At this point of their career, when IN FLAMES release a new album the question is no longer about whether they’ll finally get back to the melodic death metal sound that made them famous almost 20 years ago. On the contrary, with over 2,5 million records sold over the past years and 10 albums in their fans wait in fascination and (in some cases) fear of what’s coming next.
So it goes that, even as the title sounds like it’s heralding the end, “Sounds Of A Playground Fading” is in fact a new chapter of IN FLAMES lore. Especially now that founding guitarist and songwriter Jesper Strömblad is no longer part of the band. Strömblad took himself out of the equation prior to the writing of the new record, leaving guitarist Björn Gelotte to lay the first stones of a new foundation on his own. It was only natural that long term stand-in guitarist Niclas Engelin (also Engel, he played in Passenger together with Anders Fridén) filled the vacant spot. In September 2010 IN FLAMES finally entered their own IF Studios together with producer Roberto Laghi (production, recording and mix, also ”A Sense Of Purpose”, Sonic Syndicate, Hardcore Superstar), Daniel Bergstrand (co-production as well as vocal-recordings, also Dimmu Borgir, Meshuggah, Behemoth) and Örjan Örnkloo (keyboards and programming) to start the recording of the new album, "Sounds Of A Playground Fading".
"There's a huge difference in how the songs were written this time,” says Gelotte. “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. It was very interesting from my point of view because it took a hell of a lot longer to write the songs. I had to rearrange stuff for the lyrics, and I also had to adapt to certain things that I never had to be concerned about in the past, like re-writing riffs to fit a certain idea. It was a good challenge for me.”
“Sounds Of A Playground Fading” is, as expected, a challenge for the listener as well. Still unapologetic for their modern metal edge – a facet of the band’s sound since the aptly titled “Reroute To Remain” from 2002 – IN FLAMES pushes that envelope further on new tracks “Ropes”, “Fear Is The Weakness”, “The Attic” and “Deliver Us”. At the same time, they’ve reached back to the “Whoracle” era (1997) on “The Puzzle”, “A New Dawn”, and the latter’s dark spoken word intro, “Jester’s Door”. Gelotte and vocalist Anders Fridén are the culprits, having made a point of keeping the fans that plug in on the edge of their seats.
“I always like having dynamics in a song, on an album, in the setlist,” says Gelotte. “That’s what keeps things interesting. Your ears and your mind will only take so much of the same thing before tuning it out completely. We’re going to get shit from a lot of people and we’re going to get love from a lot of people for this album. That’s the nature of this band and it’s always been in our cards. We’re used to it.”
The album title is as thought provoking and unique as the music, reflecting the mindset of the band, Fridén’s in particular. “Sounds Of A Playground Fading” suggests a loss of innocence or a season of change, but it will ultimately mean different things to different people. Suffice to say, it represents IN FLAMES in 2011.
“It took a while for me to get my head around the title, and we talked a lot about it when Anders first presented it,” Gelotte reveals. “It obviously has to do with the rest of the lyrics on the album. I think the title sums up IN FLAMES in the present day. We’re way older now compared to when we started this band, so maybe this is about leaving those innocent days behind a little bit. It doesn’t mean that we’re responsible adults all of a sudden, though. We’ve grown up and we look at the world differently now, but we’re still as enthusiastic about making music as we ever were.”
“Sounds Of A Playground Fading” will be out in various formats such as a Jewelcase, Digital album, 2LP Gatefold and Special Edition CD + DVD that comes in a pop-up Digipak as well as Ltd. Deluxe Box Set CD + DVD including the aforementioned pop-up Digipak and various special goodies. The outstanding artwork for the album was done by Dave Correia.
IN FLAMES were founded 1990 in Gothenburg and soon became one of the most successful Swedish Metal bands since the release of their break-through album "The Jester Race" in 1995. Like many of the predecessors, their last album "A Sense Of Purpose" (2008) charted all over the world including the band¹s highest ever entry on the American Billboard top 200 with an amazing #28. Other notable chart entries: Sweden #1, European Billboard top 100 #7, Canada Billboard top 200 #7, Germany #6, UK (top 200) #54, Finland #3, Japan #14, and Norway #17.
Around the time of the release of “Sounds Of A Playground Fading” IN FLAMES will play some of the most important European summer festivals such as Sonisphere, Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park, Nova Rock, Hellfest and many more followed by the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Tour throughout North America in July and a European tour in the fall and winter of 2011.