By Carl Begai
It’s been almost a decade since In Flames twisted their once-trademark melodic death metal sound into something less volatile and more mainstream. The aptly titled Reroute To Remain album signaled the change, but the band didn’t crash and burn as so many disgruntled fans had expected. On the contrary, In Flames earned themselves a legion of new fans even as some veteran followers hung on to hope, secretly admitting the band’s new musical direction wasn’t, in fact, that much of a disaster. The band’s new album, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, is by no means a return to old form, but it ranks as one of In Flames’ most diverse outings to date, seemingly hinting at the band’s past as they move forward. Personal observation, for example, has me hearing strains of the Whoracle album from 1997 on new song ‘A New Dawn’. Then there’s the mysterious and dark spoken word piece ‘Jester’s Door’ that preceeds it, which sounds like an obvious tip of the hat – lyrically more than musically – to their 1996 album, The Jester Race.
“Could be,” laughs vocalist and instigator Anders Friden, who debuted as In Flames’ frontman on The Jester Race. “I want to keep it open to interpretation, but it came about because of the lyrics. The track had to be those 10 or 12 lines. I couldn’t make it into a whole song, they were perfect the way they were. As we were recording the album, we had to come up with a song order very early on and keep it that way. Having an album feel was very important to me. It had to have a certain flow, you could almost imagine it as having an A-side and B-side, like an LP.”
“That song, for the dynamics, was meant as a breather; both ‘Jester’s Door’ and ‘The Attic’ were. For me, ‘Jester’s Door’ is an ode or a thank you to the world for giving me the opportunity to do this. I did an interview with a guy who said that I sound bitter and pessimistic on that track, and I was surprised. That was never my intention, but that’s his interpretation and that’s fine. That track could also be a beginning or an ending… I entered on The Jester Race and I now I leave through the Jester’s Door (laughs).”
“Or it could be about someone else,” Friden adds. “I’ve left it open…”
It’s worth noting that in spite of their well-earned popularity at this point of their career, some disgruntled “fans” continue to tear In Flames down at every new turn. With each album comes a new bandwagon piloted by painfully clueless bashers and naysayers, desperate for attention. Friden offers a classic example:
“Talking about Whoracle, I was checking the internet the other day because a friend of mine told me somebody had done an acoustic cover of ‘Deliver Us’, the first single from the new album. I was checking out some of the links around it – some of which were phony, obviously – and one claimed to be a link to ‘Deliver Us’ when in fact it was ‘Episode 666’ from Whoracle (laughs). I was reading the comments beneath it and people were bashing it, saying ‘This sucks! In Flames was better in the old days!’ I was laughing my fucking ass off.”
For information on Sounds Of A Playground Fading go to this location.