Siren Charms, by In Flames
Suggested by Ross Silcock
Is there anything more Metal than flames?
Okay, so technically, METAL is actually more metal than flames. But while metal is unarguably metal, flames are definitely more Metal. Capitalisation matters, folks. There’s actually one thing more Metal than flames in the Hierarchy of Things That Are Metal… I’ll share my Top 10 Metal Things with you now.
Honourable mentions go to denim, demons, cargo pants and Stonehenge.
In Flames are a Swedish purveyor of Heavy Artistry in the Death and Melodic Death milieu. Rocking with the devil since 1990, they’ve unleashed thirteen LP discs onto the unwary headbanging public, of which 2014’s Siren Charms is number eleven.
As is more common than I expected, I’d no real history with In Flames, which is largely down to their inception and initial success falling slightly south of my obsession with the form. I went in with mild distaste at the fact that both of their genre descriptors use the word Death, channelling the barmaid at Bob’s Country Bunker telling the Blues Brothers that they play both kinds of music there, country and western. Happily, while the word Death does make up two out of the three words on their musical CV, the word Melodic does a great deal of the heavy lifting.
There’s a gothic feel to Siren Charms, with it’s subtle (and not so subtle) use of synths in places, and this helps tone down the harshest blast furnace heat that you might expect from Metal’s most final and fatal frontier. Songs like my standout Paralyzed, and Monsters in the Ballroom, are almost Alt Metal, even Nu Metal in tone, with perhaps only the drums giving the Death game away. The guitar solos are restrained and surprisingly musical, a far cry from the buzz-trill I expected.
Vocally, Anders Friden does a fine and nuanced job throughout, managing to wring a snarling emotion from the more symphonic tracks like With Eyes Wide Open or the title track Siren Charms. I don’t think Anders brings us a duff note on the whole album, which, considering his forays into Growl Country, is a blessed relief. I was braced for a growlathon, but what I got was a growl that actually felt like an anguished extension of the singer’s personality rather than a beardy bloke gargling sand while bellowing through a bobble-hat. If all growlers were like Anders, we wouldn’t have a problem.
While I found myself enraptured by the band’s Siren Charms, on release the world didn’t embrace the album quite so readily. This surprises me, although I could agree that the sound is a mite too anodyne and polished in parts, and the lyrics are all Serious Business, but no matter what those Nineties hacks thought, I liked this album. I give Siren Charms 7/10, and hope to be dashed on the band’s metaphorical rocks by more of their beguiling output.