In Flames: Sounds of a Playground Fading

In Flames: Sounds of a Playground FadingI was slightly concerned about In Flames’ new album because of their founding guitarist Jesper Strömblad’s departure.  He was one of the 3 songwriters, and as the only founding member remaining — surely he had a strong influence over the band’s sound?

When I heard it, though, my worries dissipated.  In Flames still very much sound like In Flames.  It took me a few listens to get used to the slight twists they throw in each album, but if you’re a fan of modern In Flames — post Reroute to Remain — I think you’ll like this one.

So Björn Gelotte wrote all the music on this one, and the songwriting and the guitar playing is impressive.  There are little corners here and there that do seem a bit more simplistic, but still, it’s hard to tell that anything really has changed since the last album.  The album does seem to lean slightly more toward traditional hard rock, with some of the songs displaying more straight forward rock beats and the melodies seem more consistently accessible, with very little screaming.  Lots of guitar solos, too.

I’m just happy because this album gives me more music from the In Flames that I love, the band that marries introspective and authentic lyrics into complex and heroic metal.  Anders Fridén is a magnificent singer with tremendous range, and he’s in fine form here.  Some of their experiments don’t work — the quiet tunes like “The Attic” and “Jester’s Head” seem sketchy at best.  They just can’t seem to get ballads right, with the notable exception of “Come Clarity” from two albums ago.  But hey, ballads are not what we look for in In Flames — the propelling, pummeling metal with uplifting choruses are in ampel display here.  My stand-out tracks so far include “Sounds of a Playground Fading”, “Deliver Us”, “The Puzzle”, “Darker Times”, and “Liberation.”   I haven’t really looked at lyrics yet, but based on what I can catch so far, I’m sure I’ll be posting many of the songs in my Meaningful Songs category.

In Flames delivered yet another great album, which makes me very happy.  I highly recommend it.