You know it’s not often that you look to sweeping huge choruses in your metal songs but that is one thing that In Flames are sure to deliver. If you haven’t been a fan of the last few In Flames records then stop reading now because Sounds Of A Playground Fading is not gonna win you back. I’ll admit that I only began my relationship with In Flames after 2002’s Reroute To Remain but having bought everything before and after that album, I feel I’m a pretty good judge of In Flames at this point.

For those of you wondering if the departure of founding member/guitarist Jesper Stromblad would impact In Flames latest, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, in a negative way have nothing to fear. For their 10th (!) album, In Flames continue to do what they do best and take Swedish heavy metal to a new level.

While the opener/title track is not as immediate as the lead off on previous albums, it still stands triumphant alongside the more anthemic In Flames tunes. Are In Flames a little more hard rock now than they are metal? Does Anders Friden stick to the clean vocals a little more now than on past records? Sure, but you have to evolve if you want to survive in the 21st Century and no band is evolving better than In Flames in todays metal climate.

Regardless of the nit-picking, In Flames still bring the heavy throughout SOAPF. “Deliver Us” warrants syncopated head banging from band and crowd alike while “Darker Times” is a tribal, mechanical beast. Then you have the acoustic “The Attic” smack dab in the middle  and “Jester’s Door” with its’ hypnotic guitar lines and Friden’s spoken-word delivery that leads the way towards the killer “A New Dawn” and closer “Liberation” which sounds unlike anything In Flames have done before. Think straight up Pop. Yeah, they went there.


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