Review Summary: Fact is, what In Flames are giving us on this release isn’t even half bad of what comes out of Jonathan Davis mouth lately.3 of 5 thought this review was well written
June 15, 2011 was the date when Swedish metal group In Flames released their highly anticipated tenth studio album “Sounds of a Playground Fading”. A month prior to the release, the debut single “Deliver Us” was released. As the album itself, the single was received with mixed opinions. Fans didn’t know what to expect as it was only one song, compared to their ninth album’s lead single “The Mirror’s Truth” which featured 3 exclusive tracks. The album itself was then released a month later, and although it wasn’t the “return to form album” most fans were waiting for, it was in every way an improvement over their ninth album, “A Sense of Purpose”.
Then in late September the band released a tour video wherein revealing that their next single would be “Where the Dead Ships Dwell” and that it would include 3 exclusive remixes of the title-track. The last time In Flames attempted anything like this was in 2004 (if you don’t include the “Alias” bonus track remix on “A Sense of Purpose” or the “Darker Times” bonus track remix on “Sounds of a Playground Fading”) with their single “The Quiet Place” which included a remix of their song “My Sweet Shadow”. Oh wait scratch that, they did make a song called "Selv vs. Selv" with the drum and bass gorup Pendulum last year! Anyways... Immediately fans would start cursing the names KoRn and Skrillex due to their collaboration on KoRn’s upcoming so called “dubmetal” album “The Path to Totality”. I fared this as well, but fact is, what In Flames are giving us on this release isn’t even half bad of what comes out of Jonathan Davis mouth lately.
On to the actual review, shall we?
The EP starts of with the album version of “Where the Dead Ships Dwell”, which in my fair opinion of one of the better songs on “Sounds of a Playground Fading”. It has like “Deliver Us” a electronic build up which the guitars follows nicely as they come along. Pretty usual for an In Flames song: catchy verses, melodic leads and a gigantic sing-along chorus. So yes, it is one of the more radio friendly material on the album, you didn’t expect that they would use “Darker Times” or “The Puzzle” as a single did you? Now we don’t want to scare away their new fanbase before they even hear “The Jester Race” or “Come Clarity”, hehe!
The first remix on the EP is by some guy I’ve never heard of before named Casper. His remix doesn’t use too much of electronic fix ups, it starts of with bits and pieces of the main guitar riff put together with some drums. It isn’t until half through the song that the electronics kicks in; unfortunately this is what kills it for me. Until now it has been a pretty interesting remix, but the over sounding keyboards replacing most if not all guitars, leaves the chorus going over it over and over again just doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe if used more time it could have turned out better, but the second half of this remix is pretty awful and is without any doubt the weakest track on the whole EP.
The second remix on the EP is by none other than the British drum and bass group the Qemists. If you were not hoping for something similar to KoRn’s “dubmetal” songs like “Get Up” and “Narcissistic Cannibal”, you’re out of luck. I for one find the Qemist being the better musicians if put up against dubstep artists like Skrillex, at least when it comes to mixing their sound with metal. Most of the actual guitar work has been replaced or hidden behind a keyboard cover of sort with a few twists and notches here and there. Compared to Caspers remix, the Qemists knows what they are doing, and their sampling of the vocals do not sound out of place at any moment. Like Skrillex contribution on KoRn songs (and his own for that matter), the chorus is one big bassfest. It fits the whole style of the remix really well, and is by far the best remix on the EP.
The third and final remix is by Kristof Bathory, the keyboard player and singer of Industrial Black Metal Acts “Dawn of Ashes” and “Urilia”. Like the Casper remix, it features most of the original song but also includes additional electronics. Most parts of the remix is actually the original song featuring an additional industrial bass overtone and some electronics. There are of course moments when totally new things comes along like in the verses where original electronics are replaced or in one of the bridges where the drums and guitars are whipped out, leaving only the vocals and the orchestration. It is a much darker remix, and you can clearly hear Bathory’s industrial roots. It is not a bad remix, it’s only quite repetitive at times. Makes it a bit of a letdown when you’re half through the song and expecting something more, but you’ve already heard everything that’s to come.
All in all this is a solid EP with interesting choices of remix artists. Each of them contributes with their own unique and special style of altering the original song, making it quite a diverse remix EP. “Where the Dead Ships Dwell” was also probably the best song of “Sounds of a Playground Fading” to remix due to its melodic structure. It is sure not classic, and not even excellent. But you need to give these guys some slack, because this EP is fun and enjoyable in every way possible, which I’m guessing was the intention of it from the start.