Sounds of a Playground Fading
8/5/2011 - Review by: Eric Compton
Older In Flames fans light up the forums with every new release thinking they're going to put out another copy of "The Jester Race" or "Whoracle" when there has been a matching number of experimental releases since 02's "Reroute to Remain". I understand people want more of what nourishes their soul and occasionally a return to form is accomplished (Megadeth, Accept), but In Flames is too noetic to move back to the past with their catalog. The time comes when you have to get off the melodic-death tit and move on already.
Personally, I wouldn't even call "Sounds of a Playground Fading" melodic thrash which is what they morphed into once the death left altogether. I'm not sure what I'd call this really, maybe progressive metal, which isn't an insult...maybe even hard rock or Gothenburg-lite.
Unfortunately, the band has begun to eat itself with some guitar work and riffs; compare "Where the Dead Ships Dwell" with scale play of the earlier "A Touch of Red". "The Attic" and "Jester's Door" (a letter from Jesper Strömblad?) attempt the mood of prior "Your Bedroom Story Is Scaring Everyone", but just don't have the spooks. "Liberation" is way too close to being a pop rock single for my tastes.
Regardless of the cannibalism, I'm a personal fan of mid-career In Flames and Anders Friden's voice in all his permutations from smooth to rough to angry to desperate. The familiar frosty (an EC favorite word) metal guitar tone is there and so are the electronic squeaks, pops and whistles that colored their mid-releases. The vocal melodies that permeate SOAPF are abundant, especially in the catchy choruses.
If you like comparisons, put it as a meld of "Soundtrack to Your Escape" and "Come Clarity" which ultimately works for me.
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