Monday, August 20, 2012

Blood | In This Moment

American metal band In This Moment is back with a new album, Blood, which was just released August 14th. Though this new direction is darker and a bit different lyrically, the sound is definitely still representative of the band in more ways than one.

First on the album is an intro entitled "Rise With Me," which is electronic based, effective, and epic. Soon, Maria Brink comes in with her signature vocals, belting out repetative lyrics in a way that doesn't make them sound repetative. This intro certainly promises a dark atmosphere to the album.

With an intro like that, the album's title track seems a bit more, dare I say, fun? But not quite out of place either. "Blood" took a while to grow on me, particularly the verses, which do not feature much singing nor screaming, but yelling. The chorus is what saves this song, as well as the guitar solo during the bridge. As "Blood" can cause headbanging, I'm sure it'll do well as a single on the metal charts for a while.

"Adrenalize" comes next, with a heavy intro. Anyone will know what awesomeness they're in for when Brink says "Adrenalize me" in a nearly robotic way. Quickly, the verse comes in, where Brink's voice is a bit synthed-up amid the (totally cool) guitar riffs. Just about every listener should feel like a badass when listening to this song, or at least overwhelmed as if one just saw Kate Beckinsale in Underworld for the first time. "Adrenalize" is a track that'll get people pumped, even more so than "Blood." Honestly, this better be used in a movie trailer sometime soon.

"Whore" is the fouth song, bearing the loveliest of titles. Though it opens with a semi-mellow guitar line, the verse soon becomes quite emotional in the most obnoxious way. Maria Brink is not singing, but only sometimes screaming. Much like the verses of "Blood," it's more like yelling. However, she does actually sing and scream in the chorus and pre-chorus, which sounds much better. The chorus is very powerful sounding (musically) with tortured lyrics.

If listeners thought the theme couldn't get any angrier after "Whore," the next song proves them wrong. "You're Gonna Listen" demands attention, with Brink screaming "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" during each chorus. The verses aren't even half as heavy as the chorus, and Maria is singing quite nicely during that time, but this is still one of the heavier songs.

As if introducing a more sinister side of Blood, "It is Written" is the creepiest thing In This Moment has ever created. With that, it's the most effective interlude I've ever heard. Am I sure if I like it? Not really. It's great that Maria Brink is talking about the measures of her passion for music, but it's lyrically a bit extreme.

The seventh song is called "Burn," and it is by far my favorite. It opens with an eerie piano before the guitars come in for the rest of the intro, but the piano part returns for the verse. More than anything, the chorus is what blows everything else on this album away in some way. It just feels so nostalgic to me, taking me back to the time I first discovered my own love for rock and metal music as well as the time I started listening to In This Moment. Plus, Maria Brink's voice soars. In some way, "Burn" reminds me of the general vibe of the music on Beautiful Tragedy, In This Moment's debut album, except Maria's vocals have improved so much since then. Also, the bridge has a heavy breakdown that I found enjoyable.

"Scarlet" comes next, opening with acoustic guitars. For whatever reason, the vocal line almost sounds familiar, but perhaps it's just catchy in its own right. Eventually, the tempo picks up and the vocal line gets even better with the great guitar line, making it stand out more than I initially expected.

Another intro/interlude comes next, "Aries," which is also creepy, though not as overly sinister as "It is Written." Really, it's not sinister at all. It brings a hopeless sense of longing as Brink narrates in echoes.

Just in case fans missed elements from In This Moment's sophomore album, The Dream, they incorporated a song on this album called "From the Ashes." Like the music found on The Dream, "From the Ashes" is lighter. Unlike the other tracks on this album, it's more free-spirited and positive. Although it momentarily breaks away from the darkness of Blood, the track is not out-of-place. It's still relatively heavy, especially the guitar riffs of the bridge. In other words, it's still In This Moment.

"Beast Within" is the eleventh track of the album, and I must say I have a love/hate relationship with it. Musically, it's fantastic. Lyrically... kind of annoying amid some brilliant lines. What irks me about it is that the band is practically trying to throw a random attempt at sexiness in your face. The verses and pre-chorus don't really affect me at all; it's the chorus that kind of makes me wonder. Musically, I love the chorus. And I love almost all of the lyrics, but I strongly feel as though the third line had been misplaced. If you take the third line from the chorus, it sounds like vengeance.

The next song is "Comanche." Immediately, I am reminded of Marilyn Manson due to the way Maria Brink's voice is electrified. Following the typical Blood pattern, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the song until the chours, which is filled with screams " or die, let me hear your war cry!" But, it's definitely not the best from the album.

"The Blood Legion (Legion)" is the last of regular tracks, though not the last song. Again, I am reminded of the vibes from the albums The Dream and A Star-Crossed Wasteland as the song begins. Maria's voice sounds nice in this mellow setting, which consists of quite a bit of the song before it changes over to heavier guitars and drums. "The Blood Legion" does what In This Moment does best, as it is a song filled with great riffs as Maria Brink's empowering voice fuels wonderful lyrics of strength.

Honestly, they could have just ended the album there; it would have been a great closer. However, In This Moment decided to be a little more creative with closing the album with "11:11." Or so it would seem. Right away, the song grabs my attention, for it reminds me of the eerie music found in the movie The Woods. The song consists of airy effects and Maria vocalizes in multiple layers, like a choir of Marias. But then the lyrics come in. "Baby baby baby baby baby..." are majority of them. Not impressive. I'll give them credit for the meaning of the song and for the Beautiful Tragedy reference (which are all found in between the series of baby-ing). Unfortunately, Maria's voice (the top layer singing the lyrics, not the choral-like vocalizing) doesn't sound so wonderful on this track.

Well, In This Moment definitely got more creative during Blood, and I loved to see their music get a bit darker than usual. There were a lot of standout tracks on this album, and I do believe that Blood is superior to their previoius work. (Funny how I say that everytime they release a new album.) Amid all this praise, I will say I don't know how I feel about the multitude of songs without standout verses, but then again, all those epic choruses kind of make up for it.

Though I love this album more than A Star-Crossed Wasteland, I'm unsure if I will grant it .5 less than A Star-Crossed Wasteland. Why? Because while they experimented more and I liked the general direction better, I feel there were a couple of flaws on Blood. While A Star-Crossed Wasteland's good songs weren't as good, there weren't really any slip ups. So... 4.5/5 or 5/5 Stars?

If I cut technicality and went with my In This Moment-loving heart, I'd probably say 5/5 Stars. But, you can decide for yourself.

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