Review of the Album Called I, the Mask by Swedish Melodic Death Metal Band In Flames
What Is the Musical Style of I, the Mask?
I, the Mask remains the only full-length album that this writer has not reviewed and given an analysis of. In Flames has established themselves solidly on the scene since their debut back in 1990 and we are taking a look at this 2019 studio album of theirs. The electronic sound is there at the beginning for sure and this gives away that you will not hear anything that resembles the band’s old style. Stylistically, the first song is similar to something that you would have heard on Reroute to Remain. Even I had no idea whether I would review this album but that thought has materialized and here we go with the latest release by Sweden’s In Flames!
I, the Mask Really Shows the Difference of the Vocals of Anders Friden
I, the Mask marks the entry of two members not from Sweden. These are bassist Bryce Paul Newman and drummer Tanner Wayne. Through the first listen through this album, Anders Friden is trying a different approach vocally and that is that his vocals sound more harmonized. Yes, this is not the Anders Friden from even 1999 but people change as they get older. We can either look at this as the attempt at the band to try and mature or we can look at it as the band self-destructing which is not the case.
How Does I, the Mask Begin?
"Voices" is the song that starts off this album and Anders Friden still has his death metal style vocals that he used in the band’s earlier albums. The song is lyrically about trying to find recovery as your soul has been destroyed.
Songs I Am Above & Follow Me
"I Am Above" has some pretty creative rough vocals before the clean part starts as it alternates between clean and rough growls and yells. The band In Flames led us on a journey of melodic death metal excellence from 1990 until about the early 2000’s. Even after we witnessed the band changing with Reroute to Remain, the song called "Follow Me" has an encouraging message. There is no reason at all to be afraid of these guys declining because the avid fan and listener will see this album for what it is: a good way that this band reinvented themselves. The acoustic part in this song shows not just what In Flames can do but Swedish metal bands can and they do right. They manage to find a brilliant way to be creative and excellent even as they age. If we were to be able to take the mask off of this album, we would still get a darn good album here.
Review & Analysis of the Song This Is Our House
"(This Is Our) House" sounds kind of like a heavy melodic rock song, thus being a total departure from the band’s style that was present for so many years. It is inevitable that this modern version of In Flames will turn off some fans but for loyal fans of the band like myself, no matter how much the band changes, they really can do little wrong musically.
"This Is Our House"
The Songs We Will Remember, In This Life, & Burn
“We Will Remember” is a song about the fact that through the thick and thin of life, we will remember our past forever as we strive to live our best lives without surrendering. The only thing to really surrender to is to the present moment and even that is hard to do for most of us. “In This Life” is a melodic song about a person that is trying to keep themselves in control as they are exhausted, drained, and they cannot seem to focus. If there was ever a time when metal fans should keep their eyes open it is in the song called "Burn." The song suggests that we should try to adopt different views as we are under constant pressure from others to do things a certain way. Anders Friden’s vocal performance of “burn, burn, burn” is really notable in my perspective.
"In This Life"
Sweden's In Flames Should Play Professionally for Another 15 Years
In Flames is a band that more than likely will not go back to their old ways of playing melodic death metal but they will continue to evolve as the members enter their 50s. This is assuming that they even play that long and with the way that they have excelled so much musically why shouldn’t they continue to play for another 15 years?
Final Thoughts About the Album I, the Mask
Front man Anders Friden is around 46 years old now and if In Flames stays active for another 15 years, he will be over 61 years old by then. As the song "Deep Inside" refers to humans are always looking for something new, a sort of fresh start in life. “All the Pain” is a song that continues the new and great approach by this band and the vocals of Anders are not as harsh as earlier albums but he has reinvented himself as a vocalist by using more harmony in his voice. If bands want to stay competitive in the genre of melodic death metal, they have to find a way to reinvent themselves and Sweden’s In Flames have done just that! This is another solid musical job done by Anders Friden and In Flames and I know that Jesper would be proud of them.
Final score for the 2019 album I. the Mask: 90 points out of 100 for a solid A!
© 2020 Ara Vahanian