In Flames
I, the Mask


3.5
great

Review

by Mason Pearmain USER (58 Reviews)
March 1st, 2019 | 295 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Jester that wants to be free

In Flames has done a lot over the years to alienate and divide their fanbase. If you’re on the outside looking in and seeing the way their music has been received over the years, you might deduce that consistency and overall stability is not exactly the Gothenburg quintet’s strong suit. For the most part, that much is true; their heyday is clearly behind them as far as creativity goes, so it’s far too tough of a task for them to attempt to revisit the glory days of The Jester Race and Whoracle, no matter how much they’d want to. That hasn’t stopped them from trying to create enjoyable music, even if they’re not the melodic death metal giants they once were. Their rock bottom was 2016’s Battles, a feat they’d want to avoid recreating given the scope of the backlash it got. Sans “(This Is Our) House”, the singles pointed to an effort closer to Sounds of a Playground Fading and A Sense of Purpose than the last two releases, and it's roughly what we got with I, the Mask.

The idea that an In Flames album would signal a rebound hasn’t been this clear in quite a while. “Voices” is their strongest opener since “The Mirror’s Truth”, with its energetic instrumentation hearkening back to the heavier cuts from years past. The consistently-maligned Anders Friden sounds better than he has in a while, intertwining the powerful screams from his mid-2000s work with a more refined version of the clean singing found on albums like Siren Charms. There’s a level of drive in songs like “Voices” and the likes of “I Am Above”, “Call My Name”, and the Come Clarity-channeling title track that hasn’t been seen in an In Flames album since Sounds of a Playground Fading at the very latest. “Follow Me” draws you in with a lighter acoustic introduction and simpler structure, building up to an anthemic hook that’s deceptively uplifting. On the other hand, “We Will Remember” offers a feel similar to a Hats Off to the Bull-era Chevelle track that leads to another infectious, upbeat hook. Hell, even “Burn” has quite a bit going for it, despite being one of the more generic cuts.

There’s no shortage of moments on I, the Mask that feel like In Flames are starting right where they left off prior to Siren Charms. From the way this sounds, it’s possible that even they were not proud of their post-Sounds material and just wanted to pull a mulligan. Unfortunately for them, as has been the case for the last couple album cycles, consistency is an issue again. “(This Is Our) House” is arguably In Flames’ worst song, even when sat next to the likes of “Save Me” and “Dead Eyes”. The choruses have taken a small step back even in comparison to Siren Charms’ strongest material, but they're mostly serviceable if a bit simplistic. The inconsistency of I, the Mask is definitely on a smaller scale compared to that of Battles and even Siren Charms, but it’s still fairly noticeable when a downturn occurs, such as on “In This Life” and the aforementioned “(This Is Our) House”.

Like many prior In Flames albums, there’s a bleak quality to the lyrics, as if Friden and co. are pleading for life to deal them a better hand while at the exact same time acting like they don’t need help, such as on “I Am Above” (don’t need your tears, I don’t need your love / don’t need your sympathy, I am above) as well as “Deep Inside” (holding out for something new / broken dreams and heartbreak). As stale as they can come off, especially when they’ve been done for years by this band, the truth is that even in old age, the human struggle continues rattling on; thus, it makes sense that they’d continue to address it. It's not done in the most thought-provoking way, but the lyricism does the job without being overbearingly cringeworthy in the majority of cases here. At this stage of Anders' life, he's beyond the point of what's considered a "midlife crisis", but clearly shows signs of emotional turmoil beneath the surface, and that shows in the lyrical content.

At this stage in their career, all the fans can really hope for is a step up from their previous two albums, which this most certainly is. For every blunder like “(This Is Our) House” or “In This Life”, there’s at least a few more cuts like “Voices”, “Call My Name”, and “I Am Above” to be found. Anders Friden is still Anders Friden, which has proven to be a contentious fact among In Flames fans for years. The music is still closer to their late-2000s output, so if you already wrote them off after Reroute to Remain, there’s nothing here for you to hold on to. If anything, this is for the fans that are still hanging on after all this time and every change the band has gone through over the years. Were Battles and Siren Charms too blasé, generic, and just plain uninteresting for you? Perhaps I, the Mask will end up being the answer.



