'Mother' Review: In This Moment's gothic metal shines with intense power, brooding glory and spiritual gravitas
The American melodic/goth metal outfit In This Moment has made quite an artistic statement and name for themselves in recent years. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, this five-piece outfit consists of charismatic frontwoman Maria Brink, lead guitarist Chris Howorth, bassist Travis Johnson, guitarist Randy Weitzel, and drummer Kent Dimmel. Maria Brink has earned numerous plaudits for her powerful voice and theatrical stage presence, while the band has become a touring staple nationwide, thanks to their rapidly-selling albums 'Blood', 'Black Widow' and 'Ritual', all of which made Top 25 entries in the Billboard 200 chart. Publications like Alternative Press have declared “Maria Brink is the Lady Gaga of the metal world” and went on to term their hard-hitting, symphonic music as "the metal love child of art-pop, gospel, Morrissey and Johnny Cash that the world didn’t know it needed until now.”
And as of last month, In This Moment released their highly-anticipated seventh full-length album called 'Mother'. For the making of this album, the band joined forces with their longtime collaborator Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch) in the studio. They pieced together a 14-track magnum opus steeped in the magical lore they’ve created thus far, which is indicative of yet another spiritual and stylistic evolution. Whereas 'Ritual' hinted at blues-tinged sonic sorcery, 'Mother' weaves the magic of an unbreakable spell over its rapt listeners. “We are so excited to unveil Mother to the world,” said Maria Brink in a press release. “We feel like everything we’ve done has led us to this point and we can’t wait for everyone to experience the next chapter.”
From the droning overtures of the opening track, 'The Beginning (Interlude)' you know you are in for a hell of a ride. "I am the god and the devil around you / I am the heaven and hell you crave," Brink confides in breathy whispers. 'Fly Like An Eagle', with its disembodied chanting, soaring Janis Joplin-esque vocals and thumping rhythm section is a sublime, haunting rendition of the song first made popular by the Steve Miller Band in 1976. 'The Red Crusade (Interlude)' is another eerie, cinematic snapshot, as Brink softly intones, "Holy war / I'm in between."
'The In-Between' features heavily distorted vocals and guitars, interspersed by some ghostly synths. "I'm going to bring a little hell / I'm going to bring heaven" goes the powerful chorus, both menacing and gorgeous at the same time. 'Legacy' continues with some pulsing bass, synths and beautiful melodic guitars as Brink's scratchy, heartfelt vocals inform us, "We are one, reborn free / I am you and you are me / You sacrificed everything / I am and will always be your legacy / Promise I will see you again / On the other side."
Straight after that comes another anthemic cover, accompanied by guest stars Lzzy Hale of Halestorm and Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless. This time it's a symphonic version of Queen's classic 'We Will Rock You', which although more like 'We Will Metal You', definitely rocked our socks off with its pounding majesty. The title track, 'Mother', starts off with a quiet prayer and soft piano, before exploding into life, a rousing ode to the archetypical life-giver and nurturer. "I'll give you my everything / I'll never let you fall," says Maria Brink in her most tender moment on the album.
'As Above So Below' almost feels like you've entered a macabre video game world authored by Marilyn Manson and The Chemical Brothers. It's somehow both wickedly alluring and incredibly danceable at the same time, while carrying vibes of old-school ITM, circa 'A Star-Crossed Wasteland'. It's definitely one of the album standouts, especially the 'give me control' segment, which impresses with its sickeningly good riff and lovely staccato vocals.
Things settle down a bit for 'Born In Flames', as Brink implores us with gravitas over keyboard swells, "Don't you know that we are gods? / Holy blood runs through our veins / Don't you know you're a king raised by queens? Born in flames." The sweeping 'God Is She' sees Brink embracing her inner goddess as she moves effortlessly between dulcet falsettos and sinister incantations over big, booming guitars. It also features some of the most vivid imagery on the album - "I am... the name written on your grave / the sun that you bask and you feed on / the moon that you howl to / the daydream bringing faith and conviction / I am the nightmare you've been crawling through."
'Holy Man' features a lovely bouncy riff and sustained harmonics as Brink implores, "Show me a savior / Show me something I understand / Even the worst kind of sinner is a holy man." The spiritual vibe of the track is further amplified by the eerie church organ at the end. 'Hunting Grounds' is another punishing, pummeling album standout, featuring twin vocals of Brink and Joe Cotela of the band Ded. The duo's throaty voices harmonize wonderfully well amid the melodic guitars, as they insist, "One of us is going down / Let's do this anyway."
The empowering 'Lay Me Down' features some sonorous background vocals that are so deep they sound like Tibetan throat singing. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Brink is at her high-flying, throat-belting best, as she declares "No, you'll never lay me down" amid triumphant blasts of synths and guitar stabs. The album closer, 'Into Dust' is a fitting requiem, starting off with an ominous voice sample before launching into a haunting, reverb-drenched version of Mazzy Star's melancholy classic from 1993.
All in all, this is a pretty stunning album, capable of rendering you awestruck and reverentially silent. The arcane imagery, spiritual overtones, melodic guitars and evocative synths are anchored by Brink's supercharged vocals, which shapeshift from husky whispers to soaring bellows with consummate ease. 'Mother' showcases In This Moment's growing maturity as original songwriters (and impressive cover artistes) and proves that they're more than capable of birthing dark-yet-radiant symphonic greatness.