The Drop (4/3): Chronicle’s guide for the music store

By and

In FlamesA Sense of PurposeNuclear Blast/Koch4 out of 5 stars

Gothenburg, Sweden’s In Flames bore the torches of the melodic metal sound. If it weren’t for early albums such as The Jester Race and Whoracle, the works of fellow Europeans Carcass and At The Gates, modern metallers Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Bleeding Through would still be under-the-radar hardcore acts. A Sense of Purpose, In Flames’ ninth offering, maintains its death metal aggression in angst-filled anthems such as “Sober and Irrelevant” and “Condemned.” Most notable is In Flames’ masterful knack for injecting pop melodies into abrasive metal without turning to the emo/pop-punk clichés of the American metal mainstream.

Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso RewardThe Lonesome DirgeSelf-released4 out of 5 stars

The Lonesome Dirge is the sort of country-rock record that’ll grace the finest roadhouse jukeboxes for years down the line. Odes to beer, brawls and broken hearts crooned through Parker’s humble, storytelling voice layer simple arrangements of slide guitars and acoustic strums, while the occasional multi-instrumental break launches into drunken, barroom sing-a-longs with horns, accordions and all. Parker even takes on Springstein’s “Atlantic City” with an undaunted grace that’ll secure at least a couple of jukebox spots between Cash and Parsons.

Black TideLight From AboveInterscope 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Black Tide album insert shows four teens in Metallica T-shirts, studded leather jackets and tight, black jeans all superimposed atop a comic book styled battlefield of dead bodies. So I’m thinking, bitchin’ throwback speed metal record, right? But the Black Tide album Light From Above tells a different tale. The ’80s metal roots are definitely in place but quickly become overshadowed by the crushing, over-production of orchestral strings and schmaltzy vocal melodies. The final product ends up somewhere between a rehashed version of Iron Maiden’s epic fantasies and Avenged Sevenfold’s so-unthreatening-it-hurts pop metal. When did we stop expecting metal bands to shock the hell out us?

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