"Ritual" By In This Moment
Hard Rock/Released July 21, 2017
In This Moment is definitely a band that's not afraid of risks. Ever since they debuted with Beautiful Tragedy in 2007 nearly every album that has followed was a change in style. While constantly changing their sound has definitely polarized their fan base the band has been on a consistent upward swing. Their two most recent albums, 2012's Blood and 2015's Black Widow, have given In This Moment their highest chart positions, a move to a major label, and their biggest sales with Blood gaining gold status in May 2017. While the band's two previous albums were their first back to back efforts to have a consistent sound, In This Moment is making another stark change with their most recent release Ritual.
Since Blood, In This Moment has switched to a more industrial sound featuring heavy use of electronics and danceable rhythms interspersed with more rhythmic guitar playing than the metalcore style of their earlier work. Included with this change of musical direction came a more sexualized image and lyrical content from frontwoman Maria Brink. On Ritual however the sexual imagery has been greatly toned down with Brink stating she wanted to show a different and deeper side of herself on this most recent release. Ritual also puts forth a more bluesy vibe than previous efforts with much of the electronic elements, while still present, are greatly toned down with a darker and gothic sound being placed at the forefront.
Ritual's themes deal heavily in the topics of spirituality and religion. Inspired by a trip Maria Brink took to Salem, MA, the location of the infamous Salem witch trials. Fittingly much of the album's production is darker,haunting, and raw with a strong gothic rock feel. This album is also much less aggressive than most of the band's work with Brink's signature high screams all but non existent on the record. A full on melodic album isn't too out of place for the band though with the group having done it previously on 2008's The Dream.
"Oh Lord" was the first single released for the record and is a good example of the more melodic turn of the album. It features a prominent "stomp-clap" rhythm with guitars being reserved mostly for the chorus. Brink's vocals and lyrics resemble an old-timey religious hymn put to rock music giving the track a strong bluesy vibe. "Black Wedding" features guest vocals from Rob Halford of Judas Priest and takes inspiration for its chorus from Billy Idol's "White Wedding". This one is a more straight forward rocker with its upbeat vocal melodies and dance rhythms. A dramatic cover of Phil Collin's "In The Air Tonight" is also present on the record. While being a solid cover it's a song that has been done to death by countless artists. And In This Moment don't do much special with the song to set their version apart from most other renditions of the song. Hearing that iconic drum fill still never gets old though,
While Ritual starts off strong there are some downsides. The band repeats themselves on some of the later tracks with "Joan Of Arc" having a very similar vibe to "Black Wedding" including the same drum rhythm. "River Of Fire" commits this sin even worse with the song having the same stomp clap patterns and "whoa oh" vocalizations as lead track "Oh Lord". Late album track "Roots", which was the second single released for the album, is one of the harder rocking songs found but follows the same lyrical idea and patterns as "Blood" from the In This Moment album of the same. Other revisits of style are more welcome however with the songs "Witching Hour" and "Half God Half Devil" harking back to the more electronic and industrial sound of previous records with the latter being a favorite from the album. Closing track "Lay Your Gun Down" is a solid album closer ballad but the other slower songs of the album such as "Twin Flames" and "No Me Importa" are much more preferred.
Six albums and twelve years into the band's career, In This Moment are still an ever changing chameleon of a band. Despite the groove found and sharp upward swing of success the band had with their industrial turn they still look to explore new ground and take risks. Ritual still sounds like In This Moment but there's enough uncharted territory explored to keep the band interesting. While the band's long time fans may be disappointed in the overall lack of heaviness with the record, there's still a number of quality tracks to keep fans new and old entertained. While not as deep as some of the band's previous work this is still a solid listen for most rock fans.