I knew it was going to be bad. I just had no idea. What happened? This is the same band who released Clayman? OK, mercy! I'll take Soundtrack to Your Escape, just make the awful nu-metal stop, please! Ye gods, I don't even know where to begin.

My first exposure to this abomination was deceptively fed to my ears when Sirius/XM's Liquid Metal began playing The Puzzle. A nice thrashy number reminiscent of some older In Flames gave me hope that the band was returning to a more aggressive sound. I couldn't have been more wrong. Out of the thirteen tracks here, only that song is really any good and that's because the main riff used is a Soilwork cast-off. I am left to wonder, did the last vestiges of creativity leave with Jesper Strömblad? I'm beginning to think so.

Anders has never been a great clean singer, always sounding like the bastard child of Jeremy Enigk and Bobcat Goldthwait, but you can really see him trying here to mainstream his voice as much as possible. His choruses consist of mediocre, forgettable melodies sung over mediocre, forgettable chord progressions. The tempos on this album are stale and redundant. One gets the feeling they should change the name of the band to In Bed, because that's pretty much where Sounds of a Playground Fading put me.

Outside of a handful of riffs and a few of Ander's screams that remind you that this was once a great melodic death metal band, there is nothing here except a safe, mailed-in attempt to keep a band somewhat on the radar. I've seldom heard anything so uninspired by a band that has accomplished so much. In Flames sounds tired, like they themselves are just sick of what they do, but lack the will to break up and move on or the courage to take a chance and reinvent themselves. Take a pass on this one, listen to Colony instead. You're better off not knowing what they have become.