There are two things that are true of a new In Flames album:
1. There is always something that unmistakably sounds like In Flames.
2. There is always something that pushes the boundaries for our conception of what In Flames should sound like.
This is also true of I, The Mask.
The first four songs are what I’d call good, standard In Flames songs. Modern, up-tempo and mid-tempo melo-death groovers as we know them and love them. It’s what the Swedes do best. Especially ‘I Am Above’ rings well in my ears with Anders Fridén’s “I am above” grunts, which are then followed by totally melodic pieces. I think the contrast is fantastic.
Speaking of contrast, the fifth tune, ‘Follow Me’, is a break away from the preceding tunes with its acoustic intro and bird song. The quiet build-up turns into a melodic yet heavy riff with double bass-drumming, only to be turned into another acoustic piece. This interchange between acoustic guitar and melodic heaviness characterises the song overall, and for me, this is a song that really has grown on me the past few days.
With the sixth song, ‘(This Is Our) House’, Anders Fridén and the rest of the Gothenburg crew are yet again pushing the boundaries with a song that is so utterly catchy. Not so many days ago, their countrymen from Soilwork did it with basically the entire Verkligheten album, now it’s In Flames’ turn… This is an awesome song, and the message behind it is that we’ve got to do something to change the world if we want to survive. Couldn’t agree more. Amazing song.
‘We Will Remember’ has a touch of British pop music from the 80s, I can’t put the finger on which band exactly. Duran Duran? Not sure, but it matters not – it sounds great.
With ‘In This Life’, there is still a good deal of catchiness onboard, but truth is that this song won’t make it into the greatest hits compilation. If there’s a filler on this album, this is the one.
‘Burn’ is a more appealing piece and is closely related to the first four songs of the album. Good stuff.
With ‘Deep Inside’, new paths are trodden again. The oriental flavour of the intro and ensuing massive groove convince from the first second. Even the ballad-like bridge doesn’t ruin it. Very nice. I can already see thousands of fans making the ground shake as they jump along to beginning of this tune at festivals around the world.
The tradition of including a ballad hasn’t gone away for In Flames. In fact, there are two on this one. ‘All The Pain’ is an outpouring of emotions and angst in the way only Anders Fridén can do it from the very outset, but it turns into a pretty powerful piece as it goes along. The album finalé, ‘Stay With Me’, I can’t really get a grasp of. Granted, there’s something genuinely eerie about the atmosphere of it, but most of all, I think it’s not going anywhere, even if it grows into a crescendo of sorts towards the very end.
So, there it is, In Flames anno 2019. Still pushing boundaries for both themselves and metal music. There’s a couple of misses on the album in my humble view, but also standard killer In Flames songs and then a couple of truly amazing tunes. Which, I suppose, is also a standard of sorts when the band is In Flames.
2. I, the Mask
3. Call My Name
4. I Am Above
5. Follow Me
6. (This is Our) House
7. We Will Remember
8. In This Life
10. Deep Inside
11. All the Pain
12. Stay with Me
Playing Time: 50 minutes
Anders Fridén - vocals
Björn Gelotte - guitars
Niclas Engelin - guitars
Bryce Paul - bass
Tanner Wayne - drums