Review by Carl “DJ ThunderGod” Pickles
There’s no argument that In This Moment are one of those bands that tend to be something like Marmite – people seem to either love them or hate them. Butcher Babies are another one of those type of bands. Thing is, I LIKE Butcher Babies and think they are unfairly maligned. I’ve got the same kind of feeling about In This Moment. What I’ve heard, I’ve certainly not been turned off by and I am interested in hearing more. Blood was pretty good. How will Black Widow, the band’s latest effort (which arrived in my Amazon Music Player this morning) fare?
In the Wyrd Ways Rock Show Review tradition, let’s take it track by track, shall we?
Sex Metal Barbie lyrically is an obvious stab at Maria Brink‘s critics (if you remember, she was heavily criticized for the cover of the Whore single). It’s probably something she got called somewhere in the media. There’s a strong Marilyn Manson Antichrist Superstar-era influence running through this track. Definitely not a bad thing.
I absolutely adored the use of Black Sabbath‘s Iron Man-style string bends to the beginning of Big Bad Wolf. Again, the Antichrist Superstar influence is incredibly strong here. Same goes for the calmer, robotic groove of Dirty Pretty. Maria Brink certainly proves that she actually can sing in this one, providing slinky vocals with a hint of Eartha Kitt(!) in the delivery during the verses.
Much more Industrial on the title track, Black Widow. Good use of samples and electronic backbeats.
Sexual Hallucination sees a guest appearance from Brent Smith of Shinedown. The effect is something like Donovan’s somewhat surprising appearance on Alice Cooper‘s Billion Dollar Babies – unexpected, but works surprisingly well on what is effectively the album’s ballad.
The first single, Sick Like Me, is the biggest throwback to Blood, toning down the Industrial feel of the album so far. It’s one of the album’s “safe” moments. This is stuff we know they can do, and do well.
Bloody Creature Poster Girl has the twisted cabaret feel to it that In This Moment are so adept at creating. Brink’s vocals bring to mind a predatory, demonic femme fatale. Again, the Industrial tendencies are toned down, with strings creating a more organic, somewhat creepy feel.
A gentle piano opening on The Fighter, matched with a fragile, cracked vocal again brings to mind a twisted cabaret. You can almost see Brink wearing a shimmering red sequinned dress with elbow-length gloves, picked out by a single spotlight. When the rest of the band comes in, backed by a string arrangement, the song goes from small and intimate to a huge lighters-in-the-air arena ballad. Very well done. This shows huge confidence.
Bones brings back the Industrial/Manson influence, but with a more conventional air to the song. Not quite as fearlessly pushing the envelope. If anything, it’s a little too expected. Still a very decent song, though.
Natural Born Sinner, again, is another decent song, but it does feel as if the band have taken their foot off the pedal somewhat. It definitely feels like they’re holding back a little, which doesn’t really suit them.
Into The Darkness is a flesh-crawling spoken piece, ending with Brink wracked by sobs. Hugely atmospheric, somewhat harrowing, leading into the brittle opening of the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a real tour de force. A hugely affecting, emotional, intimate song. Quite possibly the best song on the album. Despite the fact it’s just a piano and a voice, it’s an incredibly powerful, intense piece of music.
While this one certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I found myself really enjoying the experience of the album. It’s a very Modern Metal album. Heavy, Industrial with assured performances from Brink (vocals), Chris Howorth (lead guitar), Travis Johnson (bass), Tom Hane (drums) and Randy Weitzel (rhythm guitar). This is a band who aren’t afraid to experiment, as they show throughout most of the running time. The emotions are raw and powerful, especially on the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a truly effective and affecting piece of music.
To sum up, then, a very good album overall, a very angry album, reminiscent of Otep in a very good way. It’s a strong step up from Blood, with some flashes of dark beauty and sheer brilliance. The dark spirit of Marilyn Manson, back when he was the Antichrist Superstar, and at his best as far as I’m concerned, looms over this album to great effect. On the whole, I’m actually quite sad to say that I can’t give it full marks (although I’d like to, almost purely on the potency of Out Of Hell) because of Natural Born Sinner and Bones, which I feel let the side down a little, so I’ll have to give it a…