Riding the success of their last album the masterful The Dream most fans of the metalcore genre eagerly awaited this release. Could the band continue with their winning formula? Would the songwriting of Maria Brink stand up to what she has previously done? Setting the bar as high as they did on the last go around, it would be a monumental task to equal it. Well, don't fret as Maria, Chris, Jeff, Blake and newcomer Kyle Konkiel not only deliver on the new disc, they literally rewrite the standards by which all who come after are going to be judged by. From the hardest metal that they ever produced to the mesmerizing and touching melodic songs, In This Moment shows that they are a band that will never rest on its past achievements and will continue to blaze a trail that others are destined to follow.
Like many others my first exposure to this album was the release of the single "Gunshow". For all who thought they have softened, this is one of the most in your face metal songs to come along in quite some time. With six guns blazing and Maria's patented screams, In This Moment proves that they can be as hard as anyone on the planet. I cannot wait to see them perform this one live since it is the harshest metal song they have come up with but still retains a sound that is totally In This Moment. Of course a lot of that has to do with the special lady that is singing and screaming her heart out night after night. Maria has to turn it up a notch to keep up with the electrifying guitar work of Chris and Blake on this tune but there is little doubt that the best female singer in metal is more than equal to the task. With the old west theme to this song, the first thought that came into mind is Sharon Stone in the movie The Quick and the Dead. The vision of the tough as they come woman combined with the feminine persona she projects is the ultimate good girl/bad girl. Maria is metal's version of Ellen in that movie.
The theme of the album is a post apocalyptic world where star crossed lovers are doomed to fail in the wastelands. The band does paint a much darker picture with this disc than their previous ones but do so with such a masterful stroke that you will find yourself lost in the aura they create.
And what a vast landscape they paint with this album. As the song "Just Drive" displays with its acoustic start that builds to a turbulent vocal duel between Maria's harsh screams and her own dynamic singing style. This one is the most reminiscent of the last disc and really captures the sound that defines the band if there is such a thing as they are a multi branched tree with metal at the root.
Adrian Patrick, lead singer of the band Otherwise makes a guest appearance when he adds his potent vocals to the song "The Promise". With a great singing style and a nasty harsh metalcore scream, he is the counterpoint to Maria as they shift their singing styles to offset the other in such a way as to make you believe that we are listening to the star crossed lovers themselves. We also get the first tender moments of the disc with some soothing keyboard work woven into the mix and Jeff Fabb on drums and newcomer Kyle on bass doing some magnificent work. The backbone of any band is their rhythm section and you will hear how well these guys work together on this song and for that matter on the whole disc. I really like the style Kyle uses on this one and Jeff, well, he is just Jeff! One of the really great drummers to come along he does so much more than just keep the beat, he sets the whole tone of this one.
Although this might be considered a darker album then their previous work, it doesn't mean that it is a complete downer. The anthem like "Standing Alone" works on different levels as it comes across to me as a statement of do it yourself if you want it done right. Don't depend on others or you will fail.
The bleak and desolate backdrop of the album is the canvas on which they paint the title track "A Star-Crossed Wasteland". The haunting piano sets the tone of isolation to this triumph of a power ballad that emphasizes the captivating singing voice of Miss Brink. Soaring to heights that few can obtain, In This Moment shows us once again that the melodic can be just as dramatic and powerful as their full blown metal attack. It also makes the fierceness of their metalcore side that much more dynamic.
Such is the case when they come out "Blazin'" on the next song where all hell breaks loose and the duel guitar attack of Chris and Blake set a searing pace as they trade solos between the spine tingling screams of Maria. When they crank it up there is no one heavier and more potent than In This Moment. If you want to see and hear mayhem, front row center at the next ITM concert is the place to be. Just remember that you are going to get a good dose of the many facets to this band and all are powerful and compelling in their own way.
This time around ITM seems to let the guitarist strut their stuff a bit more and their depiction of life on "The Road" exemplifies this. It has some of the fieriest six string work on the record and for that matter in their catalog. The duel guitar attack strikes it up for metal once more and we are the benefactors of their work.
One of my favorites on the disc has to be "Iron Army" which combines all the elements that make this such a great band. This could be the theme song for The Headbangers Ball with its anthem like quality and Maria using both vocal styles to perfection even including an extended scream that you will feel from your head to your toes! This is as good as it gets in the world of metalcore and I would think by this time in the review you have already pulled up their web page and are listening to what I am talking about. Maybe even have the credit card out to get this terrific disc on order. And to think, there is still more music on this album to go.
There is no weak spot on the album. From start to finish each song is a memorable treat onto itself. Each has a unique quality that endears it to you and will certainly become a staple in your music rotation. In This Moment takes you through this wasteland with its soaring peaks and deep valleys and hits you hard, hits you often and hits you where most cannot even reach. By the time you are brought to the album closer "World In Flames" it has been an amazing journey. They send you off in a most dramatic fashion with this song that captures everything that has transpired prior to it and wraps it up in a way that will leave you wanting more and hitting the repeat button as the last notes fade. It is an album you cannot listen to without feeling something. This one is from the heart and when a band gives all it has, it shows. In This Moment leaves nothing in the studio and has delivered a most powerful musical statement. This one is a no brainer as it is easily one of the best of the year and it is going to be hard to find more enjoyable disc period.
There are a few versions of the CD, the regular version with ten songs and a deluxe version which has two bonus tracks. You can also buy it with assorted package offers. If you can latch onto the deluxe version it contains another terrific song called "Remember" and a live acoustic version of the title track "A Star-Crossed Wasteland". It is well worth having.
Few bands have captured the attention and the spirit of metal as In This Moment. Without a doubt they are one of the best and are only getting better. With each release there is a growth and maturity to their music that makes it more riveting than the previous one. I never thought that they would top The Dream but I was wrong and now the anticipation of what comes next has been raised to a fever pitch. Can they continue to outdo themselves? We will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, just go grab a copy of A Star-Crossed Wasteland and enjoy what could very well be the album of the year.
2. Just Drive
3. The Promise
4. Standing Alone
5. A Star-Crossed Wasteland
7. The Road
8. Iron Army
9. The Last Cowboy
10. World In Flames
11. Remember (Bonus)
12. A Star-Crossed Wasteland(Unplugged)