Masquerade - Flux Metal Blade - 2001 /images/covers/Masquerade.jpg The first time I popped this album into my CD player I really had no clue what I was going to hear. I had never heard of Masquerade and at first I just let the CD collect dust while I listened to other albums. This was a total mistake by me! This album instantly hooked me with its groovy, hard rock style of music. The music sounds a lot like Soundgarden and some of the other mainstream alternative bands. Flux provides a totally different musical experience than the rest of my CD collection. Masquerade hail from Sweden and the band consists of Tony Johansson (Vocals), Thomas G:son (Guitars), Marko Grönholm (Drums), and Henrik Lundberg (Bass). One of the greatest assets of Masquerade is the singing of Tony. His voice is controlled and shows a lot of range at the appropriate times. Another great aspect about his voice is that he does not sing with an accent and it almost sounds like he is from the States. The guitar playing by Thomas is also very good. He can go from fast heavy riffs to very emotional passages. The drumming by Marko and the bass of Henrik are also of note. There is a lot of variety throughout the album and it makes each song really memorable. The majority of the songs are mid-tempo and not very fast. They all stay in the same general pace but at times during the songs the speed picks up. Despite this, the songs are able to maintain their own qualities without blending into each other. The first song A Me and An I is a mid-tempo song with some aggressive singing by Tony and a chugging pace played by the instruments. There are some cool leads played by Thomas. Back On Earth is more of a rock ballad and it is extremely catchy and groovy. The intro is characterized by another great lead by Thomas and played during the chorus. The solo is one of the best found in the album. During the verses, Tony sings by himself backed up by some simple guitar strumming. Tonys singing in this song is very emotional and really shows off his voice rather well. My favorite songs are My Dying Days and the hidden track right after it Familiar Faces. My Dying Days is a darker song than the rest of the songs. The driving drumming by Marko is powerful and really the best part of this song. It has a steady, rhythmic, almost tribal pace. The tempo is also a little slower than the rest of the album. The guitar playing is distorted, really simple and quite groovy and complements the drums really well. The singing by Tony is lower and it reminds of Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. During the last part of the song, the guitar kicks in a little louder. Familiar Faces is probably the fastest song in the album. It provides quite a contrast to My Dying Days. The guitars are heavy and the singing is aggressive. Flux was an unexpected surprise and it is really a joy to listen to this album. This is probably not an album for every single metal fan. But if you feel like trying something totally different and unique you should really check out Masquerade. Dont judge this album just because it has qualities from the mainstream alternative bands. If you cant find something great after listening to this album, something is definitely wrong with you.