|Review: In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading|
|Sounds of a Playground Fading|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2011
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Review online: June 10, 2011
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:Sounds of a Playground Fading
Say what you want about Sweden's In Flames, they are one of the most important mainstream metal bands on the circuit, and fortunately, their first record for Century Media, the varied Sounds of a Playground Fading, does nothing to alter the fact. Pumped full of newfound energy thanks to the departure of Jesper Stromblad, In Flames have produced their most honest sounding album in quite some time, with elements of all previous releases seeping into tracks such as "Fear Is the Weakness", "Where The Dead Ships Dwell" and "Darker Times". Principally, the album floats between their last, A Sense of Purpose, and Reroute to Remain, with a handful of passages and ideas, such as many riffs in "A New Dawn" and "Enter Tragedy", sounding very much like outtakes from Come Clarity or Clayman. There are even some acoustic parts that bring to mind The Jester Race, something I'm sure bound to please long-standing followers.
One of the best songs they have written kicks off the album, the startling title track, which opens with subtle acoustics before bursting into epic harmonies and kick-ass riff work. Anders Friden spends most of the album singing (though his voice is heavily-veiled in aggression, with a few moments of unbridled force and power), and despite the catchiness of every track here, his performance is intense and effective. The chorus of the title track won't fail to send shivers down your spine, especially with those melodic guitars caressing your ears behind. For once, the band have got a top-notch production job that is heavy but condensed, and every track has something different to offer. Only issues are with the post-modern attempts such as "Jester's Door" and "The Attic" (two rather pointless interludes), and the album closer, "Liberation", which is a gothic pop-ballad that does very little.
Apart from that, there is some killer material here, and as a result, Sounds of a Playground Fading will appeal to the vast majority of their fan-base. Welcome back, sirs.
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