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Review: In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading
In Flames
Sounds of a Playground Fading

Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 53:57
Tracks: 13
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Rating: 3.25/5

Review online: August 13, 2011
Reviewed by: Adam McAuley
Readers Rating
Sounds of a Playground Fading

Rated 3.04/5 (60.86%) (70 Votes)

Having not heard any In Flames since their Clayman release, this is my first foray into the more recent material of the band. Since I've never been as terribly thrilled by the band as many other have, I was actually surprised to obtain some enjoyment from this newest release. The vocals are far different than their earlier work, being almost entirely clean with the added ingredient of mainstream sensibility. Anders Friden actually performs this style rather well, though he is admittedly too sugary to some degree. The music makes up for its poppy nature with solid musicianship and irresistible melodies.

The problem I have with this album is actually a similar one that can be applied to their earlier material as well. The music is too simple and lacks the depth associated with what classic acts like At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity have produced during the peak of their careers. The music can be appealing on the surface, but it lacks any kind of edge to make it truly excellent. This applies to their best material like The Jester Race as much as it does Sounds of a Playground Fading. It's unfortunate that some of the best moments that band can conjure are when they mix it up and add a serene section rather than during the melodies themselves. There were a few times when I was brought to a higher state of enjoyment such as on the highlights "Fear is the Weakness" and "Where the Dead Ship Dwells", but this is counterbalanced with others that are more generic like "Deliver Us".

The music on this album is adequate, but there's a lot better melodic death metal to be found, such as New World Shadows by Omnium Gatherum. That album reaches out and attempts to push the envelope a little more than this one, while retaining a distinctly memorable aura. In Flames continues to provide music that is reasonably well performed, but doesn't provide anything interesting enough to be truly worthwhile.

Other related information on the site
Review: Clayman (reviewed by Pascal Côté)
Review: Colony (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Lunar Strain / Subterranean (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Sounds of a Playground Fading (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: The Jester Race (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: The Jester Race (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Trigger (reviewed by Brad Allis)
Review: Whoracle (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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