In Flames

A Sense of Purpose (Koch Records)

The opening strains of "The Mirror's Truth" might give you the wrong impression about A Sense of Purpose. This album is not about speed, power, and the almighty riff. Although these are certainly integral elements of In Flames' delivery, there's a lot more going on here than can usually be expected in the all-too-frequently reductive world of metal. Both in terms of song-craft and substance, In Flames is reaching for something more. Lyrically, the album is a cohesive statement about the nature of isolation within society, reflecting a deep disassociation between personal identity and social reflection. In a way, these songs mirror many of the themes running through the works of Czech literary master Franz Kafka. Oppression, loss of self, socially engineered transformation, and the futility of struggle against the often-senseless nature of human purposes are all explored on this disc, and continued in the stunning artwork provided by Alex Pardee. The images gracing the insert and liner notes fuse the personal horror of The Metamorphosis with the style of a well-executed graphic novel. Backing these words and images is the aptly feral snarl of Anders Friden. The rest of the band is a wonder of restraint, allowing for just enough space and melody in the songs to make them feel all the more claustrophobic and crushing when everything comes crashing in.

 
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