• Michael Ireland

Masquerade in the Key of Crime: A Freegal Album Review

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Album cover for The Stryder-  front facing shot of band members running down an alley

Masquerade in the Key of Crime is the first album from New York-based band, The Stryder. Released in September of 2000 through Equal Vision Records, it’s also their best. Granted they only released two as a group. What is the meaning or significance of the title and how does it relate to the album conceptually or artistically? I haven’t a clue, but the imagery is nice and thematically consistent with the album’s feel. Why review a twenty-year-old, relatively obscure album from a band that is no longer together? Because it’s totally decent and totally free for our patrons to stream. If you’re reading this review and you haven’t seen our post regarding our music streaming service Freegal, I recommend checking that out first.

Being a musician and home studio hobbyist, I’d like to believe that I have a pretty analytical ear. However, what makes music appealing is highly subjective and dependent on listener preferences. If you’re a rock or indie rock fan I think this album will interest you. Firmly in the Emo / Post-Hardcore / Indie phase of the early 2000s, the band’s sound is reminiscent of acts like Saves the Day, Brand New, The Get Up Kids, and the like. If you’ve never heard of these genres or bands, don’t worry about the particulars of subgenres or influence. It’s a rock album through and through.

Black electric guitar

Before tackling individual tracks, I’d like to address the overall sound of the album. Oddly enough, I stumbled across this group while researching guitar tones. The guitars are crunchy, articulate, and dynamic in the mix. These tonal characteristics allow them to pull off more subdued and gentle lines that pepper the album while still retaining a good bite. The drum mixing complements the tone and style well. The kick response is punchy, and the snare is tight and bright, with a wide reverb and heavy diffusion that give it an almost 80’s like effect. Vocals are well seated and the backing harmonies sound great but are too reserved and sparse to be of note. As for the low end, it’s unfortunately absent. The bass, when you can distinguish it, tends to follow the guitar lines and never really cuts through the mix. I won’t bore you with a track by track analysis, but we’ll look at a couple of the standouts.