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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    A Sense of Purpose

    Tahir Ahmad, a student and fan of Swedish metal band In Flames, let me know that the band, along with At The Gates and Dark Tranquility, was a pioneer in the melodic death metal genre. What set those groups apart from their peers at the time was the fusion of dark, heavy vocals and lyrics with complex melodies and distorted guitar work. What resulted would become known as the Gothenburg sound (so named after the native Gothenburg, Sweden) that has influenced much of the metal that reaches our ears today.

    Without a strong background in metal and its nuances, I can only give my take on In Flames’ newly released “Sense of Purpose” as a new listener with open ears. Being ignorant to a discography spanning nine albums and fourteen years, I write this for anyone left out there listening to metal and wanting to learn something new. So, feel free to flame me as I mentally compare their sound to All That Remains and Iron Maiden. Just to clarify, the term death metal is a bit of a misnomer. While the lyrics in the genre do find themselves in the realm of the dark and morbid, death is not at all the primary focus. The Flame itself addresses, more often than not, life, its trials, and its tribulations.

    “Should I join the feast Should I acknowledge the leash The future in captivity I’m not who I’m supposed to be.”

    Introspective, the lyrics decry conformity in the album’s opener, “The Mirror’s Truth.” This idea appears in the verse, “You’re a slave to the laws and reason force fed to you by an uncaring populace. You should know you’re better than this,” which is perhaps a message to the boy with an owl’s face gracing the album’s cover. As the album progresses, themes of pain, individuality, truth, rage, and despair emerge as the world spins on its black axis and the protagonist presses on, faltering but never outright falling. Existentialist? I’m up for an argument. One does wonder how often a person can hit black bottom in a single album. Yet, the Sense of Purpose, as best as I can wager, ultimately perseveres. Sonically, each song plays out with its own character and conviction. Surging, virtuosic guitars are accompanied by driving drumbeats and keyboard work-most staying at about mid-tempo. Vocalist Anders Friden delivers his death growls powerfully, though without much range. Be sure to listen to the “Chosen Pessimist,” as it’s one of their more epic and aurally satisfying tracks on the album despite the abrupt ending. Altogether, I can say this is a good album. For anyone who doesn’t care for metal, don’t bother. For those of you who know In Flames and already have an opinion of their earlier work and current efforts, I say give this a chance as it’s still a good listen. For neophytes like me, it’s time to go out and listen to some more with a sense of purpose.

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