The successful career of In Flames started in the burgeoning metal scene of Gothenburg back in 1990 and while they will always be one of the forefathers of melodic death metal their music style has inevitably evolved through the years leading to the rather accessible sonic realm of the latest album “I, The Mask”.
The darkened atmosphere and modern synths of “Voices” create the right suspenseful mood to open the album and introduce consistent rounds of crunchy guitar riffs amplified by the ravenous vocal delivery channeling grim emotions yet there is also an inner positive energy courtesy of crispy melodic progressions.
There is a quite aggressive streak running through the title track with faster rhythmic dynamics and bouncy riffage marching confidently through futuristic atmospheric textures while the lead guitar work often focus on a more melodic approach that will naturally match the irresistible catchy vibes of the chorus.
The main rhythmic core of “Call My Name” has a classic heavy metal structure relying on plenty of energetic guitar riffs but there are many radio friendly moments such as the softer vivid chorus where the whole instrumentation embraces an easier melodic sound.
“I Am Above” continues to follow a familiar mixture of old school heavier rhythmic patterns rightfully filled with soaring guitar riffs and pleasant melodies that tend to put the spotlight on the vibrant clean vocals and the big chorus.
Just like a traditional rock ballad “Follow Me” begins with a profoundly melancholic and contemplative mood enhanced by mellow acoustic passages and as the warm clean vocals take the center stage the guitar work seems to leave behind any concrete sign of anger to deliver luminous melodies and fancy soloing.
On “Burn” pummeling guitar riffs return to embrace darker & heavier tonalities accompanied by a fair dosage of bitter growls and supported by a fiery rhythmic section while the straightforward melodic themes revolve around another catchy chorus.
On “Stay With Me” the rhythm drastically slows down and there are many accessible classic ballad elements, such as soft arpeggios and dreamy atmospheres, that amplify the emotional temper of the elegant melodic guitar phrases and the particularly ardent clean vocal delivery.
While you shouldn’t expect the melodic death metal anthems of the early acclaimed albums by In Flames it must be said that without any hesitation or noticeable regrets “I, The Mask” marks another major milestone in the sonic evolution of the band moving forward in order to fully embrace a different artistic vision that ultimately aims to attract a wider audience.