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.”
That said, Gelotte offers insight as to why Sounds Of A Playground Fading works as well as it does…
“I always like having dynamics in a song, on an album, in the setlist. That’s what keeps things interesting. Your ears and your mind will only take so much of the same thing before tuning it out completely. On Sounds Of A Playground Fading, the essence of In Flames remains the same now even if the way we wrote was different; it starts with a riff or a melody and grows from there. It’s a matter of arranging the music, and that’s where I think things got a little harder. We tried to get to the good stuff fairly early, having good hooks and strong melodies, and maybe not only on the guitars. We focused on the vocals more, and then only on the vocals when we started building the songs around them. So, it was a very interesting process from beginning to end.”