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In Flames – I, The Mask review

Release date: 01/03/2019.

Label: Nuclear Blast

Genre: Metal

Band members:-

  • Vocals – Anders Friden
  • Guitar – Bjorn Gelotte
  • Guitar – Niclas Engelin
  • Bass – Bryce Paul
  • Drums – Tanner Wayne

Tracklisting :-

  1. Voices
  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
  9. Burn
  10. Deep Inside
  11. All The Pain
  12. Stay With Me

After the release of ‘Battles’ in 2016 there have been some turbulent times for the Gothenburg legends.  But they have returned with a renewed sense of purpose, with the addition of a new rhythm section in Bryce Paul and Tanner Wayne.  This, their 13th album, sees In Flames, cut through all of the styles that have been signature to their sound. This album offers all of the versatility you have come to expect from the pioneers of melodic death metal.  It is clear that they have influenced a mountain of bands and in turn their influences shine through perfectly.  It seems like In Flames have managed to get the balance right on this album, where ‘Battles’, might not have been so well received by older Jesterheads. 

I, The Mask, is a definite return to form.  The music never lost its’ edge, maybe just wandered down a slightly different path.  Clarity of production that you expect from a band that have honed their skills over 3 decades.  This is a good, honest set of tunes that will only stabilise In Flames worldwide popularity.  Clearly, they have got their mojo back!

‘Voices’, kicks off the album and builds nicely with the familiar monstrous In Flames style riff.  Friden’s vocals tearing through the verses and singing the choruses.  The solos are definitely more than a nod to the melodic death metal history of the band.  Whilst keeping the innovation throughout to keep their music fresh.  There a plenty of nice riffs on here to excite and the rhythm section certainly feels as though it has a renewed drive to push In Flames into a fourth decade.

The title track to the album, currently released as a lyric video, I, The Mask, is a very immediate track!  It explodes on your ears instantly with brutal intensity and is certainly my favourite on the album.  And it’s with this kind of form that the band seemingly have discovered a new vitality to their music.  The overall picture is that In Flames do not want to be pigeonholed into a particular genre and this is a culmination of all of the best music they can offer.  

The twin guitar melodies, a pronounced feature of their music, are present on tunes like, ‘Call My Name’ and ‘We Will Remember’.  The atmospheric ‘I Am Above’, shows Friden displaying his full range of throat and lungs, also delivering you a wailing solo that makes the hairs on the back of neck stand to attention.  ‘(This is Our) House’, begins with a crowd chanting, ‘This is the fight, the fight for our lives. Scream out loud, this is our house’.  It’s a typically rousing song with plenty of different elements to this anthem.  This should be a live favourite with crowd participation.

There are some slower and mid-paced songs on here, with ‘Follow Me’ and ‘All The Pain’.  But even these tunes still have enough edge and artistry to demonstrate the versatility of In Flames’ sound.  

You can’t have a tune called ‘Burn’ on an album and not expect it to tear you a new one.  Classic riffs and melodies driven by another fantastic vocal performance.   With ‘Deep Inside’, equally brilliant in structure and through to anthemic ‘In This Life’ and epic closer ‘Stay With Me’.  They are about as close as In Flames will get to writing a ballad!

This is a very enjoyable set of tracks and they further highlight how much In Flames have to give as a band.  There isn’t an over-reliance on synth and keyboards but the innovation and addition of different instruments has added greater depth to the albums’ dynamic.   I can honestly say that there are no weak or ‘filler’ tunes on this album.  All them delivering a fresh slice of In Flames.  I believe that this will push the band even further into the stratosphere.

The mask has been removed and all the cards are on the table.  2019 is already a good year for metal if this is the standard being set! 

Reviewer: Stefan Putwain

SCORE: 10 out of 10.

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