First impressions... Karma - 9.5/10 I've already made my opinion on this clear - awesome song. Amazing melodies, powerful vocals, great energy throughout. Black Wings - 7/10 Jake's vocals are at the forefront here. Fairly slow song, mixes guitars and piano fairly effective. Vocals are fine. It's not particularly memorable but not a bad track either. The solo takes the track in a faster direction before the end (I actually quite like it) but I'm not sure it fits with the overall song. Inside a Lullaby - 7.5/10 I can imagine Eochaid and Krofius absolutely hating this one again Jake's vocals are front and centre, carrying the song with some nice piano melodies. I prefer this one to Black Wings, but they're both kinda similar. Both a showcase for Jake. Dead To Me - 7/10 I'm not sure about this one. It starts off with some dude talking, it almost feels like it's a response to The Jester's Door, starting lyrics: What more can a man do than do the right thing, right? I came to the crossroad where my mind wandered - where would I be? What would I become? The mask is burning, the heart aches from a path of errors I'm infected through addiction, and I live a life... but my sanity[audio seems to fuck up on my copy here?] to evil To whom it may concern, live with the notion, the scars that you can't see But I... I will come out stronger, and in the long run a winner, against my greatest fucking enemies You're all dead to me Acoustics during this song are strongly reminiscent of the In Flames acoustics from back in the day (and at the end of Alias), recognisable straight away, which is nice. Suddenly at 2:17 we get some heavy guitar work midway through a repeat of the chorus, then the intro dude repeats the "I came to the crossroad where my mind wandered - where would I be? What would I become?" line, before Jake sings a little more, chorus is repeated and the song ends with some kick ass melodic riffs. This one is all over the place to be honest. I kind of like it but structurally it's a bit of a mess. Heartrage - 7/10 I was expecting something a bit heavier based on the title alone, and this one does indeed pick up the pace. Some nice melodies at the start, breaks down with some unnecessary electronics around 00:40 then onto the chorus which is kinda slow and unconvincing. Around 02:08 there are a few nice guitar melodies, but before they get started properly it breaks back down into electronics and Jake's vocals. Another one I'm not sure about. Chorus is catchy, some good riffs, but... I dunno. Again, the structure is a bit loose, and the electronic elements aren't really adding anything. Anyway, it's fine overall. Here to Save You - 7/10 Nice intro, which is then interrupted by electronics and Jake's singing. Jeez, this is kind of like listening to Siren Charms structurally at times, just with much more energetic riffs and far superior vocals. I never thought I'd be making that comparison on this album, but there it is. Song speeds up a bit and Jesper rips an awesome solo, then back to the usual. Chorus is as you'd expect from this album. I don't know what happens at 02:48, sounds like somebody just plugged in the soundboard from an 80's arcade game. It shouldn't be there. I'm getting the feeling this album could have done with a stronger hand on production taking all of these random elements and reigning it in a bit. Muted Life - 7/10 Nice melodic opening which lasts about 38 seconds before slowing down for Jake's vocals (again, sorry to make the SC comparison, but this is exactly how it was in SC - melodic intro followed by slow, quieter verse). There's nothing inherently wrong with this song but it's not a whole lot different to what has just come before it. Closure - 9.5/10 The opening to this one has older In Flames (and I would say even some of the more melodic parts of ASOP) all over it. Really nice. This actually flows really well into the verse and vocals, which is an improvement over the last couple of songs at least. It's another slower track, but I actually really, really like this one. The strongest track behind Karma, imo. The entire song flows really smoothly, the atmosphere is chilling, the melodies are beautiful. Chorus is Jake's vocals at their best, piano elements working very well in contrast with his voice. Melodic guitars at around 03:08 are awesome too. This song has some real emotion behind it. Letters to Myself - 7.5/10 This song was actually more representative of the album than Karma, as it turned out. It's actually a bit better to my ears after listening to the whole album. It's like a weird mix of traditional Power Metal (especially in vocals and chorus) and the melodic metal of ASOP. It's not terrible, but the solo is a bit underwhelming here. It fits the song though, which doesn't happen across the entire album, so that's a plus. The chorus here really reminds me of another band, but I can't think of who. It's a PM band. Oh well. Dark Clarity - 6/10 Beginning of this song is very 80's metal-ish, which is kind