Solid album from a solid group
Twenty-nine years on the music scene and thirteen studio albums later, In Flames are still producing quality content that fans can get behind. While they caused a giant rift to form when they started experimenting with a more alternative sound, the Swedish heavy metal band has honed in on what works for them. For people who didn’t like this shift of direction, this album won’t do anything for them. But for people who embraced the change, it will have them hitting rewind as soon as the album finishes.
Since their previous album, Battles, the band has introduced two new members and I, The Mask will be the first album to feature bassist Bryce Paul and drummer Tanner Wayne. It’s clear that they both acclimated well into the style of the band and brought their own flair as well.
In the opener, “Voices,” fans are eased into the album with a nice progression from sound effects into a catchy guitar riff that shifts into the screaming vocals of Anders Fridén. He seamlessly shifts back between gravely, screaming vocals and clear ones in this song and throughout the album as a whole.
Among the 12 tracks, “Follow Me” stands out because of the acoustic opening and continued presence throughout the song. While the song isn’t as fast-paced as some of the other songs such as “I Am Above” and “Burn,” it’s easily an enjoyable song on the album that hits hard with its lyrics. Another stand out song is “(This Is Our) House” due to the chant at the beginning which no other track makes use of. Ultimately, the chant captures people’s attention initially, but the lyrics keep them engaged, such as, “this is our time/ we won’t back down,” and “join me in the fight/ the fight for our lives.”
Honestly, the lyrics of every track on the album as a whole works well together and people will find themselves engaged throughout. But “Stay With Me,” the final track, is the most chilling with the acoustic guitar and haunting vocals. At the beginning of the album, fans were privy to an awesome guitar solo, but there is something about the shift between acoustic and electric guitar in the last song that can’t be rivaled.
While I, The Mask is not the highlight of In Flames’ career, it definitely shows that they are comfortable in their alternative craft. Overall, each song is captivating on its own and creates a cohesive, well-thought-out album. In Flames continues to deliver solid albums through and through.