- I, The Mask
- Call My Name
- I Am Above
- Follow Me
- (This Is Our) House
- We Will Remember
- In This Life
- Deep Inside
- All the Pain
- Stay With Me
In 2016, In Flames dropped their album “Battles“, which had further divided their fan base. Unfortunately, the direction they were going had even pushed me to approach their new album, I, The Mask with caution. Howard Benson, a noted producer of rock and metal, had his fingers in both of the aforementioned albums. Over the years, many fans had complained that they had lost their edge, or just went into “radio rock” territory. I was inclined to agree with the view on their prior album.
Let me really start with this anecdote: I was truly surprised with this album. The initial singles that were dropped, “I Am Above” and “(This Is Our) House” were a huge surprise, as the sound reflects past entries into In Flames’ catalog. The singles were certainly heavier than anything on Battles. For me, not only was this a pleasant realization, but had put a smile on my face.
Yes, In Flames newest effort incorporates sounds from prior eras of IF. There are electronic elements, akin to Soundtrack to Your Escape, on “Voices“, and “Deep Inside“. Heavier tracks “We Will Remember” and “Follow Me” bring more of the punch that In Flames has been known for, in some ways.
“Follow Me” reminds me of “Acoustic Melody” from Black-Ash Inheritance or “Pallr Anders Visa” off of Colony in parts, especially the intro. This was a surprise, because they haven’t done much like this in a while. “Stay With Me” also incorporates more acoustic melodies.
Anders (Friden, vocals) continues to push his clean singing. Having recently admitted in an interview that he’s been doing more vocal training, you can clearly hear the improvements in his clean singing. No, he doesn’t completely abandon screaming, but it’s not predominant throughout the album. Bjorn (Gelotte, guitars) and Niclas (Engelin, guitars) musical interplay here has become very creative and complex in many ways. Bryce Paul (bass) and Tanner Wayne (drums) are newcomers to In Flames, and their presence is strongly felt here. Excellent drumming and bass, which further accentuate the heavy hitting on the album, and they take a step back to allow the delicate acoustic elements surface in the lighter, brighter moments.
A refreshing In Flames album that incorporates elements of their previous eras, while not overwhelming their newer sound, but lifting it up. Howard Benson doesn’t push too much on adjusting their sound. Despite a few misses, this is the most solid album since A Sense of Purpose.