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Review by Hellzora on March 22, 2023.
First off all, let’s get this out of the way right now, this is the best album In Flames have released in over, at least, 15 years. It made me fall in love with them all over again. I must admit that, in the last 10 years or so, I have not been the biggest fan of the direction that the band took. Not to say that they were bad, I just connected a bit less with their overall sound. I felt like, even though we could clearly always hear their core melodic death metal sound, it became overtaken a bit in their newer, alternative rock/metalcore sound. To be fair, it’s all a question of taste. I know people that got into In Flames later in their career and they prefer this sound over their earlier work. Nevertheless, with Foregone, In Flames did the impossible: they somehow managed to create an album that every fan will like, no matter what period they got into the band.
In Flames went through a lot of lineup changes in recent years but they kept their composing core, which is why I think their sound remained somewhat consistent. The two people responsible for this would be Anders Fridén (vocals, songwriting, lyrics) and Björn Gelotte (guitars, songwriting). In 2018, Bryce Paul Newman (bass) and Tanner Wayne (drums) joined the two and in 2021, none other than Chris Broderick (guitars) added his incredible talent. And yes, it's Chris Broderick who played with Megadeth, which is kind of insane when you think about it, the guy went from playing in a legendary, pioneering thrash metal band to playing with a legendary, pioneering melodic death metal band.
Now, let’s dive in Foregone. The intro track, called 'The Beginning Of All Things That Will End', starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar picking that immediately brings you in their world of melodies and emotion. The track builds up in intensity and resolves with beautiful orchestral strings layered on top of the picking. Then, the first real song and first single starts, 'State Of Slow Decay'. When I first heard the heavy guitars and rolling drums that lead into an almost At The Gates riff and the fast-paced drums, my heart stopped a little. I could barely contain my excitement and my first thought was: could it be, In Flames made a melodic death metal album? I tried containing my expectations but every time they released a single, my hype became bigger and bigger.
Let’s talk a bit about those singles. I’m not entirely sure I remember the exact sequence of their release but I’m pretty sure 'The Great Deceiver' was their second single and I absolutely lost my mind. This song is straight out of Clayman and I think one of the things it showcases the most is how much Anders' vocals improved since the Clayman days. The whole song features his signature screamed harsh vocal style that pierces through the rest of the instruments really well. But I think he is even better at enunciating the words when he screams, so it makes it easier to understand what he is saying. The chorus is simply perfect. It’s extremely catchy yet you still feel all the rage and emotions in his voice. When he sings: “Bend the truth to fit your opinion Another excuse, another lie It’s not what you say, it’s what you do The sky is on fire and the angels cry” he repeats the last line three times and the third, he holds the word cry with a long scream. SO satisfying! Musically, the song is super-fast-paced all the time. It only slows down a few seconds just before and during the solo and starts right back with the fast double kick and snare combo. The guitars have that perfect 90s melodic death metal sound, the only small thing is, I would’ve liked a longer solo but in the context of the album, it would be cherry picking negatives because the whole album is filled to the brim with mind blowing solos.
'Foregone, Pt. 1' actually blew me away. It starts with a few seconds of ambient noises and immediately starts with a furious blast beat and pure melody death metal riffage. I have to say, In Flames have never sounded more death metal than on this song, which is an unbelievable positive in my book. The song almost never slows down, except for a little acoustic guitar break a few seconds in the bridge, just before the solo, where it gets a little bit more atmospheric. Speaking of the solo, it’s one of In Flames' specialties and on this song it’s no different. You have the total mastery of technicality and yet, retains that melody and musical sensibility they are so famous for. 'Foregone, Pt. 2' is the perfect accompaniment, it showcases the other side of the band: the more alternative and accessible side of In Flames. It features a lot more of Anders clean vocals and an almost valse like rhythm. I could truly see people dancing to it. Earlier I said that his harsh vocals improved but I think not as much as his cleans. He has a much better control of his breathing and it shows he can hold cleaner notes and has much more range. It is truly beautiful to see one of my favorite bands continue to evolve and get better, even after 30 years!
'Meet Your Maker' makes you travel back in time again but this time, more in the mid-2000 era In Flames. The song starts with an unbelievably heavy riff that will probably hurt your neck (because you will headbang so hard). Anders starts with a long scream/death growl which communicates so much rage and anger, it’s the perfect song to workout to and get pumped up. Plus, it features one of the best solos on the entire album. It’s evident that Chris Broderick brought his talent to the band, the way he shreds on his guitar is truly inspiring. The next song I want to highlight is 'Pure Light Of Mind'. This one is for the fan of the newer, more radio friendly sound. Don’t get me wrong it is still an incredibly well done and well written song. It does a good job of highlighting the great clean vocals of Anders. They have the ability to make a chorus catchy as hell and still full of emotions. Two little things, I am not the biggest fan of the overly produced and full of effects clean vocals. The second would be the lyrics. “I wanna tell you before I die I walked the mile and I'd do it again The darkness that became me You're reason I'm still breathing I walked the mile and I'd do it again”. I have to say I find them a bit cheesy but hey, sometimes, a bit of cheese in moderation is delicious! That said I did not really connect with this song or the one before the last, 'Cynosure', all that much.
I think I could continue talking about the album a long time. The songs 'In The Dark' and 'Dialogue In B Flat Minor' are everything that makes In Flames great. Simple yet incredibly well composed songs, pure heavy and chugging guitar riffs, choruses that will be stuck in your head for days, super technical and melodic solos and Anders total mastery of harsh and clean vocals. 'End The Transmission' is a great song to end the album on. It features all the heaviness you want with some of Anders best harsh vocals. They get a lot lower, in more of a death growl style. Previously, I heard those kinds of vocals only in a live setting, so it’s pretty cool to hear them on an album. Plus, I guarantee that the chorus will be stuck in your head long after you stopped listening.
So, the fact that In Flames made an album like Foregone 13 albums later and 30 years in their career is quite the achievement. As I said before, if you’re a fan of In Flames, no matter where in their career, you will love this album. They made a summary of their career, distilled it into one album and still managed to bring improvements to the sound. I predict that this album will go down as an absolute In Flames classic and one of their best!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10164