Recent reviews by this author
Parkway Drive ReverenceAmerican Football American Football (LP3)
Holding Absence Holding AbsenceBuckcherry Warpaint
Demon Hunter PeaceBadflower OK, I’M SICK
user ratings (182)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (2)
Better than "Battles" and that's about it....

PyramidNoise (2.5)
Pressing play on a new In Flames album has been a difficult experience for a while now. Does I, the ...



Comments:Add a Comment 
AgentDeathbat
February 28th 2019


9596 Comments


Alright, here's my take. Starting March out (according to the review's timestamp) with a banger just like I did last month. \m/

Digging: Attalus - Into the Sea

Hellscythe
February 28th 2019


3436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a surprisingly salvageable release.

AgentDeathbat
February 28th 2019


9596 Comments


@Hell: Yeah, I already knew going in that I was going to like it since I'm pretty much the resident In Flames defender and gave even Battles a 3.

Hellscythe
February 28th 2019


3436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Battles was a hard 2 but I can see this being a soft 3 and that's more than I expected from an In Flames album in 2019.

AgentDeathbat
February 28th 2019


9596 Comments


Yeah, I mean a 2 or even a 1.5 I can understand with Battles. I think really it was a little less consistent than Siren Charms but had higher highs (namely, I think Like Sand and Wallflower > With Eyes Wide Open) so there's that. 0.5-1...ehhh you're kinda losing me.

artiswar
February 28th 2019


6887 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Burn is a catchy tune

AgentDeathbat
February 28th 2019


9596 Comments


@art: yeah, it's bottom 3 for me along with In This Life and (This Is Our) House but it's definitely a catchy tune.

Funeralopolis
March 1st 2019


14253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album is better than battles and siren charms but still pretty bad

Digging: Ghostmane - N / O / I / S / E

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


It's definitely pretty rough around the edges, at the very least.

cageofman
March 1st 2019


119 Comments


I really liked Battles, and im a fan since the Colony Album. I thought it had really decent tunes to be honest.
Looking forward to checking this one out, that album cover though is Terrible!!
Shocking album cover

InFlamesWeThrash666
March 1st 2019


8798 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Throw away the stupid ballads,the bad production and the autotune and album will be good

Digging: Children of Bodom - Hexed

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


@Flames: I hardly ever notice the autotune on Anders' vocals, tbh.

Lucman
March 1st 2019


2138 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Man, what is with those negs? So far this actually isn't too bad. Around the 3 range it'll probably end up for me.

Digging: Emily Scott Robinson - Traveling Mercies

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


@Lucman: This is going to sound tinfoil-hat tier but I have a feeling it's someone who doesn't like me and his numerous alts. I didn't even get this when I gave Battles a 3/5, which makes it even weirder. Went to the meds about it, hopefully that can get resolved.

zachrEEEEEEEEE
March 1st 2019


26 Comments


Way too many negs here tbh

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


I'm not one to complain about negs often, I'm just confused by this. I remember getting a wave of troll negs months back because I made fun of someone for whining about negs and didn't say shit. That's why even my Rolo Tomassi review, which started with a 100% approval rating, got at least five.

Lucman
March 1st 2019


2138 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah it's pretty stupid. You neg if it's badly written which this isn't at all. On the album, gotta admit, this is pretty much a heavier Breaking Benjamin.

furyroad97
March 1st 2019


527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It’s about on par with Playground Fading so far for me. Alright, nowhere near their best but still better than the last 2 albums.

Digging: American Football - American Football (LP3)

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


I got this kind of response on other reviews (see: my ETF 4.5), but they were usually a lot more gradual.

AgentDeathbat
March 1st 2019


9596 Comments


@fury: yeah this is slightly below SoaPF for me.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy