In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)
┬ęCentury Media Records


  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

I like pleasant surprises. They make me happy. This album is a pleasant surprise. It makes me happy.

I had two main complaints about 2008's A Sense of Purpose. One, it had no balls whatsoever. Two, the vocals were atrocious. At that time I was quite certain that In Flames was done for. The reality was that our favorite Swedes who had helped mold the genre known as melodic death metal had been taken captive by the metalcore movement of the mid-2000's. Well, it's 2011 and I'm happy to proclaim that Sounds of a Playground Fading fixes both these issues. Well at least, it tries hard to.

Sounds of a Playground Fading, like earlier mentioned; is a pleasant surprise because In Flames made the smart decision of borrowing influences from their earlier albums and toning down on the generic, congruous metalcore instrumentality. There is a larger prominence of power to be heard which notably contrasts what we heard in 2008. The excessive screeching vocals have also been toned down just enough that it no longer slices through the listener's ear drums like a chainsaw through warm butter - which is an exaggerated (yet valid) complaint on Come Clarity and A Sense of Purpose.

The guitar work has been vastly improved as well. Riffs are generally heavier than what we were used to on A Sense of Purpose and there is a greater abundance of solos which, to my surprise all sounded original and fit their respective songs seamlessly.

Still with these improvements; this album could have been so much more if the men of In Flames would just push themselves that extra mile. I know, you know and they know that the talent is there as well as the demand for it. For instance; most of the drumming on Sounds of a Playground Fading (though well fitted) sounds stale and at times, dull. Almost all metalheads love thrash beats and blasts. Why not use them a bit? There's a lot more to a drum kit than a hi-hat, a bass drum and a snare. Let's hear some percussive acrobatics in the future. 

Sure In Flames will never be the same as they once were on Whoracle and The Jester Race. Metal fans are going to bitch about this until the end of time. Let it go guys. There are enough other bands out there to fill in the gaps. I mean, at least In Flames aren't failing as bad as say... [Metallica].

Before we part, dear reader; a BIG complaint that I have on this album though, is the lyrics. They're damn terrible and they take cheesy to a whole new level. With that having been said; good job to In Flames for the improvement.



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