Oh In Flames, how you test the patience of long-time fans with your apparent ‘law of diminishing returns’ mantra dictating that each subsequent album falls flat as the world of pop-metal looms ever closer.
Oh In Flames, how we long for a return to the sounds of The Jester Race, Colony, Clayman (or even Reroute To bloody Remain) knowing full well that you’ve moved on (as is your right) and largely left those halcyon days of world-beating melodic death metal behind.
Oh In Flames, how we hoped that I, The Mask would, at the very least, tip the scales of aggression back in our favour after the damp squib that was 2016’s risible Battles.
We’ll stop doing that now and get on with the review.
I, The Mask actually begins life as a relatively decent, relatively surprising, ultra-melodic melodeath album with the likes of “Call My Name” and “Voices” proving to be pretty decent, suggesting a return to reform is on the cards. Alas, it’s not to be…..abject mediocrity is our only destination as the album progresses.
We already knew that “(This Is Our) House” was utter garbage and will go down as the absolute nadir of In Flames catalogue – it’s embarrassing, lowest common denominator bilge, simple as that – but perhaps that was a one-off moment on an album full of bangers?
Or, perhaps not.
Anyone who dry-heaved upon hearing Battles, Siren Charms and Sounds Of A Playground Fading will likely once again balk at the predictability and ‘safety’ of the majority of these songs, with the fire in In Flames’ belly ironically appearing to have burnt out almost entirely.
That being said, long time devotees will appreciate Anders Friden’s vocals (his cleans are particularly evocative here) and the insistent and ever-catchy nature of much of I, the Mask’s choruses which do, admittedly, often hit home. The rest of us are more likely to listen once out of curiosity…..and never listen to it again.
Overall, I,The Mask can be seen as a slight improvement on Battles – based on the first few tracks only – but is fundamentally a further step down the road to complete inconsequentiality. Sadly, there may be no way back for a band who were once at the forefront of the melodeath scene. 5/10