Okay, it’s time to confess – raise a hand if you’ve ever written the Los Angeles-based metal group IN THIS MOMENT off as just another feel-good metalcore outfit, albeit maybe one with a rather prominent female vocalist. I’m guilty as charged. In spite of actually having become quite fond of some of their biggest hits ever since their 2007 debut, “Beautiful Tragedy,” I definitely didn’t expect their seventh studio album, “Mother” – released today on March 27th, 2020, through Atlantic/Roadrunner Records – to catch me totally off-guard and knock me off my feet. Their previous studio album, “Ritual,” released in 2017, did not prepare me for this. What is this?!? I can’t even…
After a somewhat clichéd cinematic intro track, the band takes on the challenge of breathing new life into one of the most-covered STEVE MILLER BAND songs, ”Fly Like an Eagle.” At first you might be tempted to think, ”C’mon, guys! You can’t be serious!” It’s true that the band’s interpretation takes some digesting, what with the synthetic pulse of industrial-sounding synths and tribal drumming, but it’s worth giving a chance. The cover rendition gives out the vibe of LAIBACH having a casual Sunday brunch with Macy Gray on steroids. As if defying the laws of quantum physics, it actually works.
IN THIS MOMENT seem pretty fearless with their choice of covers; the album comes with two more and the first one of them is none other than the gigantic stadium rock anthem, ”We Will Rock You,” by QUEEN. To be honest, ITM does not really bring anything new to the song with their rendition featuring Lzzy Hale of HALESTORM and Taylor Momsen of PRETTY RECKLESS. Fortunately, it is the only weak track on the album and in all honesty, it is weak mostly in comparison with the original. I guess no band will ever match what QUEEN had done. However, the song is iconic in the most religious sense of the word, meaning it would probably kick ass even with the Teletubbies covering it.
The third cover is the band’s take on Mazzy Star‘s dreamy and haunting 1993 indie-pop evergreen, ”Into Dust.” It brings closure to the album with such a spine-chilling quality that you might just want to wrap your Beyerdynamics around your head, put the song on repeat, and drift off into oblivion. On the other hand, you could switch between two songs, ad infinitum. The ninth track on the album, ”Born in Flames,” imposes the melancholic synth pop virtues of DEPECHE MODE in a metal context so brilliantly it hurts. On this track, vocalist Maria Brink pulls off the amazing stunt of channeling both the trip-hop diva, Angela McCluskey, as heard on the heart-wrenching Télépopmusik track, ”Don’t Look Back,” and Chico Moreno of DEFTONES. The Dave Gahan-fronted icons of haute couture synth pop or the French chefs of Michelin-starred trip-hop cuisines couldn’t possibly be any further from metal. I’m actually pleased, like a dog with two tails, with the fact that ITM have not constrained themselves in the panopticon prison of the metalcore format. Instead, they set the house on fire while standing in the flames with a sarcastic grin.
Whether the album title serves as an overarching allegory of Mother Earth, the fairy godmother, or God herself, one thing is for certain – the new IN THIS MOMENT album is not a collection of sentimental songs about mom. Apart from the title track, which actually is quite a beautiful tribute to mothers, the album comes wrapped in an intriguing quagmire of emotions that balance on the edge between a fever dream and paranoid nightmares. Buying this album for a Mother’s Day special might not be the best thing to do – unless, of course, your momma happens to be a devout metalhead. The weak of stomach may have a hard time attuning to the scope of Brink‘s vocals, ranging from sensual rasp to screaming like a psychotic ex-girlfriend with the haunted tone of a woman born in hell. As a matter of fact, it comprises more than half of the appeal in the band’s metal expression. To put it, figuratively, in the words of AC/DC – she’s got balls.
The album is made of a little bit of everything. ”Lay Me Down” rolls forward like a piece of outlaw country, still maintaining the signature IN THIS MOMENT vibe. The first single from the album, ”The In-Between,” is a stomping metal manifesto of empowerment; maybe the concept on the album actually derives from something like that. Instead of embarking on a holy crusade against the archetypal Father, the album title could simply suggest the band is presenting a manifestation of personal strength – from the female perspective. ”Hunting Grounds” features guest vocals by Joe Cotela of DED, offering a bit of masculine flavor. The duet triggers an instant LACUNA COIL flashback, while ”Holy Man” is a return to the metal-tinted gospel realms of their previous album with a chorus that is catchy like a disease.
To cut a long story short, “Mother” is arguably the best IN THIS MOMENT album to date. The band has aged well – like fine wine. After a number of incarnations and a myriad of releases adorning their resume, ITM have reached that state of equilibrium where they can mix gospel-tinged flavors, dreamy trip-hop soundscapes, Gothic disco, and metalcore, while still maintaining a signature IN THIS MOMENT sound. In all honesty, the album does have a few tracks that do not make much of a mesmerizing impact, such as the most metalcore track, ”As Above, So Below,” and the aforementioned QUEEN cover. However, those particular tracks that are blessed with a haunting quality really get under your skin and deliver the mother (sic!) of all impacts with the full range of emotions.
A true connoisseur with the acquired taste for metalcore with synth-poppy hooks might describe IN THIS MOMENT‘s seventh studio offering as having the rich bouquet of homemade bread, black leather, and chlorine. “Mother” has all the attributes of a Philip K.Dick novel – you can’t be sure whether you’re stuck in a waking dream or in the middle of a nightmare and that’s the beauty of it. True poetry revels in chaos and darkness. A pop hook here and there won’t harm – to lure the moths to the flame.
Some men like to watch the world burn. Others would rather set their own souls on fire. “Mother” by IN THIS MOMENT is an album that is highly flammable.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- The Beginning – Interlude
- Fly Like an Eagle (Queen cover)
- The Red Crusade – Interlude
- The In-Between
- We Will Rock You (Queen cover)
- As Above, So Below
- Born in Flames
- God is She
- Holy Man
- Hunting Grounds
- Lay Me Down
- Into Dust
- Maria Brink – lead vocals, piano
- Chris Howorth – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Travis Johnson – bass, backing vocals
- Randy Weitzel – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Kent Diimmel – drums
Atlantic / Roadrunner
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