IN FLAMES — Sounds of a Playground Fading

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IN FLAMES - Sounds of a Playground Fading cover
3.06 | 22 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2011

Tracklist

1. Sounds of a Playground Fading (4:44)
2. Deliver Us (3:30)
3. All For Me (4:31)
4. The Puzzle (4:34)
5. Fear Is the Weakness (4:07)
6. Where the Dead Ships Dwell (4:27)
7. The Attic (3:18)
8. Darker Times (3:25)
9. Ropes (3:42)
10. Enter Tragedy (3:59)
11. Jester's Door (2:38)
12. A New Dawn (5:52)
13. Liberation (5:10)

Total Time 53:57

Line-up/Musicians

- Anders Fridén / Vocals
- Björn Gelotte / Guitars
- Peter Iwers / Bass
- Daniel Svensson / Drums, Percussion

with

- Johannes Bergion / Cello
- Örjan Örnkloo / Keyboards, Samples

About this release

Century Media Records, June 15th, 2011

Release dates:

June 15, 2011 – Sweden
June 17, 2011 – Germany, Austria, Switzerland & Norway
June 20, 2011 – UK, Benelux, France, Greece, Denmark, Portugal
June 21, 2011 – North America, Spain, Italy
June 22, 2011 – Finland, Hungary
June 24, 2011 – Australia, New Zealand

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and adg211288 for the updates

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IN FLAMES SOUNDS OF A PLAYGROUND FADING reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

adg211288
Sounds of a Playground Fading is a 2011 album release from the successful Swedish metal band In Flames, their tenth full-length to date. The burning question here is if this album is really by ‘In Flames’ though. Just compare the line-up of musicians on this album to the group’s 1994 debut Lunar Strain – yes that’s right, not one constant member. Sounds of a Playground Fading may have the In Flames name stamped on it, but for all intents are purposes this isn’t the same band anymore, and that goes for sound as well as membership.

But whatever you may think about what I just explained, this review will be based upon the album’s own merits. The style of the album is best described as Melodic Metal, although the purists might insist on an Alternative Metal tag instead. It’s very much a different sound to how the group started though, and does not contain many hints of the melodic death metal sound that they helped pioneer. Vocalist Anders Fridén generally sticks to his clean vocals, which sound pretty good against the melodic yet still metal backing of guitars, and much better than those I’ve heard him do on other releases. His still uses his growl, but in very strict moderation, though there are several moments where it seems as if he is itching to go into one, but never really gets there.

I must admit of a personal level here, I am certainly not In Flames biggest fan. In the past I have accumulated three of their albums (The Jester Race/Black-Ash Inheritance, Colony and Come Clarity) and actually only spent a grand total of £1.50 on their music, and on their prior album A Sense of Purpose from 2008 I took one listen to the lead single The Mirror’s Truth and promptly began to ignore them since I literally couldn’t stand it. So it’s a big surprise to me just how much I enjoy Sounds of a Playground Fading.

The band seems to have really found a new niche with this album. Fridén’s vocals, while not exactly powerful, are fitting to the style and the songs are generally enjoyable and there’s a distinct lack of any really poor moments, although the mostly spoken word track Jester's Door could easily have been left off and All For Me is a bit of a downturn after the opening title track and the lead single Deliver Us, which are two of the best on the album. This is commercial metal yes, and I can’t honestly say that this is going to meet with approval of fans of ‘In Flames’ (bringing us back to that different band thing), but the album is actually done well enough as far as commercial metal goes. I wouldn’t call Sounds of a Playground Fading a masterpiece or anything close to it, but this is actually one of the more enjoyable In Flames releases I’ve heard. That might be because I was never really wrapped up in their melodic death metal stuff though.

There are some nice surprises on the album, such as the symphonic feel to parts of A New Dawn and the strange yet enjoyable The Attic. The guitar work of the album is not exactly worth writing home about, but there are some nice parts on offer here and there. There are even a few progressive touches to parts of it that spice it up some.

The biggest problem with it though is that after awhile it does get a bit stale and samey. The aforementioned The Attic and A New Dawn along with Enter Tragedy, which features more growls and has good groove to give it more identity, throw things up in the air a bit, but other than that the album does feel extremely formulated. It’s difficult to get a sense of identity from many of the songs. For its length I’d have liked a few more surprising tracks out of the total thirteen on offer.

This is an easy album to listen because of its commercial nature. It’s inoffensive, if you get my meaning. But how does one begin to even rate an album such as this? As an In Flames album from an objective point of view this will be seen as very poor in most cases, after all even after all these years when I think of In Flames the first thing I think of is melodic death metal. I already wrote a fair bit about my feelings about the fact that this is like a different band compared to when they started, even if most of the members that were a part of albums such as Colony and Clayman are still here. The fairest way to rate this is as a different band that just happens to share a name with a popular melodic death metal band (even though that band had been heading in this direction for several albums). With that in mind I find Sounds of a Playground Fading a solid but faulted release. A few more songs that broke the mould and the score would have got pushed up a bit though. Hopefully though they’ll continue with this style and turn up a real masterpiece next time.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 7.3/10)

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