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In Flames 

Come Clarity (Ferret)

These Swedes must have gotten testosterone injections as part of their contract with Ferret, their new label, because their latest single, "Take This Life," is the most ferocious thing they've done in a while. The album's not a monochromatic thrashfest, though; Come Clarity shows remarkable range. The title track is a mopey but still crunching anthem, almost worthy of the Deftones -- except for the guitar solo, which is pure '80s hair anthem. "Crawl Through Knives," on the other hand, pretty much encapsulates all of In Flames' previous trademarks: clean background vocals, a sing-along chorus, crunchy thrash riffing, and a delicate tincture of synth, pumping away unobtrusively at crucial moments.

The brooding "Dead End" features guest vocals from Lisa Miskovsky, a Swedish singer-songwriter who co-wrote the Backstreet Boys' "Shape of My Heart" -- a touch almost guaranteed to freak out metalheads worried that In Flames is just Evanescence with a dude up front. But those folks are wrong. The electronics are far less prominent on this album than its predecessors, mixed down in favor of roaring guitars and a huge drum sound, including the least annoying cymbals on any metal disc in recent memory. Come Clarity is In Flames powerfully and gratifyingly reborn.

More by Phil Freeman

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