Album: Black Widow
Release Date: 17/11/14
Label: Atlantic Records
Los Angeles based metal act In This Moment begun their musical career as a fairly standard metalcore outfit, albeit one given an extra shot of credibility by front-woman Maria Brink’s distinctive and powerful voice. However, they were never content to reside in that box, and each successive album has seen them incorporate a wider variety of genres and influences into their sound. Their last album ‘Blood’ was controversial among their fans, but added more of an electronic edge to their sound and showed substantial evolution from their earlier efforts. With ‘Black Widow’ In This Moment complete their transition into true genre-straddling modern metal heavyweights.
‘Sex Metal Barbie’, is a perfect example of how this band refuses to be restrained by genre barriers. It begins with a slow, hip-hop influenced electronic beat that wouldn’t sound out of place pounding away in a strip club, then moves into a heavy guitar riff seemingly straight from a Meshuggah album. Over the top of this heady cocktail Maria Brink snarls darkly poetic lyrics, taunting those who would disparage her and her band. Next up is ‘Big Bad Wolf’, an entirely different proposition altogether, somewhat reminiscent in sound of Otep, but with a heaping dose of extra aggression. It’s a ferocious war cry of a song, which sees Brink swap her syrup-coated snarl for aggressive semi-rapped vocals and throat shredding screams, which are delivered with maximum rage over a positively thunderous drumbeat. This is powerful stuff; nu-metal re-invented and pumped full of steroids.
Of course not every song can be a roaring success, and the title track is actually one of the weakest moments on the album, a lightweight, if catchy mix of electronica and metal which fails to make an impact like many of the other songs here do. However, that’s the peril of making an album where no two tracks sound the same, and such inventiveness is bound to lead to the occasional mis-step. At the other end of the quality scale is ‘Sexual Hallucination’ a ballad of exceptionally haunting beauty, which features the distinctive vocals of Shinedown frontman Brent Smith. In fact, between the steamy lyrics, the perfectly placed male/female vocal interplay and sinuous combination of piano and synths that provide a musical background to said lyrics, this could well be the sexiest song ever written. That’s quite the achievement, especially given the nature of the unbridled aggression which characterises the rest of the album, and it’s nice to see that In This Moment can do tenderness as well as they can do ball-busting rage onslaughts.
So, overall In This Moment’s gamble with ‘Black Widow’ paid off. They’ve created an album that’s by turns dark and aggressive, yet also sensual and hopeful in places, but above all else it’s memorable. Not only do all the songs sound distinct from each other, they also sound distinct from what many other bands are doing right now and are certainly a huge step up from anything In This Moment have previously recorded. This album is ominous, musically powerful and occasionally searingly personal, and that makes it one of the most compelling things you’ll hear all year.