With a history as long and celebrated as In Flames, each new album is met by fans with great expectations and high hopes. “Will it be as good as The Jester Race or Clayman?” “Will it be something weird and a total deviation from what I’m used to?” Well, considering the fact that In Flames have been releasing studio albums since 1993, it’s impossible to ask them to stay with one sound. First of all, it gets boring for the listener and, second, musicians can’t be pigeonholed like that. Progression and expansion are a natural part of life as well as music. So it is with In Flames 10th studio release, Sounds of a Playground Fading. But does this expansion and progression work? Check after the jump.
The album kicks off with the title track, ‘Sounds of a Playground Fading’. What’s immediately apparent is how good the production sounds. Although it starts with only a clean guitar, you can hear the roundness, clarity and depth of the low-tuned strings. Then the second guitar comes in and we have the beautiful guitar harmonization that In Flames is so renowned for. When the distortion kicks in and the drums and bass enter, it is with such power and immediacy, that I couldn’t help but feel goosebumps raise on my arms. Once the song kicks in and Anders starts his trademark screaming growl, I knew I was set for a full on In Flames experience, one that I’ve been needing without realizing.
The production of this album is spot on with each instrument sounding crisp, full and clear. I could go into details but suffice it to say that while I was listening with my Grado’s, it felt like I was immersed in the music rather than it hitting me head on.
While I found myself loving the whole album, songs like ‘Fear Is The Weakness’, ‘Enter Tragedy’ and ‘A New Dawn’ that showcase the epic grandeur and astonishing melody and beauty that can inhabit metal.
The Final Word: Sounds of a Playground Fading is not just a masterful addition to the In Flames catalogue, it is a triumphant crowning achievement. I cannot recommend this album highly enough.