In Flames

Sounds of a Playground Fading

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On Sounds of a Playground Fading, the band’s tenth studio album, In Flames officially complete their transition from Swedish melodic death metal pioneers to unpredictable Swedish progressive pop/rock/neo-classical metal innovators. Their first outing without founding member and chief songwriter Jesper Strömblad (the 13 tracks rely solely on the music of Björn Gelotte and the lyrics of Anders Fridén), Playground Fading's technical acumen and slick infusion of modern rock dazzles for the most part, especially on stand-out tracks like “A New Dawn,” “Fear Is the Weakness,” and the soaring title cut, all of which, in true In Flames fashion, aim for the bleachers and end up exploding into the night sky, but for all of the bells and whistles, there’s not a whole lot of variety to be had here. Bombastic and synth-heavy, Sounds of a Playground Fading is filled with more radio-ready moments than any of the group’s previous outings, which may divide some longtime fans, but it’s as epic as Scandinavia is cold, which is after all, the band’s trademark.

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