In Flames have finally remembered how to write melodeath bangers on killer new album Foregone

Album review: In Flames’ Foregone is the Swedish melodeath icons’ best album in years

In Flames - Foregone album cover
(Image: © Nuclear Blast)

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For a band who are considered a genuinely classic metal act, the last decade has not been creatively bright for In Flames. With albums ranging from the dull (2014’s Siren Charms), to the plodding (2019’s I, The Mask), to the outright woeful (2016’s Battles), they’ve spent way too long, in the words of cult UK comedian Stewart Lee, gradually decreasing the quality of their own obituary. It’s been so long that fans could be forgiven for giving up on the idea of a glorious comeback. But if you’ve adopted that mindset, then hold up for a moment, because with 14th album Forgone, In Flames are definitely showing signs of recovery.

After a fairly forgettable instrumental acoustic guitar intro, first track proper, State Of Slow Decay, comes in on a stompy groove, before shooting straight into fifth gear as In Flames turn back the years with a Clayman-style melodeath riff, while Anders Fridén bellows a hugely catchy chorus among some guttural barks. It’s a promising start, which is then brilliantly built upon with Meet Your Maker. A stalking, snaking guitar line gives way to a bright, euphoric and instantly hummable chorus, which in turn is discarded for a flurry of double bass kicks and thrashing guitars. So far, so “Bloody hell! In Flames are back!” One of the strengths of In Flames at their best has been Anders’ ability to pen a memorable hook. Those hooks have been glaringly absent for the last few albums, but here their return is something of a revelation. The chorus to Bleeding Out is just the most fantastic earworm – even if it overshadows the rest of the song. The melodeath ballad Pure Light Of Mind is far from the band’s finest moment musically, but Anders saves it from the skip button with a swaggering, chest-beating performance. It’s a man-of-the-match display from a vocalist who had appeared to have lost his mojo, and it’s great to hear him back on form.

It also helps that, where previous recent In Flames albums had guitars that felt pedestrian, compromised or phoned in, the arrival of former Megadeth and Nevermore man Chris Broderick as a full-time member has re-sharpened one of the most essential attacks the band have in their arsenal. The riffs on The Great Deceiver are sharper than the tip of a samurai sword, and on Forgone Pt. 1 both Chris and Björn Gelotte brilliantly duck, weave, pound and thrash along in awesome style.

It’s not all perfect, however. Cynosure is pure filler, while Forgone Pt. 2 is overwrought and plodding, making this more a Through The Ashes Of Empires-style album of promise to build on, rather than a The Blackening-esque full return to form. But, after what we’ve been given over the last decade, we’ll take what is definitely In Flames’ strongest album since 2008’s A Sense Of Purpose, maybe even since 2006’s much-loved Come Clarity. Whether the title refers to past glories or an inevitable creative turn, Foregone is a welcome surprise.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.