In these times that we hide from the coronavirus behind a mask, Grégoire Mehl's "Behind the Mask" sounds very relevant. Though, the song is not about the coronavirus pandemic, it is about the pandemic of all generations: hiding one's real self and putting on an act. This is symbolized by a social "mask" people put on everyday.
The song starts right off the bat with an interesting rhythmic choice: The drums start at the & beat of the rhythmic division initially perceived, and continue like this throughout. Though, as the verse enters, the robotic sounds that are the basis of the song disappear. The keyboard plays a minimal and repetitive melody, and the guitar enters with a simple solo-ish backing to the verse. It's interesting to hear how the vocals and guitar leave their place to the keyboard during the chorus. The style closely resembles a fusion of Porcupine Tree and Opeth, but I've never heard the keyboard used such dominantly in prog metal. As a build-up to the second verse, the guitar repeats the verse bassline and matches it with the robotic backing sound in a slow crescendo.
There is a significant shift in the flow after the second chorus. Any Porcupine Tree fans can immediately recognize an Arriving Somewhere influence on this part. Not sure if it was conscious, but the flow of the second part is very similar to Arriving Somewhere's last few minutes. The shift is signaled with a short bridge that sets to tone to a notch darker, cleverly by emphasizing the phrygian dominant mode's b2 degree. The next section includes variations of a base linear metal riff. Starting with the bass, the riff moves on to a muted guitar and finally to full-blast distortion. An interesting addition to this is the repetition of the first 2 lines of the lyrics when transitioning to the solo.
Barely awake, blurry eyes You put on your mask, another you
The rest of the lyrics criticize the nature of this phoniness and implores us to return from this mistake. Yet, starting and ending on this note indicates that people will not listen to him and continue to put on this mask anyways. The mellow acoustic ending supports this tone of acceptance.
It turns out, the French CAN do prog.