slower tunes that breaks up the album perfectly so it does not feel like one big blob. My favourite of those would probably be "To Kill A Man" that is about the urge to commit murder against men who abuse women. A great track with strong lyrics. Other slightly slower tunes that you should check out are the classic rock song "Electric Sky", the melodic "The Ghost Inside" and the simplistic "Do You Want Me".

The only real problem with "In The Red" is that there is no song that really stands out as a true winner. The album is very, very solid as a unity and most of the tracks can also stand on their own two legs, but it is very unlikely that any of the songs on "In the Red" will top the charts as one of the best songs of 2014. I also think that the production could have been a little better, but that is a very minor issue since the band plays as well as they do.

"In The Red" is indisputably Crucified Barbara's best work so far. It is a great hard rock album that shows a great variety and awesome musicality. There is no doubt in my mind that Crucified Barbara is the current leaders of the women rock movement and they carry that title with pride and honor. Do not miss this album out, it is one of the better hard rock albums that has been released in 2014. Female power at its best.

Songs worthy of recognition: To Kill A Man, Electric Sky, Don't Call On Me, Lunatic #1

Rating: 8,5/10 Shadows

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slash - World On Fire (2014)

It is pretty safe to say that Saul "Slash" Hudson has had a pretty successful career. From founding Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver to guest appear in a Super Bowl half-time show, the man in the top hat has made himself a name for his guitar skills and his stage presence. And since he joined forces with Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, Slash has done some great things on his solo albums.

"World On Fire" is album number 3 for Slash (the second one featuring Myles & The Conspirators), and to no one's surprise, "World On Fire" is a album that is filled with good clean rock where Slash and his guitar playing is on the center stage. And when I say it is filled, I really mean it. "World On Fire" consists of 17 tracks and has a total play time of 1 hour and 17 minutes. Two numbers that is way too large for most listeners, and even for yours truly. It is nice to see that Slash has a lot of inspiration and so, but that does not mean that he can cram in every single song he wrote into one album. Slash really needs to learn how to "kill his darlings" so the album doesn't suffocate under all these tracks, or he just needs to save them for a future album.

One upside with having 17 songs to chose from, is that it is not that hard to find at least 2 or 3 songs to find a liking to (if you have the stamina to listen through the entire album). Some of you will probably prefer the Soundgarden vibes in "Wicked Stone", or perhaps the technical and swinging "Beneath The Savage Sun" is closer to your musical taste. Maybe the slow, but heavy ending song "The Unholy" speaks to you, or the fast and catchy opening title track. There is a lot of different styles and types of songs to chose from in "World On Fire", so it is just up to you to search through it and find your favourites.

Then there is also the fact that it is extremely hard to make a huge album without cutting corners with some fillers. The low point of this album is still fairly high, but it has its weak spots. The instrumental track "Safari Inn" does not add anything useful to the album while songs like "Bent To Fly" and "Battleground" just makes me bored. Fortunately, the fillers is a minority in "World On Fire", which makes the album much more enjoyable than what it could have been.

The big question however is if this so called bromance has already taken its toll, that it has already reached its high note. I think it is too early to tell right now, but since both "Apocalyptic Love" and "World On Fire" was such huge albums and that they had the same type of music, it is no wonder that one could be fearing that Slash will not get much more out of this cooperation. I would definitely love to see Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators in Slash's next solo album since they are very skilled in what they do and they seem to enjoy working with the main man, but I would not be surprised if Slash had found new henge men to cooperate with to the next album.

The huge play time and a loss of dynamics makes "World On Fire" inferior to its predecessor "Apocalyptic Love", but that doesn't mean that Slash, Myles and The Conspirators has made a bad album. "World On Fire" is still a good album for those who search for good hard rock with nice and unique riffs. It may not set my world on fire, but this album certainly makes me warm inside of the goodness it brings.

Songs worthy of Recognition: World On Fire, Beneath The Savage Sun, The Unholy

Rating: 7/10 Avalons

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Black Sabbath - The Eternal Idol (1987)

After all the confusion that "Seventh Star" brought, the next Black Sabbath had to be clear and straight for the band to gain back their reputation. And that is exactly what the band did in "The Eternal Idol", but they did it in a more unexpected way than I imagined.

"The Eternal Idol" is actually very much alike its predecessor "Seventh Star". The music is oozing of classic 80's rock that might work better on acts like Whitesnake and Deep Purple. However, this time the music actually feels like something Black Sabbath could do, and not something from a side project. But saying that "The Eternal Idol" is Sabbath to the core would be a lie, it does not have any of the darkness that personalized the early albums and the Iommi riffs are more in a normal fashion, although they are still interesting and nice.

A new singer named Tony Martin Harford started his Black Sabbath career in "The Eternal Idol" and he is so far the second longest running vocalist in the band (after Ozzy). His voice fits this type of music well, and he does an overall good job as the lead vocalist. Other wise, there are no new additions to the band in this album, but a couple of drop offs from their last efforts, including Ray Gillen, Geoff Nicholls and Dave Spitz (Dave is credited in the album but does not actually appear in it).

