Sounds Of A Playground Fading

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By Carl Begai

Being as I’m one of the dinosaurs that got into In Flames when they were “just” some loud little death metal band out of Sweden – it was The Jester Race album in 1996, to be exact – I was as put off as my old school brethren when the band decided to get all polished and modern on Reroute To Remain in 2002. In the long run, however, I discovered things weren’t anywhere near as disastrous as I expected them to be, and over the last nine years I’ve come to regard the post-2002 In Flames catalogue as being something worth taking the time to explore. New album Sounds Of A Playground Fading is their latest effort, standing head and shoulders above anything the band has done over the last decade in my “humble” opinion.

There are plenty of In Flames fans that will gladly disagree, of course, because it still ain’t death metal…

“There will always be people like that,” says guitarist Björn Gelotte. “I mean, I’m one of those people. I’m not a huge fan of the last few Dio albums, I’m still a fan of the older ones. It comes down to the period in my life when I discovered that music, and I totally respect other people’s opinions. The only thing is, I don’t go screaming over the internet about the stuff I don’t like (laughs).”

Like bandmate Anders Friden (vocals), Gelotte doesn’t concern himself with the criticism thrown In Flames’ way. If they had bowed to public opinion at any point during their evolution it’s fair to say the band would have either gotten lost amongst the current glut aggression-happy legions or crashed and burned entirely.

“That’s the only thing that counts, how I and the other guys in the band feel about it. There’s no point or possibility to cater to everybody. We’ve never done that and we’ve been outspoken about that. We’re gonna get shit from a lot of people and we’re going to get love from a lot of people. That’s the nature of this band and it’s always been in our cards. We’re used to that. We’re doing this for us and not for the people that are freaking out.”
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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.” Continue Reading