Sounds Of A Playground Fading review by In Flames

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  • Released: Jun 15, 2011
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 4.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 8.3 (125 votes)
In Flames: Sounds Of A Playground Fading
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Sound — 4
In Flames have always been a popular band, and why shouldn't they, they helped start an entirely new style of accessible death metal and have never slowed down since. So why then, after nearly 20 years of respectable metal do they throw this at us? It should be said, I'm not a huge fan of In Flames but I don't dislike them much either, so I'm being a bit more neutral than normal on this one. But even so, sometimes I feel like Anders Friden is deliberately taking the piss. The first two songs on the album are undoubtedly the two worst things to open an album with. Sounding more like Rammstein meets Threat Signal than In Flames's previously unique sound, the aim is obviously clear of what they're trying to do: Get more people to like them. But they don't need to do this, they don't need to weaken and soften their legacy to fit in with the crowd of child-friendly metalcore than dominates the metal charts, and its disappointing to say the least to hear that they're not turning around from this point on. That said, sonically it isn't awful. The departure of Stromblad is noticeable and Bjorn Gollette has done a pretty good job with filling the space yet I can't help feel that songs like "The Puzzle" and the single "Deliver Us" show that they really can't be bothered with their song-writing any more, the momentum is not what it once was and some of (note, SOME) the riffs sound like the wrong kind of 90's metal (think Limp Bizkit). But, the melodies are melodic, without being too family oriented like Parkway Drive, and the main traits of Gothenburg metal are still present, if buried under dense electronics and an almost continual four to the floor (Lars Ulrich-y) beat. And the less is said about the half-arsed breakdowns, the better.

Lyrics — 5
Despite the main sound of In Flames going downhill, Anders Friden is somehow still improving vocally. Although he has kinda stopped the harsh vocals almost entirely (with his current technique just not as punchy as it once was) which was one of the original defining points of In Flames, his clean vocal style has improved since I first heard him on some Metallica cover for some magazine years ago. But the thing is, its just not developed enough to be properly amazing, yet its only just good enough to make the entire farce that is this album sound a bit better. Lyrically, you can tell there wont be anything deep and overly meaningful with an album title like that. I never thought that Anders was a bad lyric writer, only that his themes were rubbish. And this album just proves that. The themes are focusing on some sort of self-betterment train-wreck, whether its a personal view from Anders or just lyrics for the sake of lyrics, they're easily written off when listening to the album.

Overall Impression — 4
In Flames already have their sound, but even without scrutiny of listeners, you can tell this is one of those ideas that should have been left in the back of Friden's brain. Dare I say that this is more accessible than "Toxicity" by System Of A Down? Well, "Toxicity" had death growls and even some actual death metal (in the loosest sense, but still). Stupid comparisons aside, unless you're one of those "with them till the end" fans or someone who thinks that harsh vocals are "unlistenable" or whatever, then there's not much of value in an album like this. Its more or less the re-affirmation of the spiral downward for the band, (this is perhaps unrelated) even Friden chopped his dreads off and started wearing flannel and a farmers hat. And the award for worst album title of the year goes to... Songs to look out for: for quick thrills, "All For Me", "The Puzzle", "Fear Is The Weakness", "The Attic", "Darker Times". The rest shouldn't be worthy of your time.

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Conor360
    why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased
    evanharte123
    the second review dude is just plopping his pants cuz anders vocals aren't metal enough for his death metal tastes
    thebigal
    I actually really enjoyed this album, yes some of the end songs were fillers but the first 3 or 4 songs were excellent. I belive both this album and sense of purpose are excellent albums and very much worth purchasing. The 2nd song on the album is terrific
    alphaburn_88
    I think both reviews are fair. I've been an In Flames fan since The Jester Race, and I have to say that, while they have completely changed their sound, I don't think it's for the worse. If you go back and listen through every album, they each transition seamlessly to the next while constantly evolving, which is a good thing to me. But more than the actual albums, I love the live shows. I think that's the one thing they do better than most bands. They take the energy and effort of their live show and put that on a studio album. If you haven't seen them live, you need to. It completely changed my perspective on a lot of songs I thought were just "ok" because I feel that energy now when I hear them. Just my opinion. I know someone will disagree, and that's fine.
    sveakung
    The first review was good the second one was stupid! go and write a review on Justin Bieber instead, because In Flames r bst!!
    Rob E
    Mr Winters and dial-a-death should read full sentences...it doesn't say this album is better than anything else In Flames have done...it says this album exhibits something better than any other album they've done. Here, look: "Better than any one album in their catalogue, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" exhibits this band's ability to weave their melodic practice through numerous styles and moods." I can only assume this is the first time Duncan Geddes listens to In Flames[/quote]
    Slaytan666
    Full marks for the first review, the second reviewer should be taking notes as to how an album is properly reviewed... I've liked every album In Flames has put out, so chances are I'll like this one, too. Still, it's too bad Jesper left.
