Sound — 8
01. "Sounds Of A Playground Fading": Definitely an excellent starting to any album. I thought it sounded so similar to "Touch Of Red" from their 2004 "Soundtrack To Your Escape" album after hearing the first riff when the band enters in full, but I still love the entire thing. Nothing bad about any of this song! 02. "Deliver Us": I watched the actual music video for this before the album was released, and I must say, it was worse than I had hoped. However, after getting the album, I played it back a couple of times, and my first belief that it was a bad song had changed. The synth intro really excites the sense, and sort of builds to a marching styled riff. The first verse is a bit of a downer to the intro that was created however. Once we reach the chorus, I feel this will be a favourite for fans to sing along with at shows. Bjorn's solo's sounds like they always do, and for me, I have no problem with this. They're just so melodic, and you feel like fist pumping through the entire thing. 03. "All For Me": First riff, instantly reminds you of the old In Flames days ("Colony" & "Clayman"). This ought to make the fans of the middle albums feel like their witnessing a return to the underground sound of old. All the way up until the verse, you'd be easily fooled into thinking old In Flames is back. In the verse, I'm not really sure what I'm listening to. It's not bad, but it doesn't sound entirely In Flames-ie at all... The chorus, has some resemblance of the old days, but with a new unknown twist on it. This track is much like old, but, in a way, it's not. 04. "The Puzzle": Straight away this reminds of the 2008 "A Sense Of Purpose" album. However, after this intro riff, the song doesn't really stand out much, and I feel like skipping it because of this. The only high point of the song would be the solo and harmonised riff which follows it. The outro is an interesting listening, but I feel goes for a tad too long. 05. "Fear Is The Weakness": Definitely a song worth listening to. It pretty much focuses as a instrumental track to me, as I don't find the lyrics and singing to stand out very much from the rest of the song. Once again, Bjorn's solo's are a stand out for me, due to the sheer simplicity of them. 06. "Where The Dead Ships Dwell": Interesting introduction, but I feel the verse's could have been better done with by Anders (vocalist). The chorus would be the high point for the entire vocal track sadly. The solo's show why Bjorn wrote the album, from the band's previous drummer, to the lead guitarist (before Niclas joined after the album was made). This song sadly, is not as great as it could have been. 07. "The Attic": The clean solo at the begin is quite a good thing to hear, because it gives a break from the usually constant fast paced albums of others. Anders lyrics, quite amusing as to how they don't rhyme. I believe this makes you pay attention to what he's singing/speaking. A pretty mellow track, not really bad. 08. "Darker Times": Intro riff and first verse, definitely not great. I was expecting something better after a slow song before it. Even Bjorn's solo's can't redeem this song in my opinion. The break before the last chorus reminds of something from Soilwork. The outro is quite amusing when it changes to blips, but overall a very disappointing track. 09. "Ropes": Intro riff, instantly love. This is something that makes me want to keep listening, but makes me feel anxious of what's to follow it. Luckily, the changing riff doesn't disrupt the songs good flow too much, and I am pleased with this. I found that if the synth in the background of the chorus was higher in volume, it would sound great. The final chorus in perspective could have been better, but it ends with the same intro riff, which makes it sound decent. 10. "Enter Tragedy": First riff sucks, second riff, love. Anders could have sounded better if he screamed more in the verse instead of tried to sing it. The chorus's backing chords should have been changed to a more melodic sound. And like previous, Bjorn's wah just gets in your pants. Not a great song in retrospective however. 11. "Jester's Door": An electronic song, if you could call it that. It's much like an letter to the fans of In Flames, however I'm not really sure what the purpose of this song was. 12. "A New Dawn": Old In Flames at it's best. This sure must bring longtime fans of the band to remember the middle albums. This is one of my personal favourites from the band. The only downside to this song would be the over eccentric chorus, too much synth! For any of the fans new to In Flames, I would highly suggest this song as a reference to the old "IF". This reminds me of the saying amongst the fans, "In Flames We Trust". And even more so, Bjorn's wah solo is just like ecstasy. How can metal be the music of the devil when this sounds so fantastic!? 13. "Liberation": The final track of the album. I've read many mixed reviews of this song, saying it's too pop influenced. In a way I would have to agree. It is a major pop song pretty much. But it's not a bad pop song by the band. there's a part in the verse that reminds me of Dream Theater for some reason. The chorus is designed to be as uplifting as they're willing. Bjorn's middle solo, mmmmm "rubs chest", this is my reaction to his entire soloing efforts. This song can either be considered good, or bad, depending on your taste. All I can say, is that apart from the solo, this is definitely not In Flames. Could this be the future of If? I hope not. Speaking form a positive stand point of the song, everything in it is great, everything besides the outro, which I feel drags on too long, and also ends abruptly.
Lyrics — 8
I had read that Anders was doing more singing in this album than screaming, luckily, I have to say that its not as bad as I originally thought. Anders is well renowned for having his unique blend of singing and screaming, and I would say that this album is well balanced. There are a few tracks in which his singing should be replaced with singing however, and thus fore ruins a section. I am proud to say however, that he still remains one of my favourite vocalists around.
Overall Impression — 8
In comparison to every other In Flames album, this has some tell tale sounds of previous ones. Particularly the middle "Colony" & "Clayman" albums, which in my mind, made the band. However, this is only prominent in a couple of tracks. IN FLAMES is a one of a kind band, and they still remain this way. The only other band to come close to In Flames sound would be Soilwork, (who happen to be friends with If). The most impressive songs from the album would be: "Sounds Of A Playground Fading", "Deliver Us", "All For Me", "Fear Is The Weakness", "Ropes", "A New Dawn". This album overall isn't as great as I would have expected from such a great band, and leaves me pondering whether or not Jesper's departure from the band was behind the lack of many exceptional songs. I still look forward to any more releases from the band in the future, and hope to catch them on tour down here in Australia. Peace out.