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18/06/2011 In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading Review
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|In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading Review|
|18-06-2011 09:42 | 0 comment(s)|
| Since the early 1990s, In Flames have taken metal and hammered it into whatever pleased them at the time. True trend-setters and genre inventors, with each release, In Flames literally influences hundreds of bands without creativity. In fact, you can use In Flames as a gauge to determine what the next four Trivium albums will sound like. Depending on your stance on metalcore, you may either really hate or love In Flames for practically inventing the style. I love them. Also you can't blame the band for having so many bastard children wannabes destroying their instruments in suburban garages everywhere.
Sounds of a Playground Fading is the tenth album from the band. Naturally, I first compared it to the previous nine releases. This is probably the wrong way to listen to this album because honestly, it's not as ground-breaking many of their other albums. My favorite release of theirs is 1997′s Whoracle. Albums like Whoracle and Colony were years ahead of their time. You may not be able to tell now, but it was as if In Flames had a metal crystal ball and knew where to take their music. I don't feel Sounds of a Playground Fading is that much ahead of the curve, but it doesn't mean it's a bad album at all.
The forward-thinking in this release is more subtle. There are actually several "new" things I noticed witin the release, but they are all retro-fitted, yet updated sounds. Guitar solos have been seeping their way back into many new releases and Sounds of a Playground Fading has quite a few. I also hear 80s-era riffs in quite a few songs. For example, if you listen to the bridge in "The Puzzle", you will hear none other than a nifty little riff influenced by The Edge. But it's ever-so-subtle and works well. Speaking of 80s riffs, you'll also hear lead guitar melodies reminiscent of Dokken in "Fear is the Weakness".
Don't let the 80s throw-backs fool you; the arrangements in Sounds of a Playground Fading are quite sophisticated. In Flames uses synths nearly perfectly, and I'm not of a big fan of synths in general. These guys melt the synths over the top of extremely well-written songs and fill in the gaps in just the right places.
From the opening title track, the band goes into a groove sweet spot and that's where they play nearly every song. Once you recognize that sweet spot, you'll know it's their safe place. Now there is a nuclear ton of variety on the album as a whole. Each song contains multiple changes and quite a bit of vocal variation. Added to the constantly changing retro guitar licks and I'm a pretty happy head-banger.
I think my favorite track on the album is "Darker Times" because it truly captures their current sound and hits the ground in that sweet spot I described. It's full of down-tuned riffs but has some nice melodic riffs as well. Also pay attention to "Ropes", a nice little tribute to System of a Down. There is a lot to love about this album.
Is Sounds of a Playground Fading five years ahead of its time? No. But it is full of trends I've already noticed in some of the better releases this year. In addition, In Flames remains fully grounded in who they are. By listening to this album you will know exactly what you're going to get in the metal scene for the next few years, but nobody will pull it off like In Flames.
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