In Flames – Sounds of a Playground Fading
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Label: Century Media
It’s gotta be tricky for bands as they create album after album. If you change and evolve too much you run the risk of losing your fan base. If you don’t change enough you run the risk of losing your fan base. Granted along the way you do pick up new fans. With In Flames, and their latest effort, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, I think they actually fall into both camps. In Flames started as a fairly heavy and aggressive death metal band. Over the years and along their journey (complete line-up changes) they moved away from the death metal sound to a much more melodic, heavy metal approach. This has alienated some of the older fans but garnered new ones.
With Sounds Of A Playground Fading, In Flames continues the melodic speed-metal sound they have carved with all of their resent efforts. Sounds Of A Playground Fading doesn’t offer anything that new or different compared to other albums like A Sense of Purpose or Come Clarity. This, I think, has also hurt them a bit in eyes of some of the fans. Typically, only the true die hards continue to buy when every album sounds the same.
Admittedly I have not been with In Flames since the beginning. I became aware of them around their Reroute to Remain album. So to this fan, even if it doesn’t offer much in the way of being new, Sounds Of A Playground Fading is a good album. Many of the tracks, like “The Puzzle” and “Deliver Us“, offer the usual heavy, grunge speed metal of previous albums. They have the up-front guitar solos and heavy handed (and heavy footed) drumming. That combined with Anders Fridén screechy and melodic vocals, it all comes together well. On a few tracks, such as “Ropes” Anders sings much more than he screams and it works.
There are a couple tracks that are out of place though. “The Attic” tries to be a slow, story driven piece that doesn’t quite go anywhere. With the song “Liberation” they try the slow, melodic heavy rock. Almost teetering on the side of a heavy ballad-ish song with some catchy melodic riffs, it doesn’t feel like an In Flames track.
If you’ve liked the last several albums In Flames has produced, you’ll like Sounds Of A Playground Fading (even if it’s a horrible album name). If you are secretly wishing they’d go back to their death metal roots and hate their recent work, stay far away from this one.