Wednesday, March 27 By: John Campbell

The Swedish Metal Band In Flames has released their 13th album titled “I, The Mask”.The once great pioneers of melodic death metal have proven themselves time and time again, andhave continued their venture into the future by carving their unique sound into the vast genre of metal.

Going into this album, I had few expectations outside of the brutality I expect to be presented with dealing with most bands floating around the metalcore genre. The opening track “Voices” gave me a good sample of the sound they continually built off of for the rest of the record. Fast or brutal opening hooks, screaming verse vocals, and soaring bridges with powerful choruses. The album follows this formula pretty consistently, and that isn’t a bad thing. It just gets a little tiring by the 7th track. The clean vocals are always the leading focus of the choruses, which isn’t surprising. They are powerful and passionate sounding, but they aren’t very diverse. But honestly, this isn’t a huge concern for the sound of the album, at least for me. I love the technical riffing and the hooks in songs like “I, The Mask” or “I Am Above”. Especially “I Am Above”, this was the one track that really stuck with me off of this record. In another song, “We Weill Remember” there’s a more alt-metal sound that leads the track, almost resembling Breaking Benjamin sometimes. I quite liked this sound for In Flames, it didn’t take away from the track at all. Rather, the structure of the songs is what took them down a peg for me.

One of the things that gets me about this album is that I felt like I could predict what was gonna happen in every track after the first three. And to my disappointment, I was almost always right. It never sounds bad, bland, uninspired, or heartless, it just sounds boring after a while. I felt like the sound was great and it was a strong foundation to stand on, but after finding their footing, there wasn’t a lot of movement, so to speak. Between the tracks “I Am Above” and “Deep Inside” there was a lot of forgettable metal, and it really pains me to call it that, but I truthfully have a hard time recalling it, even after several listens. It just wasn’t engaging the same way the other tracks were. The album does however close on a much better note, as “Stay WithMe” was a very distinct mellow track that built into a passionate conclusion. It’s always nice to know that metal bands can reconnect with the more delicate emotions and not have to be full of energy constantly.

The production in the tracks of “I, The Mask” is consistently great. The drums always sound real and strong, and the guitar parts never overpower the vocals in a significant way. The bass guitar is almost inaudible most of the time, but the parts that I heard were present to add weight to the guitars, so I feel that they’re more supplementary than complementary. The only low point of production is in the choruses of “Burn” which sound like they’re about to peak sometimes. It just sounded shaky.

For long time fans of In Flames, I don’t think there’s anything to be disappointed about in this new record. Despite the times that the music feels almost formulaic or uninteresting, you still have a unique and heavy sound that will connect with you, and that is never disappointing.

Favorite Tracks: I Am Above, Stay With Me, Follow Me, Deep Inside

Least Favorite Tracks: We Will Remember, In This Life, Burn, All The Pain

Rating: 65/100