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In Flames is one of the premier metal bands alive today.  Already considered legends around the world, their 20 year career has seen them traverse a wide variety of sonic territory.  2014, aka #IF2014, has marked the release of their ELEVENTH studio album! 

This album came out just a few weeks ago, and is called Siren Charms.  As has been the case with the last three In Flames albums, fans have bombarded the band with their displeasure over their shift in sound.

Not to say that In Flames has sold out, nor is the new material horrible; but long time fans will indeed notice a shift in the band's sound.  This shift in style is neither good nor bad, it is simply different.  Taking a listen to songs from "Clayman" and then listening to songs on "Sounds of a Playground Fading"; one can definitely hear VERY marked differences.  The main thing to keep in mind, is that no band stays the same.  In Flames is certainly no exception!

In Flames are considered to be the pioneers of melodeath; particularly Swedish melodeath.  What is this word you say?  It is a hybrid of melodic metal and death metal; giving listeners a full dosage of brutally heavy parts (like death growls and double bass) along with melodic singing and guitar harmonies.  The end result is a quite lovely concoction of music that really sounds nothing like anything else on the planet!  Those damn Swedes may very well know how to do this style the best as well! (listen to Soilwork, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, At The Gates, etc)

So getting back to #IF2014... Well, Siren Charms has been released and of course the old school fans are not happy.  Now, any of you dear readers who may have listened to The Shredcast may remember our lovely host Alex and his love for In Flames, especially the "Old Flames"- the name given to the band's material prior to "Reroute to Remain". 

A huge part of the "Old Flames" sound was former guitarist and founding member Jesper Stromblad. Many long-term fans consider Jesper to be the man behind the heaviness of the band.  It seems like as soon as he left the group (back in 2010), the band suddenly got less heavy and more "mainstream".  This "new sound" was particularly noticeable on the first album they released without Jesper- "Sounds of a Playground Fading".  So immediately, many drew the conclusion (perhaps prematurely) that Jesper's departure was the downfall of the band's old sound.  It turns out that this may not have been far off either- as often times, when one member leaves (often a crucial one), the band does take a [sometimes drastic] stylistic change.

I use all of the aforementioned terms loosely and in quotes, because all of this of course, is subject to everyone's personal opinion.   What is heavy to one fan, is totally not heavy to another.  And there is never ANY pleasing anyone in music!  There IS still heavy music on all the recent "New Flames" music, perhaps it is just not "heavy enough" to appease the old listeners who long for the old days. 

So, any In Flames fan knows the constant amount of bickering and name-dropping that always revolves around Jesper's departure.  His departure was long believed to be due to his alcoholism on the road, and his desire to not tour anymore.  However, Jesper has recently become visible again on social media and in deciding to answer some fan questions, has ACTUALLY TALKED ABOUT his reasons for parting ways with the band.

Jesper has a personal Facebook page now, mainly to keep fans updated on his amazing new band "The Resistance".  A fan asked him about In Flames, and he actually wrote a lengthy response:

Hey peepz,
I posted the other day that you should submit questions for me to answer. Well as 99% is about the same subject I can make some things clear once and for all, for save you the troble to ask;
-Will I ever return to In Flames? No one never knows what the future brings,but the chances are slim as they embarked on a different musical journey,they have a solid lineup and Im on a totally different path in life right now. I would never go into details why I quit, but there is always one official story and there is the other......Alcohol is a quite small part of it. That can also answer the next question, what do I think of their new stuff. Listen to The Resistance and that explains a bit of it . We simply went different directions. I need to stand behind and feel inspired with what I do 100%, I owe it to the fans and obviosly the band. All respect to In Flames and their new approach, but for me the band was a guitar/riffbased melodeathband. And Its not anymore, but still amazing musicianship and I dont think its wrong.But its not the vision I had when we started out. But still All respect to them and the huge success,highly deserved! So please, I wish, change the comment from "come back to IF", to "welcome Niklas Engelin", who is one of the nicest talented guys, and the one who fill my shoes perfect, and brings back an amazing energy live and personally!
So there you have it.

I do not and will never compromise with my music. Im on a new path together with the guys in TR who made me want to play again and the good feeling of being a part of a band.Dedication,frienship,genuine passion for the music! Money, fame grammys e t c doesnt matter a crap if U dont have your not comitted 100% to it. I also have a soloalbum coming up, an facebreaking EP and album with The Resistance and some other other excitiing projects. so..... everyone is where thery belong.. Im im a band I love. IF do their thing great... all good:) love you all #TTD #soberandrelevant

Grammar issues aside, this is a very honest statement and a true insight into the once silent guitarist.  It appears that it may have been a conscious effort by In Flames to change their sonic direction; a move which may not have sat well with Jesper.  And this tension alone, paired with the other previously known tensions of touring stress and alcoholism may have been the recipe to cause a rift between the two parties.

To me, the most interesting part is the very beginning.  Not to say that it will happen, but it sounds like Jesper is possibly open to rejoining the band should the opportunity arise?  The band may think otherwise and may continue on without him, similar to Metallica and departed bassist Jason Newsted.  But stranger things have happened, like the many reunions of Limp Bizkit with staple guitarist and writer Wes Borland. 

No matter what happens in the future, the one thing that is certain is that it is extremely interesting to hear from Jester after all these years and hear his thoughts on the past and the future.  One thing I will say, "Siren Charms" is DEFINITELY worth checking out, for old and new fans alike.  If you like good hard rock, you may just find new songs to enjoy from a very amazing band!  The production is out of this world, and the musicianship as always, is top notch.  Furthermore, Jesper's "The Resistance" will be on our radar now, as it is sure to be well... face breaking!

We'll stay tuned in the next couple of days to see if In Flames has any remarks about Jesper's words! 

Check out MetalSucks' take on the situation HERE