of cool. The melodies are then accompanied by some unnecessary electronics (how often have I said that?) and once again we slow right down and Jake's vocals take over for the verse. Chorus is one of the weaker ones on the record imo. Not much to say about this one, other than that there's too much electronic stuff going on. I want to listen to the guitar work, not some random keys playing over the top of it. The electronic stuff kind of ruins the guitar melody breakdown which is actually good. Holding Your Breath - 7/10 This time we start with Jake's vocals, which I don't think are carrying a great melody. His actual vocals are OK but the melody isn't quite right to my ear. It gets better after the first chorus as the rest of the instruments start to back the vocals up. This one's fine but as I get to the end of the album I feel like I've heard this already, just with different lyrics. Jake does go to a slightly higher vocal register at points here which is very reminiscent of traditional PM. Rescue Ride - 7/10 Starts with keys and Jake's vocals, which are this time carrying a much better melody. Rest of the song is very much as per the majority of the album. It's not bad but nothing to write home about either. So, yeah, overall I'm kinda disappointed by this. I mean it's not bad or anything, but structure of the songs somehow manages to be all over the place and yet predictable at the same time. Choruses sound very similar across the board. Jake is a good singer but there isn't enough variety in the music to help him. He's carrying too much melody with his vocals during the verses, Jesper saves most of his melodic work for the intros and outros, plus the random solos which are fine but don't fit a lot of the songs they were inserted into. Again, this is highly reminiscent of Siren Charms. Are we sure Jesper had no say in how that album was constructed? I expected Karma to be a representation of the album as a whole, but it isn't. Most of the album sounds nothing like Karma. That's unfortunate as for me Karma is by a fair distance the best song on here (Closure excluded). The album doesn't have the energy I was expecting. There are some injections of that melodic power into various songs at different points, but so much of the album is either slow paced or overusing electronics. As I said in my description of Here to Save You, this album is begging for a strong producer to rectify some of the more obvious mistakes that stunt some of the tracks' momentum, or parts that would simply have been better off cut out entirely. The album is kind of like a novel that hasn't been proof-read - the author gets his point across but doesn't do so in the most polished way. A lot of decent 7/10 stuff but the only songs that really felt like they had been brought to their full potential were Karma and Closure for me. Both excellent tracks. It's funny that the album is called "Letters to Myself", as it feels more like this is Jesper's letter to everybody else trying to explain himself. A88 mentioned that the lyrics are what Anders would like to write - and I think the difference is that these lyrics are authentic. I think a lot of what Anders' writes about in terms of being sad or angry come from an observers standpoint and can come off as contrived or fake. My immediate thought is that these lyrics seem to be coming from Jesper's heart. I don't know if he wrote them directly but he must have had a hand in their construction. Don't get me wrong, they aren't going to win any awards for wordplay, but they feel real and genuine in a way Anders' lyrics often don't... and that makes a big difference. Overall I expected something different from this album which is why I felt a bit disappointed upon first spin. It's not a bad album - it lacks some polish, there is an overabundance of electronics and structurally I feel the songs leave a bit to be desired - but there are some nice melodies in here, Jake is solid throughout, and both Karma and Closure beat anything In Flames have put out since SOAPF for me. I'd still put SOAPF above Letters to Myself, mainly because LtM has too many choruses that sound the same and is often lacking in energy. I felt SOAPF did a great job of mixing the chorus melodies and keeping the energy level up from beginning to end. LtM obviously wasn't ever intending to do so, but from the two released singles I expected it to be, so it's not met my expectations there. Total Album Rating: 7.5/10 - a decent enough debut and I'm sure this was a cathartic process for Jesper. I very much hope they make a second album and tighten their sound up. This band could be amazing with a bit more variety and a seasoned producer giving some advice on how to enhance some of the tracks to reach their full potential. I'd be interested to know who produced this - because it sounds like for the most part the band were allowed to do whatever they wanted without any oversight. Ideally that would change next time around - if there is a next time, that is.