In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading
I find it somewhat regrettable, but ultimately necessary, to be here, once again, reviewing another lackluster product by Sweden's metal mainstays In Flames. One would think, after being wholly unimpressed with their last 2 full-lengths, that I would just stay away, waiting for someone more suited to this bland, devolved version of a once-mighty band to praise Sounds of a Playground Fading. Beyond the goofy title and the empty promise immediately unfulfilled of a glimpse at the In Flames that once blessed us with Whoracle, Colony, Clayman and Reroute To Remain, still I ventured forth to hopefully find something, anything, to get excited about.
You won't find it on the opening title track, although the chorus shows me that vocalist Anders Friden has really come a long way. Either that or the production is supporting his once-raspy voice and cleaning it up. It wouldn't surprise me, considering how generic and stale their music has become. I can accept and even appreciate, in the dark, selfish recesses of my mind, the band's want to appeal to the common denominator, to fit like a round peg in a round hole in the modern metal scene in general. Good for them, I hope they're realizing their dreams and financial stability, something they've actually earned through past effort. That's the kindest thing you'll hear me say about In Flames. This album is, front to back, absolute and unrelenting garbage in the shadow of a career's worth of superior material. Previously I mentioned Anders' having come a long way; but after about 3 or 4 tracks, I realize his voice is being altered somehow. Either that or he's simply not trying like he used to, there is no actual aggression in his voice, just empty noise with empty lyrics to boot. The songs are so desperate to stick, to matter in their melodic hook-fueled mid-paced style. But they don't. They can't. At least not to me. This isn't the same band, and it probably never will be again.
So, I'm going to pack it up and stop bitching about it. One last chance, and Sounds of a Playground Fading fails miserably. If this album appeals to you, that's more than fine, I really do think they deserve support in the form of your hard-earned (or otherwise earned) money. Buy their shit, go to their shows (where you might catch a song or two from a time when In Flames were still In Flames), and keep fueling their fire. I'm sure they'll continue to support your support with similar albums in the future. I bid you adieu, In Flames, and if anyone hears anything that sounds in anyway like Clayman again, be sure to let me know. I'm going to miss it otherwise.
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