HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Enchant - Blink Of An Eye

Back with an album similar, if not a little more lively and percussive than the immense Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10 album from two years back, San Francisco's Enchant have another winner here, a record that is a gleaming alloy of the rarely examined mid'80s to mid '90s material from Rush and a lush, acoustic, groovy pop sensibility akin to acts ranging from Todd Rundgren to Mullmuzzler to Tiles to Styx, the last a comparison driven very much by the similarity of Ted Leonard's vocals to those of Tommy Shaw. The melodies enclosed are dreamy, complex, euphoric (see Ultimate Gift and poignant rat race lament Monday), and their buoyant nature is supported by the energetic and sizzling drum work of Sean Flanegan, who plies his trade through a profusion of open high hats, cymbal splashes and tight snare whacks. As befits that Rush comparison, the guitars are behaved, timid, round, integrated into the rich melodies, the entire album living, breathing and thriving from this chemistry, each track, despite wildly different structures, rocking quite evenly and persistently, creating a unified work of loud, sparkly, optimistic progressive pop metal.
Rating 8.5

In Flames - Reroute To Remain
(Nuclear Blast)

I applaud the band's widening sense of dynamic, but for the most part, I find the melodic bits (which are usually also the singing bits) jarring, shoved in with a shoehorn into songs that are otherwise sawing away gloriously at the meatiest riffs on the planet. Anders has taken a lot of stick for his quiet singing on this album, and he deserves it. It usually doesn't fit, it's usually warbling, cracking and verging on out of tune, and it's a good place to hear his accent as well as the band's awkward English lyrics, which is why some silly effect is thrown upon it like a condiment on a hot dog. Suggestion: next time, stick to melodic, doubled/tripled, thrashy melodic vocals, like those in Free Fall, like those in the choruses of Dark Signs and Egonomic, like those of Devin Townsend. It fits with the pure thrash sound, because it's at least of the same family. Other than that, man, I'm digging the lion's share of this thing, because it's packed full of those shining moment riffs that are the unanimous highlights of the past two albums. The guitars positively heave over unstoppable grooves, faves being Black & White, Cloud Connected, Trigger and the title track - ditzy blonde keyboards included. Nobody gets to this purely metallic place with this much frequency, save for my new favourite band of the '00s, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames in possession of these remarkably percussive riffs and the fuzziest, thickest guitar sound goin', one that incidentally has a lot of similarity with Anders' thrash vocals, another synergy, another reminder about discipline and cohesion. In effect, the heaps of chemistry in the band, when all, including Anders, are thrashin', is reason enough to stop trying shit for no other reason except that it's different, like, for example the brief mellow smudge at 1:03 of Dismiss The Cynics, or the tinkle at the start of Free Fall - both utterly pointless. However, having said that, the completely mellow tracks work pretty well, one picturing In Flames working towards this brand name with a number of styles per album like the great gods of the '70s, even though, like I say, it would best be served if ideas per song were kept to a minimum, and if those ideas were closer brethren of each other.
Rating 8

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