What a career it’s been for In This Moment. After the raging success of their last album Blood (went to number one on the US Hard Rock charts, we’ll have you know), the LA metal band have been in high demand, embarking on tour after tour. There seems to be no stopping these guys; after signing onto Atlantic Records earlier this year, they’re back with their fifth studio album Black Widow. A treat for the fans, the album deals with themes of sex, trauma and individuality, over a blend of dark synths and a whole lotta metal.
The album kicks off with The Infection, a jarring intro that’s sure to be a spine-chiller. It indicates the start of a very wild ride – like opening a creaky door to a haunted mansion, to be exact. Sex Metal Barbie quickly follows and it’s basically everything you’d expect from hard rock, complete with a fist pumping guitar riff. Lead singer Maria Brink switches between a childlike and singsongy voice, resembling something like a possessed child. Though she is versatile – she both sings and screams, moaning and yelling with her wonderfully croaky vocals. You’ll find that a lot of the tracks on this album are quite intense and action-packed; if you hadn’t known better, you might have mistaken this album as a soundtrack for the movie Underworld. Big Bad Wolf, for example, prompts us to envision an unstoppable heroine amidst the jarring guitars and crashing drums. ‘Even in these chains, you can’t stop me!’ she cries, between staccato melodies and jumpy rhythms. There’s a vulnerable moment here too, where Brink breaks down in broken yet determined sobs. But this moment of weakness doesn’t last long before she unleashes a powerful howl – and the effect is so liberating, it’s like letting a monster out of its cage.
Props to In This Moment though, because amidst the chaos of every song lies an important social message. While Dirty Pretty doesn’t pack as much of a punch as its predecessor, its message is loud and clear: screw today’s standards of pretty. Natural Born Sinner, however, adopts more of a no-holds-barred approach. It’s clear that the band aren’t afraid to be confronting; the track starts off with a haunting reading of John 8:7, before breaking off into grungy electronic beats and growling vocals. As the song builds up, it’s clear that the message here glorifies the sinners. ‘Did you think by pushing me, I would become what you want me to be?’ Brink demands. This track may very well become a fan favourite; it’s the ultimate rock anthem for individuality and self liberation.
For those looking to take a breather, the band have provided plenty of that too – in fact, it may be their best material on the album. Sexual Hallucination slows things down with a synth keyboard and smooth vocals – courtesy of Brent Smith from Shinedown. Brink takes her sweet time here, pronouncing every syllable with her breathy vocals. Smith also makes for an excellent addition – the call and answer of both voices create a spectacularly seductive delivery, very much resembling choreography. Together, the singers generate shivering harmonies and an almighty chorus – one that’s sure to drive the fans wild. The Fighter may have an opposite effect however, with its tear-jerking melodies and melancholy piano. Here, Brink’s vocals are low, croaky and full of emotion; she is a beaten woman rising from the ashes. It’s refreshing to hear her sing – despite the croaking she’s able to hit every high note, and not once does her resolve falter. But perhaps the real gem has been saved right near the end with Out of Hell. A song of dashed hopes and bleak futures, it’s another appropriately sombre piece which relies on gentle piano accompaniment. In a brutally honest approach, the track explores heavy themes such as forced prostitution, drug abuse and murder. But even in darkness there is a glimmer of hope – as the track subtly builds, Brink offers words of wisdom and encouragement for those who need it most. Indeed, ‘out of hell, we will climb’ – it’s a moving and vulnerable moment, where the overall message is to always get back up, no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down.
With slashing melodies and meaningful lyrics, In This Moment have set the bar high for their next studio album. Because their current Black Widow is an absolute killer; one that’s going to be hard to beat. Brink is compelling in her vocal technique, bringing each song to life in a unique manner. Don’t be surprised if this album shoots straight to number one again. It is definitely worthy.