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In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 5.75
Musicianship 7.5
Lyrics 6
Production 8.5
Creativity 6
Lasting Value 6
Reviewer Tilt 7
Final Verdict: 67%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.75
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 9
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.75
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 5
Average: 88%

In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading

Reviewed by: Nick Gerli (08/24/11)
In FlamesSounds of a Playground Fading
Record Label: Century Media
Release Date: June 21, 2011


In Flames, through supplementing the brooding and technical elements of death metal with an increasing use of harmonious guitar stylings and keyboard-laden atmospherics, served as one of the principal innovators of melodic metal throughout their twenty-year existence. With over three million albums sold worldwide and a litany of artists, such as Trivium, As I Lay Dying, and Darkest Hour, that draw direct influence from their earlier work, In Flames has achieved both commercial and artistic success in spades.

Sounds of a Playground Fading is the band’s tenth studio album and first without guitarist, founding member, and principal songwriter Jesper Strömblad. Strömblad, to the dismay of many long-time fans, pushed In Flames into more melodic and mainstream territory throughout the last decade, especially on their previous release A Sense of Purpose. This stylistic shift came at the cost of originality and Sounds of a Playground Fading, written by guitarist Björn Gelotte, continues this theme by embracing songs that struggle to straddle the line between tastefully accessible and generic.

Title track “Sounds of a Playground Fading” kicks off the album with a gloomy interlude suggestive of the opening minutes of Metallica’s “One” before breaking into a driving guitar riff that bridges the gap to an orchestrated and melodic chorus. Lead single “Deliver Us” follows and is easily the low point on the album, utilizing a riff that could have been lifted from an early 2000s Sevendust album along with a painfully boring and unimaginative chorus. Vocalist Anders Fridén’s delivery sounds as flat and monotone as the song’s lackluster instrumentation, as he unsophisticatedly belts lyrics that read like the disparate scribblings of a gothic adolescent.

By the third or fourth track of Sounds of a Playground Fading In Flames’ rinse, lather, and repeat approach to song construction wears thin. “All For Me”, “Where the Dead Ships Dwell”, and “Darker Times” are nearly indistinguishable from each other as each employ nu-metal style guitar riffing atop simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo arrangements. Fridén’s vocals continually crop up as a principal point of redundancy, sounding terribly uniform throughout many of the album’s choruses. At no point is this clearer than on “Where The Dead Ships Dwell,” where Fridén belts “Feel like I was running an endless mile/Last candle burns and I’m dying inside/All of this will turn to ash, a change for a peace of mind” in a repeatedly monotone and impassionate fashion.

Despite a large helping of generic tracks, Sounds of a Playground Fading contains several gems and improves as it moves along. “The Puzzle” storms out of the gate with bludgeoning guitar riffs and rapid fire drumming and keeps at a fever pitch until succumbing to a beautiful minute-long outro. “Enter Tragedy” strikes a similar chord and effortlessly balances melodic guitar harmonies with heavy metal angst while “Liberation,” albeit poppy, is a nice change of pace and a much better attempt at accessibility than the radio rock approach of the album’s earlier tracks. But In Flames’ shining achievement comes with “New Dawn,” a near six-minute epic that utilizes a cello, violin, and viola to strike a grandiose and uplifting tone in what stands as a stirring amalgamation of the best aspects of melodic metal.

Sounds of a Playground Fading is a Jekyll and Hyde affair, sacrificing originality for radio-friendliness on tracks such as “Deliver Us” but honing catchy melodies and an aggressive wallop in efforts like “Enter Tragedy” and “New Dawn.” This duality is frustrating and could potentially ruin the album for those with a highbrow slant, however long time fans of melodic heavy metal will find a lot to like in Sounds of a Playground Fading and should give it a listen.

Recommended If You LikeAtreyu; Sevendust; Trivium


www.myspace.com/inflames
 
Displaying posts 1 - 7 of 7.
01:28 PM on 08/25/11
#2
Spencer Control
Now we are all sons of bitches
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Sort of unrelated, but I adore the intro to One by Metallica.
03:45 AM on 08/26/11
#3
Nick Gerli
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Yeah, me too.
07:17 AM on 08/27/11
#4
TwelveTribes230
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At first I was pretty apprehensive about this release, but I warmed up to it quickly. I think It deserves better rating and please fix the RIYLs Sevendust...really? more like Soilwork and Dark Tranquility
10:54 AM on 08/27/11
#5
Nick Gerli
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In Flames has definitely delved into nu-metal territory in some of their recent songs. I think the comparison is apt. Generic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structures that flow between nu-metal style riffage and plain, melodic choruses? Sounds like Sevendust to me.
01:14 PM on 08/27/11
#6
TwelveTribes230
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In Flames has definitely delved into nu-metal territory in some of their recent songs. I think the comparison is apt. Generic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structures that flow between nu-metal style riffage and plain, melodic choruses? Sounds like Sevendust to me.
More Metalcore than Nu-metal. You don't hear many solos or Gothenburg style riffs coming from Sevendust do you?, because this album is filled with them especially solos..theirs practically a solo on every song.
11:31 AM on 08/28/11
#7
iebeltje
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cd is a bit disappointing unfortunately.
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