In Flames
Sounds of a Playground Fading


3.5
great

Review

by Alucard125 USER (8 Reviews)
August 11th, 2011 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


With the departure of Jesper Strömblad from In Flames in early 2010 the band lost their primary song writer. The ‘Making Of’ DVD for A Sense of Purpose records a band truly going through the motions of creating an album, perhaps not ironically capturing the bands wide selection of whiskey on display in IF Studios. They seemed tired, and lacking in inspiration. With their new material largely sourced from guitarist Björn Gelotte, Sounds of a Playground Fading sees new life in In Flames.

From the very beginning of the album, the listener is greeted with a blend of beautiful acoustic sections and heavy riffs. The opening title track displays such a trend, with almost a minute of harmonies introducing the album. These sections, appearing in tracks such as ‘All For Me’ and ‘Fear Is The Weakness’, bring back memories of phenomenal tracks like ‘Moonshield’ and ‘Jester Script Transfigured’. Whilst not equalling the quality of career highlights such as these, such pieces show the band recognising their past, and amalgamating influences from all of their albums. Indeed, all throughout SoaPF are tracks that would feel at home within the bands’ previous works. With less glossy production the meandering riff of ‘Ropes’ reminds the listener of Clayman, whilst the first single ‘Deliver Us’ could have been a track from Soundtrack To Your Escape. The continuation of ASoP is very obvious in places too, with ‘Enter Tragedy’ and ‘The Puzzle’ sounding like better moments of the previous album. Even with such a wide collection of sounds, the album still flows without hindrance and sounds like a complete work.

Of course there isn’t a complete reliance on the past in the creation of the new album. The sounds that began with A Sense of Purpose have been continued, but with far more exciting results. The band have finally begun utilising the use of electronics present in Reroute To Remain and Soundtrack properly, with it no longer sounding awkward or unnecessary. The music is no longer too heavy for it to work, as in the aforementioned Soundtrack, and is what makes album highlights ‘Where Dead Ships Dwell’ and ‘A New Dawn’ so memorable. Whilst vocalist Anders Fridén’s voice has divided many In Flames fans, his aggressive style of singing rather than screaming suits the music well. The ability for the listener to sing along to the music, particularly the fantastic choruses of the title track and ‘Where Dead Ship Dwell’ add a great deal of enjoyment to the music. His performance is not entirely consistent however, with tracks like ‘Deliver Us’ showing why many consider him a hindrance to the band.

Unsurprisingly therefore the album still lacks in several areas, most notably in guitar work. With Come Clarity there was must focus on the twin guitar solos that were so prevalent in the bands earlier works, and to a large extent they managed to recreate the sound very well. In SoaPF however, much of the guitar work seems much simpler, with riffs often being repetitive as with ‘Darker Times’ and ‘All For Me’. Such examples make it difficult to differentiate between tracks on the first few listens. Additionally, in many cases the solos do not flow from the chorus, leading to awkward sounding transitions. ‘Deliver Us’ and ‘Where Dead Ships Dwell’ in particular suffer from this.

Instrumentally, the main let down is Daniel Svensson's drumming. Whilst not bad in any particular way, there are few exciting moments where he showcases his talent as in Come Clarity. Instead, he seems content to do the bare minimum, making sure that he does no more than seeing each song through to the end. It is the only area where the production fails also - the guitars and bass are all perfectly balanced, with the vocals not overshadowing the music. However, the drums lack any real impact in terms of both performance and sound.

Finally, for those who are fans of the bands softer tracks they seem to include in their albums, there is nothing really here to satisfy that desire. Although the album is ‘softer’ as a whole when compared to Colony or Reroute To Remain, there is no track like the beautiful ‘Jester Script Transfigured’, ‘Dawn of a New Day’, or in this authors opinion the semi-endearing ‘Chosen Pessimist’. Instead there is ‘The Attic’ and ‘Jester’s Door’, which serve more as interludes than proper songs, and album closer ‘Liberation’. This track sees In Flames leaving their dignity at the door and producing an almost pop-metal song with cringe-worthy lyrics, unfortunately ending a very good album in a lacklustre way.

In conclusion, for those who are willing to accept that In Flames has moved on, then Sounds of a Playground Fading finds the band finally sounding comfortable with themselves for the first time in a while. With new inspiration and a much polished new sound, the album exceeds expectations and proves that In Flames can still put out material of worth.

Recommended Tracks:
Sounds of a Playground Fading
Where Dead Ships Dwell
Ropes
A New Dawn



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user ratings (912)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Palindromic (3)
    While by no means a contender with the Jester Race, or even Clayman, Sounds of a Playgroun...

    when_darkness_falls (3.5)
    The Swedish lord of melodic metal make a brave and successful return after A Sense of Purp...

    Magnus Altkula STAFF (4)
    Playing the maximum out of their current sound, In Flames have created yet another excelle...

    johnny of the Well (3.5)
    An improvement from their last album, but is In Flames's new release good on its own terms...

  • Trey Spencer STAFF (3)
    The loss of Jesper Strömblad hasn’t altered In Flames’ vision in the slightest. In fa...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Alucard125
August 11th 2011


535 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know there are a few of these already, but felt like writing it anyway. Please comment and help improve.

KILL
August 11th 2011


71955 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

m/

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

fsharptrit0ne
August 11th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

you like this kill?

KILL
August 11th 2011


71955 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dude they are bringing true metal back

fsharptrit0ne
August 11th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

oh yea thats right

Tyrael
August 11th 2011


20900 Comments


Dude true metal m/

Good review!

fsharptrit0ne
August 11th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Jester Race has nothing on this yea

Tyrael
August 11th 2011


20900 Comments


Whoracle is their best

fsharptrit0ne
August 11th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

close 2nd

KILL
August 11th 2011


71955 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ugh

fsharptrit0ne
August 11th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I'm the moonshield

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2011


31362 Comments


From the very beginning of the album, the listener is greeted with a blend beautiful acoustic sections and heavy riffs.


Blend of

The band has finally begun utilising the use of electronics present in Reroute To Remain and Soundtrack properly,


Have finally begun, or; has finally begun to utilize

screaming suites the music well


Suits

Such tracks make it difficult to differentiate between tracks on the first few listens.


Try to avoid repeptition, as in "tracks and "tracks" so close together. Something like "such tracks make it difficult to differentiate between one another on the first few listens"


producing a almost pop-metal song


an almost


Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Alucard125
August 11th 2011


535 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers Deviant, will make changes after dinner. This has nothing on Whoracle or Jester Race, but it was far better than I expected to be considering how average ASOP was.

Gmork89
August 11th 2011


5516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree, it was better than expected.

Yuma310
August 11th 2011


1656 Comments


i need to get this as soon as possible

Hawks
August 11th 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's decent.

simonpettersen
August 11th 2011


272 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I totally LOVE "The Puzzle" although nobody else does. >< wtf

Darkvoid67
August 11th 2011


383 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I like the puzzle. Anyway, Jesper Stromblad had not been the band's primary song writer since Clayman. That is probably why they changed their sound quite so much

renegadestrings
August 11th 2011


1450 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah I love The Puzzle too. The ending is great

Jesuslaves
August 11th 2011


4658 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm been jamming to darker times a lot lately. excellent chorus.



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