What I like most about "The Eternal Idol" is that it has more bite to it. The songs are tougher and feels more like hard rock, something "Seventh Star" never did. It kind of reminds me of the Dio era of Sabbath, only without the fantasy lyrics. But it also have some of the classic Sabbath vibe in it, especially in the ending track "Eternal Idol" where we hear some of the darkest riffs Iommi has made after the Ozzy era. A stunningly awesome piece that ends the album in a remarkable way.

There are a good amount of good picks from this album. "Lost Forever" does not only impress with its drive and heavy attitude, but also a fantastic guitar solo and a strong and epic ending where Harford shows his range. The opener "The Shining" does also have a good drive, but it also shows some sensitivity with its slower parts. A good diverse track that is also catchy. Finally, we have the more groove oriented "Hard Life To Love", a song that catches my attention thanks to its interesting song structure and infectious main riff.

However, if there is one thing I am missing from "The Eternal Idol", it is the fact that the overall song quality is just okay. No horrible song, but no real killer either. The record is filled with fine songs that does a good job in entertaining the listener, but it is highly unlikely that some one would chose any of the songs from "The Eternal Idol" as some of Black Sabbath's best works because either the band has done similar songs that are better, or the  song just does not have that attraction to it. In other words, together the songs in "The Eternal Idol" creates a good album, but they would not be strong enough to be able to stand alone.

"The Eternal Idol" is definitely one of those Black Sabbath albums that does not get the recognition it truly deserves. It does a pretty good job mixing the band's entire career, from the early days and the Dio era to the more recent outputs. It is a album that feels good, fresh, and most importantly, it feels like it belongs in the Sabbath discography. Nothing is truly eternal, but "The Eternal Idol" is a album that has a long enough life span to entertain several generations of metal fans.

Songs worthy of recognition: Eternal Idol, The Shining, Hard Life To Love

Rating: 7,5/10 Glory Rides

Monday, September 8, 2014

In Flames - Siren Charms (2014)

I honestly feel sorry for In Flames. The amount of shit they have gotten from the metal community the last decade has mostly been uncalled for. Sure, they started off as one of the leaders in the Swedish melodic death metal scene and has now developed their music into something different, but I still feel like they have done several right choices in moving their music into another dimension. I will always commend a band that is willing to move forward with their music and not rely on staying in a small range of the musical spectrum. I still think classics like "Clayman" and "The Jester Race" are the band's best work and that their newer material is not near the same quality, but they have not really created any horrible albums so far in their career (except for the horribly uneven "A Sense of Purpose").

But after hearing "Rusted Nail" and "Through Oblivion" (the two first singles from the album), I was tempted to do like many other metal heads, and call "Siren Charms" one of the worst releases this year without even hearing the entire album, but that would ultimately be stupid. After hearing the album, I still think "Siren Charms" is a big step backwards compared to the 2011 release "Sounds of A Playground Fading", but it is not a album I would consider as the worst of the worst in 2014.

However, there are several points in "Siren Charms" that bugs me out. The singer Anders Fridén sounds more like Korn singer Jonathan Davis for every album, and it is obviously not a good sign. Nothing against Jonathan, I just don't think this style of singing fits very well with the music In Flames is playing. It is especially bad since it seems like neither the harsh or clean vocals works out for him. Then the overall song quality is pretty much substandard, especially since most of the songs sounds like bad copies of any song from "SoAPF". "Rusted Nail" is a perfect example of that. It has an interesting riff and the verse is intriguing, but the chorus is so boring that I fall asleep. At the end of the day, it is the fact that "Siren Charms" contains too much electronic sounds and not enough guitars that makes me despise the album. A small hint of electronica is fine, don't over do it please.

It is hard for me to just chose a couple of bad songs to rant on, because the album is filled with them. Worst of them is probably "Through Oblivion" that feels like a bad indie track that only a hipster could love. Might be the worst song the band has ever created. Other bad moments in "Siren Charms" are the bland ballad "With Eyes Wide Open", the boring torture device "Dead Eyes" and the bad "Where The Dead Ships Dwell" copy "Monsters In The Ballroom". I also wished that the two bonus tracks "The Chase" and "Become the Sky" would at least try to lift the album, but to no avail.

Luckily, there are a couple of tracks that makes me endure this record. "Everything's Gone" impresses with its heavy riffs and aggressive attitude (it is the only song in the album that even is some what close to the "old" In Flames), while the title track does have its moments with its interesting structure and overall good vibe. We also have "When The World Explodes", that might be considered as a metal core song, but it is well made, and the opera singer Emilia Feldt does a nice job putting her touch to the song. In my opinion, "When The Worlds Explodes" is the only song in "Siren Charms" that is both innovatory and good. I also find "In Plain View" pretty satisfying.

For those of you who in the last minute hoped for the band to return to their death metal roots, there is nothing for you in "Siren Charms" that you will have any interest in. And for those of you who liked the last couple of albums that In Flames has put out, you should also enter with caution. Because even if "Siren Charms" is a logical follow up to "Sounds of A Playground Fading", it just reeks of bad decision making. Too much electronics and an overall stale production and song writing makes "Siren Charms" unpleasant. Therefore I think the name is pretty fitting. It lures you in, making you think that you will reach some sort of paradise, only to eventually stab you in the back.

Songs worthy of recognition: When The World Explodes, In Plain View, Everything's Gone

Rating: 4/10 Dead Eyes