In spite of all they have accomplished throughout their career, In Flames has been going through some turmoil the past few years. Their latest CD, 2008’s A Sense Of Purpose, received many negative reviews and in 2010, founding member/guitarist Jesper Strömblad announced his departure from the band.
The disc starts out in impressive fashion with the title track “Sounds Of A Playground Fading.” It feels like the In Flames of the past, as Niclas Engelin and Björn Gelotte provide the riveting guitars that the band has been notorious for. The follow-up, “Deliver Us,” starts and ends very melodically, with Anders Friden’s gifted voice providing what is arguably the best chorus on the CD.
The album then starts to get a little hazy with “All For Me,” which contains a nice, heavy bass part, but that’s about it. “The Puzzle” and “Fear Is The Weakness” are not bad but it just doesn’t seem to fit their usual style. I was really confused by “The Attic.” It has some deep, emotional lyrics but where does this dreary, smooth guitar track fit in here? Same could be said for the 11th listing, “Jester’s Door.”
Anders’ voice goes from primarily screams and growls on “Darker Times” to clear vocals with “Ropes,” but both tunes, while noticeably different, are pretty damn good. “A New Dawn” reverts back to their old style, giving the disc one last jolt of energy before ending with the strange “Liberation.”
Some songs are good, others not so much. This album might be a little better than their last one, but unfortunately, In Flames doesn’t seem to have the magic they had years ago.
In A Word: Adequate