1. Sounds of a Playground Fading
2. Deliver Us
3. All for Me
4. The Puzzle
5. Fear Is the Weakness
6. Where the Dead Ships Dwell
7. The Attic
8. Darker Times
10. Enter Tragedy
11. Jester’s Door
12. A New Dawn
Release Date: 20 June 2011 – Century Media
First release for swedish melo deathers In Flames after founding member Jesper Strömblad left the band cause of continuing alcohol problems. So it was only the part of Björn Gelotte to do the songwriting. Does this mean a loss in quality for In Flames in the now? The new album „Sounds of a Playground Fading“ will answer that now.
It’s the titletrack’s job to start it. Silent semi-acoustic guitar intro leads into a melodic guitar part before the song changes into a typical In Flames midtempo smasher. A real good refrain full of harmonies impressing me. The trademarks riff-vocals-riff-vocals and the well known voice of Anders Friden are present all the time in this song. An In Flames hymn per excellence with one of the best refrains ever heard by them. Big start !!
Computer samples together with a catchy guitar riff start „Deliver Us“. In the refrain we could believe we listen to a melodic hard rock act. But the sounds that lead to this refrain and leaves it are
in best modern metal tradition. Melodic guitar solo in between. A bit of pop appeal…not bad.
„All for Me“ again opens with a semi-acoustic guitar. A mighty guitar riff in Devin Townsend line follows. More aggressive, even tragic vocals spread the words here. Also a midtempo song with a break for slower vocals combined with elegian guitar part.
The album takes up speed with „The Puzzle“. Fast and furious song. Weird vocals and high speed drums mean the essence here, only interrupted by another melodic short guitar solo. Fans of older In Flames will like it. But also here the band don’t forget to put harmonies on the right places. And…the song even fades out with a dreamful instrumental part..guitars, keys and drums. Very interesting song.
Only for the weak ? No…but „Fear is the weakness“. Wonderful opening sequence again in tradition of melodic hard rock bands. The drums push the song and Friden’s vocals takes it away from pop cheese rock. Very good guitar work, very melodic. The refrain is good to remember like in most of the songs, so that we can say that the new songs will work brilliant live for the fans to sing ’em.
„Where the Dead Ships Dwell“ is another traditional In Flames Song, supported by strange sound elements during the guitar lines and vocals. The guitar solo this time is changing from frickel sound to twin harmonies. This song is….modern. For me the vocals of Anders Friden give this song a special feeling. The best song so far….but unusual for In Flames…or not?
Acoustic Intros seems to be the new fable of In Flames…so „The Attic“ starts that way too. Followed by whispered vocals. A kind of psychedelic ballad. This song is…well..progressive Rock.
I am always waiting for the big bang but the song fades out like it began. Totally untypical for In Flames…but it has it’s moments.
Back on speed with „Darker Times“. Sounds a little like Nevermore with In Flames vocals. Killer refrain !! Several guitar solos breaks it, but straight forward is king here. Brilliant live song for sure.
In the end with some scratch samples.
„Ropes“ remembers in the beginning to some melodic power metal acts. And…wow..we can hear some clear vocals here. Is that In Flames ? Yes…but in a light version. Modern art of rock with some progressive elements. Sure…Friden can’t hide his typical vocal arrangements all the time. But most of the time in clean style..and thats new. Fresh element…not bad.
With „Enter Tragedy“ the band finds the way back to older days. A smasher…direct hit. Very fast and crazy. Without any refrain that catches the ears but with pumping bass lines. Curious arrangements.
In „Jesters Door“ first impression is fear…an opened door…spoken words..kind of a flute. After that soundtrack like synthie parts appear. And after a minute it stops….and the song (or better a short interlude) ends…and lead to…
a power metal riff in „A new dawn“. Shotgun bass and riffs make you stomp your feet. The aggressive vocals, background keys in the refrain and a wall of power makes it to an real In Flames hymn. Excellent drum work by the way. A break of elegy guitars and some violins slow it down…only to continue with the mighty sound of power. But it breaks again….and arrives in the stomping smashing part of the beginning. Perfect arranged song with lots of things to explore and great in music and vocals.
„Liberation“, the last song, starts with clean vocals (yes..again clean vocals). Sounds like a slow hard rock song from Winger or someone else. Only in the refrain the song explodes a little more. This definetely has nothing more to do with melo death like in the earlier years. Pop elements, even your ladies could like this song. Well…the song is not a bad one…but it is not what lots of people expect from In Flames. Anyway…another new element in the bands history. Maybe this song could be a wildcard for the american charts?
Let me say that for me there is no loss in quality cause of the line up changes. Even more the band put some new and fresh elements in their sound. Better than some of their last outputs but I am sure that lot of fans of the old albums will partly hate „Sounds of a Playground Fading“.
But isn’t it allowed for a band to continue their progression and not remain standing on the same step like 10 years before? This album is a very good album and one of the best in the In Flames famous history. It can bring the band a lot of new fans….hope they won’t lose the old ones.
Review by Kerb
BUY THIS ALBUM: In Flames – Sounds of a Playground Fading