    Loki_37
    Epi's review was okay, fair certainly. I do sort of agree, but I also don't. Duncan's was pretty nice, and I love the fact he called it their best album, and only gave it a 7.8! (Props to you, good sir) I semi-like and certainly respect what they did earlier in their careers, but I much prefer the slick procuction here.
    krvolok
    Conor360 wrote: why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased
    Yeah you're totally right,man.Let's just do fanboy 10/10/10ers and pretend to be unbiased.Critical writing,who needs that? A reviewer must,ABOVE ALL,be critical of his review subject.Reviews are based on opinions,yes,but that does not mean that you should just go and do bands and albums you like and give them 10s,just because you like them.
    SkepsisMetal
    Definitely preferred the first review. Whether you like a band or not, you can't just rip into them over something because it just makes you look childish and (as with me) readers cannot take you 100% seriously. That said, I agree with both sides of the argument. They have changed, they have adapted, they are now just riding the train they built rather than making new tracks and are in danger of becoming derailed if they carry on this way. That said, it's by no means a bad effort, I have heard much worse. Anders' vocals really are coming into their own, and if this is his new style I would not complain. I'd give it a 7/10.
    Disturbdkornkid
    evanharte123 wrote: the second review dude is just plopping his pants cuz anders vocals aren't metal enough for his death metal tastes
    And this commenter is just butthurt because Epi didn't give the album that he liked a high enough grade. Might check this out. I didn't mind A Sense of Purpose at all but if it's along the same lines of Reroute to Remain then I'm out.
    tbsska
    Why would EpiExplorer bother writing a review that entertains no discussion of the actual musical merit on the album and make uninformed comments like: "the aim is obviously clear of what they're trying to do: Get more people to like them." If you are unfamiliar with In Flames' body of work, than spare us. There is nothing much more accessible on this album than there was on Reroute to Remain in 2002. In Flames has been progressing their sound for the last 10 years with certainly a few ruts along the way, but there is a vast difference in a band maturing and evolving their sound, and a band CHANGING their sound needlessly to gain a wider listener-ship. And honestly, save your comments about Anders' hat and shirt... if you want to critique the music, critique the music. The man is nearly 40 years old, I think he can wear a f*%king hat if he wants to.
    MT_Obsidian
    ninjagayden777 wrote: ...and Epi continues his legacy as UG's #1 troll.
    This made me laugh so hard. Win.
    nitestick
    Conor360 wrote: why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased
    Why write a review for a band you like? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased. Everyone is biased, that doesn't invalidate their views.
    Senor Kristian
    Brendan.Clace wrote: He's totally right though. They have been doing that exact thing since Come Clarity. Ever since they hit the states. Get over yourself fanboy. I have been listening to these guys for 7 of those 10 years, and i know their body of work, and this is NOT In Flames.
    When the fans know the band better than the band. Are you serious? Bands evolve, it isn't news. Epi's review is terrible because he's reviewing this as a death metal album and anyone who has listened to an In Flames album released in the past 15 years would know that's way off.
    b3i
    I was very upset, when I heard the album. It sounds like rock/weak metal. Where are the solos of Bjorn? Where is the melody. Come on. I know that you can't play the same thing all the time, but they could do it better.
    Mr Winters
    Better than any one album in their catalogue, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading"
    I can only assume this is the first time Duncan Geddes listens to In Flames
    CydoniaKnight95
    krvolok wrote: Conor360 wrote: why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased Yeah you're totally right,man.Let's just do fanboy 10/10/10ers and pretend to be unbiased.Critical writing,who needs that? A reviewer must,ABOVE ALL,be critical of his review subject.Reviews are based on opinions,yes,but that does not mean that you should just go and do bands and albums you like and give them 10s,just because you like them.
    You're right but neither do you want the other extreme I'd want someone who likes the band enough to know their sound and someone who qualifies to encourage/discourage people to buy the album I mean, would you want a Beiber fan reviewing Behemoth? Yeah I thought so Personally thought the first review was on the mark
    EpiExplorer
    Slaytan666 wrote: Full marks for the first review, the second reviewer should be taking notes as to how an album is properly reviewed... I've liked every album In Flames has put out, so chances are I'll like this one, too. Still, it's too bad Jesper left.
    I think I do a good a job at telling you what you dont want to know.
    Metal_Mesh
    Brendan.Clace wrote: Super glad this album got the rating and reviews it deserved. Really good review, both of you. The new album should never have been released under the "In Flames" name. If they didn't have the back catalogue they do, I would possibly be more open to enjoying this album on its own, but I can't simply ignore what they have done in the past. This is no longer In Flames. Hasn't been really since Come Clarity.
    +1.
    Brendan.Clace
    tbsska wrote: Why would EpiExplorer bother writing a review that entertains no discussion of the actual musical merit on the album and make uninformed comments like: "the aim is obviously clear of what they're trying to do: Get more people to like them." If you are unfamiliar with In Flames' body of work, than spare us. There is nothing much more accessible on this album than there was on Reroute to Remain in 2002. In Flames has been progressing their sound for the last 10 years with certainly a few ruts along the way, but there is a vast difference in a band maturing and evolving their sound, and a band CHANGING their sound needlessly to gain a wider listener-ship. And honestly, save your comments about Anders' hat and shirt... if you want to critique the music, critique the music. The man is nearly 40 years old, I think he can wear a f*%king hat if he wants to.
