When it comes to In This Moment, there seems to be a distinct division between two types of fans: Those who loved the band pre-‘Blood,’ and those that favor their more recent works. Many old school ITM listeners prefer the days of circle pits and brutal tracks such as “Welcome to the Gun Show” and “Blazin,’ simultaneously denouncing the band as no longer being a unit, but rather a part of the “Maria Brink Show.” This includes putting the spotlight on the charismatic and stunning front woman Maria Brink Wonderland, as well as her backup dancers called “Blood Girls.” Few such as myself find themselves smack dab in the middle, equally embracing the group’s songs and their showmanship. As someone who has seen them live once a year for the last several years, I eagerly obtained a copy of their latest album ‘Ritual,’ which was released July 21st, as soon as it hit shelves. The theme of this album seems to focus on “Mother Maria,” painting her in the sinner/saint light that she herself has played into on many occasions (most notably in the song “Whore.”) The mood of the record is undoubtedly lighter, with all 12 songs sounding just a smidge softer than previous efforts. Let’s get down to the pros and cons of ‘Ritual,’ shall we?
Let’s begin with the good. The record is well-rounded, well produced, and naturally well played, featuring flawless musicianship from all of the artists, including drummer Kent Dimmel who is brand new to the band. Two major highs comes in the form of “Oh Lord” and “River of Fire,” both of which were on the set list for their shows well before the release of the record. Likewise, both songs SLAYED live, and completely transfixed the fans, a difficult feat when it comes to brand spankin’ new material. Another song that was added early to their live roster was “In The Air Tonight,” a Phil Collins cover that the band flawlessly made their own. “Roots,” a powerful number about taking other’s negativity and turning it into a positive, is yet another highlight of this record, and offers a message of self love and acceptance, a theme that is prominent in much of In This Moment’s work.
Now, onto the negative. It kills me to say bad things about this band, but some things can’t be ignored. “Black Wedding,” a duet featuring Rob Halford, is obviously a nod to the Billy Idol track “White Wedding,” but lacks the originality and the edgy charm of the original. Then there’s the song “Witching Hour.” Personally, I loved this song. HOWEVER, it is undeniably similar to the She Wants Revenge track “Tear You Apart” in nearly every single way. The beat is identical, as is the delivery. Now, it’s very possible this is an innocent coincidence, however we simply suggest you listen to the two songs back to back and make come to your own conclusion. (Then feel free to share that conclusion in the comments section!)
Despite any negativity, In This Moment never releases a “bad” album. It’s always solid from beginning to end, and ‘Ritual’ is no exception. And while some are put off by their showmanship, I personally appreciate and applaud the band’s desire to stimulate fans not only musically but visually as well. No one complains when Marilyn Manson is banging at a pulpit and cutting himself with bottles, but Maria Brink dons a dunce cap and accentuated attire and Lord almighty do people lose their minds! ‘Ritual’ may not have the same brutal bite as, say, “Prayers” from ‘Beautiful Tragedy,’ but evolving is part of longevity. I mean, just think about it for a second: Would you want to work in the same job for 10 years and never be promoted? Uh….NO. You want to move up the ladder, which is EXACTLY what this band is doing. They’re making metal more accessible AND making their success a ritual, and there is nothing wrong with that.