Sound — 4
In Flames album. This album, is... The beginning of the end for melodeath. In Flames has truly lost their might and their latest record symbolizes something more than just In Flames officially sucking. In Flames where the beasts of Melodeath, they were the guys taking metal to a new level. But that's all gone now, melodeath giants have killed themselves and In Flames is using pop layering for their choruses. All the majesty that was In Flames has literally gone down in flames. I am sorry to say it but these guys are no longer relevant. And melodeath as a genre is starting to lose its relevance. This album starts off with a quiet and calm acoustic solo at the beginning of "Sounds Of A Playground Fading". This song just reeks of sadness and it comes across as almost pathetic with it's poppish chorus. This song, is clearly not In Flames. But the title suggests something. It suggests that the playground and childish joy of In Flames is officially over. The playground has faded away and I think that as a consequence melodeath is going to start disappearing from mainstream metal. That is not to say that melodeath is over, there are still mindblowing acts like Frozen Infinity and Torchbearer, acts that have not yet reached great popularity/gotten a wikipedia page. In fact I think that melodeath will live on for centuries because the musical style is so complex and evolved it would be hard for them to die off. But still, now that the giants are effectively dead melodeath is going to start losing its popularity and it will be replaced, probably by metalcore, but more on that later. After the lead track comes "Deliver Us", a song with vocals that are often borderline clean. This song features another crappy chorus with poppish layering but even worse is the songs intro. The beginning of this song features a section that is almost trip-hop, but this won't be the biggest offense on the album. Still this trick is rather lame, there is some solid bass and guitar work but the vocals are just sad. They are pretty much clean in the chorus and I feel that In Flames has truly gone too commercial. The third track is called "All For Me", it with the fourth track "The Puzzle" are among the better tracks on this record, at least it does not make me feel physically I'll and sad for In Flames. Still the choruses are fairly cheesy and makes me very sad at the glory that has been lost. They do prove that good things can be done with this 4 man In Flames lineup, if all the tracks on the album were more or less like this one I would be fairly happy, but unfortunately they are not. And In Flames committed sins to atrocious on this album for me to ever really love their new releases. One of the tings they do on both of these tracks is that they have really cool beginning but then the last minute of both of these songs is just downright pathetic and limp. These songs show good things can be done, but they probably will not happen. The fifth track is called "Fear Is The Weakness", and it starts off with a really dull acoustic intro that is just weak. After the intro there is a reasonable melodic passage but then the atrocity comes. The lyrics, are literally a piece of emo poetry. "You, you are leaving me". It's like something an emo metalcore band would say. This is not In Flames. Then there is some hilarious hypocrisy where they sing about how they are refinding themselves because they lost their identity. Well guess what In Flames! Your last album was a lot closer to your identity than this mash up of trip hop metalcore and melodeath! This album is nothing like you guys. When you say in this song "We Have been on the same road for too long" you act like its a bad thing, but its not! On your original road you guy's were gods! Now you are just some stupid old farts who are trying to make money. The sixth track is called "Where The Dead Ships Dwell", this is one of the most atrocious song as it features clean vocals that just do not fit the whole In Flames vibe. The other problem with this song is that there are breakdown type things that are literally trip hop riffs! Now there's nothing wrong with trip hop but In Flames is not at all trip hop and never should be trip hop! However it will get worse. "The Attic" is one of the two worst songs on this album, it disgusts me, it makes me feel physically ill, it is nearly as bad as "Dancing Queen". Yes, that bad. It starts of with a stupidly simple non melodic trip hop type riff and then there are some stupid clean vocals that make me forget that I am listening to In Flames. Then a string section kicks in and you expect it to turn into an epic ballad, but it doesn't. This song just stays as a dull and flat piece that just curdles my ears and makes that open third floor window right next to me look very promising. When I heard this song I almost cried, how far can one band fall in just a few years! The eighth track, "Darker Time" just starts to make up for it, this is one of the better songs on this album and it is another song that proves that good things can be done with the new 4 man In Flames line up. Of course the chorus is a bit poppish, however on this song it actually kind of works because the rest of the song is awesome and high powered. So this is one of the few songs where the chorus actual lifts me up because the song itself is awesome. This is probably the best song on the album because at the end it does not die off and start to suck. Still the solo sounds like it was stolen from Zakk Wylde, it could do with more melody. The final chorus to this song is awesome. I can truly tell you that this is the one song on this album that would fit perfectly into Clayman. Of course the very next track is such a horrific abomination that the glory of "Darker Time" is just wiped away and pooped on. There is a cool intro, but then the song, it devolves into... A pop song? This song is a bad pop clich with a cool intro. The vocals sound whining and weak. There is no glory in this song, there are just weak and wussy vocals with a solo that comes across as limp. This track is an utter abomination and on it's own it nearly wipes away the glory of "The Jester Race". The band that recorded that album was significantly better than whatever this abomination is. The next song is "Enter Rage", it is very aggressive and has a cool sound that features heavy drumming and comes across very nicely. However it dies off when it comes time for the solo. For some reason the majority of the solos on this album just feel, lifeless. They feel weak and they fee like they have no passion behind them pushing the onto the next level. That's really one of the biggest issues with the songs on this album, the solos are dispassionate. Its very sad. Overall though this is a good track. Then there is the horror and doom of "Jester's Door" where In Flames just pees on their old classic and creates a new overdubbed track with sad clean vocals that are literally spoken for the first half of the song. Now this would be okay if the next part was really cool and blew my head off but it's not and it doesn't. It just transforms into some crappy trip-hop breakdown with a slightly crunchy guitar that isn't even that melodic. "Jester's Door" is a pathetic song and one of the worst on this album, it is truly disgusting. The next to last track "A New Dawn" is mediocre and it is extremely cheesy. In fact a lot of the songs on this album are extremely cheesy. I mean "I can't wait to see the sun rise again?". That is the cheesiest thing that I have seen all day! Then there are some meh clean vocals. However the guitar work on this song is sick and there are some great drum fills. In fact one of the things In Flames that has not deteriorated in quality is the killer drums. There is an acoustic part in this song that comes out of nowhere that takes away from a lot of the energy that was there. This is not a good thing for the song because the energy in this song was just about to takeover the cheese. But it just missed. The final track of this album is even more cheesy than "A New Dawn". "Liberation" starts off with some ridiculously weak and whining clean vocals that come across as pathetic. The guitar riff is also simple and not at all melodic or mind blowing. Then theirs the chorus with weak clean vocals. I will spare you the horror from having it describe to you.
Lyrics — 3
The overall lyrics are very cheesy and have none of the sheer brutality of In Flames previous work. While some of the songs are like corny 80ies anthems others are metalcore clichs. A few of the tracks do have decent lyrics however, the most notable one being "Darker Time", which revisits the brutal awesomeness of In Flames's past. The overall singing is unbelievably limp with In Flames experimenting with wussy clean vocals that do not at all work for this band. All in all In Flames comes across as a shdaow of its former self and has little of its former metal glory.
Overall Impression — 4
Overall this album is a failure and an abomination to all that is in flames. While this album definitely shows some promising songs and shows that the 4 man lineup can work they have some work to do before they re enter their glory days. All in all this album does not even feel like an In Flames album. The majority of the songs here are not worth listening too because some of them barely qualify as music. The synthesiser bits are truly depressing. There is hope, but not much for In Flames. May the gods of metal bless this band, may they rest in peace.