    He's totally right though. They have been doing that exact thing since Come Clarity. Ever since they hit the states. Get over yourself fanboy. I have been listening to these guys for 7 of those 10 years, and i know their body of work, and this is NOT In Flames.
    ordinary_story
    I gave this one a listen and it sounds terribly bland...I'm all for change and am a big In Flames fan but this one and Sense of Purpose were just a waste of time really...absolutely terrible.
    dial-a-death
    making use of multi-faceted clean guitar work, unusual instruments and a liberal smacking of electronic garnish to this end.
    i.e it's sh*t.
    Better than any one album in their catalogue, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading"...
    Annnnnd... you're wasting my time. Nothing will defeat The Jester Race/ Subterannean.
    ninjagayden777
    ...and Epi continues his legacy as UG's #1 troll. He's not too far off on this one though...Since Come Clarity they've been going downhill. A Sense Of Purpose was ok, and this...this is bad :/
    Mark Roxx
    I thought the album was decent, but honestly it hardly lives up to A Sense of Purpose...on it's own it's not bad, but comparatively, it's weak. The upside is, I could hardly feel Jesper's absence.
    Brendan.Clace
    Super glad this album got the rating and reviews it deserved. Really good review, both of you. The new album should never have been released under the "In Flames" name. If they didn't have the back catalogue they do, I would possibly be more open to enjoying this album on its own, but I can't simply ignore what they have done in the past. This is no longer In Flames. Hasn't been really since Come Clarity.
    Megdidar
    Anytime I want to get an idea of something I read the reviews that give it the lowest score and the ones that give it the highest score and ignore everything in between.
    Panasonic3
    both great reviews. good job UG, or whatever. i now feel like i completely know what to expect before listening.
    SOADriff
    Definitely better than a Sense of Purpose, but some of the songs get repetitive i found. Solid effort though.
    False_God
    Conor360 wrote: why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased
    Just as biased as someone who likes the band?
    Patrijz
    (@second review) So the album is bad, because it isn't death metal? Hmm.. Well I don't really like the previous In Flames stuff, but I really liked the combination of melody and retain some of the heavier (yet technical and melodic) riffs. If you don't expect death metal, I think the album is just fine. But it won't make your world crumble...
    K!!LsWiTcH
    krvolok wrote: Conor360 wrote: why write a review for a band you dont even like ? No matter how hard you try your going to be biased Yeah you're totally right,man.Let's just do fanboy 10/10/10ers and pretend to be unbiased.Critical writing,who needs that? A reviewer must,ABOVE ALL,be critical of his review subject.Reviews are based on opinions,yes,but that does not mean that you should just go and do bands and albums you like and give them 10s,just because you like them.
    not true though because duncangs review was great
    krvolok
    K!!LsWiTcH wrote: not true though because duncangs review was great
    What is not true? That review is as much his opinion as EpiExplorer's is abut the album.In fact that goes to show that I am right.There is a great number of UG team reviews that were pretty fair irregardless of the author's fondness of the artist.
    Jon777
    Eh, I'm not much on the new In Flames. Give me The Jester Race and I'll be happy.
    The Wildchild
    Mr Winters wrote: Better than any one album in their catalogue, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" I can only assume this is the first time Duncan Geddes listens to In Flames
    zomg I cannot stop laughing hahahahaha
    Mr Winters
    Mr Winters and dial-a-death should read full sentences...it doesn't say this album is better than anything else In Flames have done...it says this album exhibits something better than any other album they've done. Here, look: "Better than any one album in their catalogue, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" exhibits this band's ability to weave their melodic practice through numerous styles and moods."
    Whoops, you're right, sorry :$
    JB95
    I liked In Flames more when he was screaming, since that was what he was good at. Still, he struggles a bit when performing live. But I guess that single I heared the other day wasn't too bad. Even though I didn't hear a single scream.
    EpiExplorer
    napalm890 wrote: I can see why people would assume the second reviewer is bias when he doesn't know how to form a paragraph. Like, really? Just solid walls of text?
    I wrote it as paragraphs when I did the review, must be UG's word formating. If you actually look at my back catalog, you'll just stay schtum right there.
    Lion_Slicer
    Both reviews were pretty good; I realize that the new album isn't going to break ground the way their early stuff did, but still has potential to be very enjoyable. I was in fact pleasantly surprised by "Deliver Us" so this sounds like it's worth listening to for sure. Which do I miss most besides Jesper... Anders' dreads or non-retarded album titles?
    Charlie4
    Objectivity is what makes a review worth reading because then it's more accurate imo (something which is often missing here on UG). Have not heard the album so can't comment on that yet, however change doesn't have to be a bad thing, no musician who loves his art wants to make the same music/album over and over so don't expect them to. Hopefully the gap left by Jesper wasn't too big? Either way, In Flames and we are waiting for him to sort out his stuff and come back cause he is a cornerstone of the band imo.