In Flames
Sounds of a Playground Fading

1. Sounds of a Playground Fading
2. Deliver Us
3. All for Me 
4. The Puzzle  
5. Fear Is the Weakness
6. Where the Dead Ships Dwell
7. The Attic
8. Darker Times
9. Ropes
10. Enter Tragedy
11. Jester's Door
12. A New Dawn
13. Liberation

Anders Fridén (vocals)
Björn Gelotte (guitars)
Peter Iwers (bass guitar)
Daniel Svensson (drums, percussion)
Nicklas Engelin (joined after recording the album)

Lunar Strain (1994)
The Jester Race (1996)
Whoracle (1997)
Colony (1999)
Clayman (2000)
Reroute to Remain (2002)
Soundtrack to Your Escape (2004)
Come Clarity (2006)
A Sense of Purpose (2008)

Johannes Bergion - cello (on "A New Dawn")
Örjan Örnkloo - keyboard

Anders Björler – filming, editing & directing (In The Studio/Studio Report)
Roberto Laghi - Producer
Daniel Bergstrand - producer

Released 20/6-2011
Reviewed 21/6-2011


century media

Before this album was released, the single Deliver Us was on Youtube and just for fun I kept an eye on the discussion going on to this video. While most people seems to agree with me that In Flames has taken brontosaurus steps forward with their last couple of albums when they've polished their melodic death metal to become so much more than just death metal with melodies, some people will always spend their entire day complaining about how bad everything that In Flames does today is. That they're not like they were on 'Clayman' and 'Colony' anymore, or whatever their first albums was called. And these people had decided already before hearing the entire album, with knowledge of this particular song only, that the whole album was shit. They claimed it was another blow in the face of their old fans. And came up with all kind of faults with the album, as if one song would be enough to give a fair judgement.

In Flames is one of the bands I've interviewed most times since beginning with Hallowed. Or scratch that. In Flames is THE band I've interviewed most times. I’ve been speaking with both past and present members about their entire career and future and I believe I have a decent knowledge in the idea of this band. Some say they've "sold out", but they haven't. Others say they've "betrayed" their lojal fans, which of course is rubbish. How could anyone betray somebody solely with the music they play? Last time I checked, the creator is the only one that has the right to decide how the music should evolve and no one else can claim the right to decide this. In Flames has never promised anyone to always sound like they did on 'Whoracle'. They've never put a price tag on themselves and said "if you pay us this much we will play whatever you want us to play" - they never did and never will, I guess. All that they've ever done has been to do whatever they wanted to do and what they've believed in, which has taken them to the sound of 'Sounds of a Playground Fading' with their tenth studio album. No one could claim we should have been given anything but what we've been given. Not you, not me and if you don't like it - too bad! It doesn't give you the right to judge them and smear their name. Feel free to sit in your dark room with 'Lunar Strain' and 'The Jester Race' in the speakers and be so narrow minded that you can't accept the bands evolvement and miss out on the masterpieces that this band has given us these last few years. Until we were given 'Sounds of a Playground fading'...

First out is the title track, followed by the mostly celebrated single Deliver Us before we enter the dark unknown landscapes of what comes from there. The journey that In Flames gives us this time is mostly something quite different from what we're used to from this band. This is not a band that has made their name with electronics and therefore the amount of electronics used on this album is pretty surprising. This is more like their Gothenburg brothers, Dark Tranquillity, which I've been celebrating as the "kings of electronic death metal". So here are the competition. If there is any band on this planet that can challenge the melodic constructions of Dark Tranquillity it's without doubt In Flames. 'Sounds of a Playground Fading' proves why. The melodies are as genius as the road system on Manhattan - it can make your jaw drop involuntarily. Or maybe not your jaw, but mine at least and it's not because of the straight lines they're built around that seamless goes in to the next ones. On 'Sounds of a Playground Fading' they're pretty much the opposite of this, actually. They shift character in the middle of everything and make abrupt melody changes right in the middle of a superb passage. But it's made so intelligent if you listen closely and don't only get upset due to the splitting of your favourite melodies. Because when they return, which they always seems to do, they return stronger than before and so powerful that you want to burst out "ORGASM!". There's a tingling feeling in all your body that can't be explained in words when you hear this album.

In the seventh song we're served the 'Sounds of a Playground Fading' counterpart to The Chosen Pessimist from the last album, which is called The Attic. With the counterpart of The Chosen Pessimist I mean the calm song of the album, placed in the middle of the record and dividing the heavier material before and after this song. The Attic is followed by Darker Times, probably the hardest song of this album where the verses are on the verge of grindcore and there's one of the shoutiest guitar solos ever from this band though the choruses are extremely catchy. Perhaps the best song of the album? Or maybe Ropes that follows are that? It's not as fast and heavy but has a sound that resemble Alias, the hit television show, with a slightly chameleont sound combined with technological innovations and close encounter martial art.

The vocals on this album has moved slightly further towards clear vocals instead the över aggressive growling they had in the beginning of their career - though I think they're still closer to that kind of growling than really clear vocals on most of this album. I think the best word I can use is that it's varied. Like in the tenth song of the album, Enter Tragedy, which is a song that completely shreds everything in its way (perhaps not the greatest song of the album, but probably the heaviest). Instrumentally I think they've taken a step backwards compared to the last albums. It's more straight to point this time, like an electric brush cutter and not the traditional manual hedge trimmer. The production is also heavier than its been for a long, long time. It must be more than ten years since I heard an In Flames album with this heavy production and you can hint it everywhere on the first half of the album though it's after The Attic that it really gets apparent how heavy this album is. It's almost an industrial sound on the album with all the electronics and straight to the point instruments. The melodies want something different though, and then you have the strings in A New Dawn, a song in which this band really bare their soul in a way they've never done before.

I really love this album! Despite that I've already celebrated seven albums this year as masterpieces, 'Sounds of a Playground fading' succeeds to be a highlight of the year. It could potentially make every person on this planet happy if you've liked anything by this band before (regardless of which era it comes from). It has the aggressiveness from the first albums, the melodies from the latest and is even better done than before. There are new elements in the unusual big usage of electronics, but also old elements in how they play their instruments. There are things that are fast and things that are slow. There's soft and there's heavy. Screams and clear vocals. And predictability as well as total innovation. Is it the album of the year? That's the real question. In a year where the competition is tougher than it's been for a long time, I'm sure this album will at least be a top ten album when the year is over. Seen to which other albums that's been released this year that means this is nothing but a sheer orgasm.

In Flames is hot! Their music burns like witches did during the middle ages. 'Sounds of a Playground Fading' is nothing but a real opus. It's as good as this kind of music can be. original, intelligent, "classic" and aggressive. I can't come up with a single reason not to love this!



Label - Century Media/Razzia
Three similar bands- Dark Tranquillity/Soilwork/Arch Enemy
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm
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