Less death, less melody, still core

Established back in 1993, the Swedish Melodic Death Metal band from Gothenburg, has been around the block a few times with ten studio albums under their belt. Renowned for their melodic laced, fast and heavy tracks, filled with growls from the depth of hell and squealing axes.

Frankly the new album, "Sounds of a Playground Fading" does not quite feed this inner beast in us. Granted there have been some major changes in the band over the last decade, but the biggest change has got to be the loss of guitarist and founding member, Jesper Stromblad. This change has had a phenomenal impact on the end product. Yes, they are still melodic, yes they are still heavy and fast, but there is something that has been lost.

Vocalist Anders Friden, still growls the tracks out and is as solid as ever, contributing to keeping the whole In Flames sound together, but it goes a lot deeper. The music just feels that little bit gentler or softer. The responsibility to write the music now rested squarely on the shoulders of lead guitarist, Bjorn Gelotte, and to be honest, he did a great job, but you should expect a major change when an integral component such as Jesper leaves a band.

Gelotte commented that "There's a huge difference in how the songs were written this time, Jesper quit, so I wrote all the music. It was very strange not having him around, but at the same time we had the opportunity to do things a little bit differently as well. We worked more around the vocals than we've ever done before."

With Jesper's departure, long-time stand in guitarist, Niclas Engelin stepped up and re-joined the band. The rest of the line-up pretty much remained the same with Peter Iwers on bass and Daniel Svensson on the drums since the nineties.

The album touches a few times on their quieter side with the eerily spooky 'The Attic' and 'Jester's Door' and wraps up with the slower 'Liberation', which shockingly almost touches on a rock ballad at times.

Overall the album does not disappoint in the slightest. It is a solid metal album filled with heavy, fret burning riffs, solid breakdowns, and awesome vocals. It is just a little different to what we're used to hearing from In Flames. But then, with the founding member and principal influence, leaving the band, this album could almost be perceived as a debut album. Let's hope their next album will blow us away again.

In Flames are playing at Sonisphere, Knebworth, this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the changed line-up for the first time.