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In This Moment - Blood (Century Media Records)

By: Matthew Bowling

[5/10] Often times with a release like this, whether thanks to the pre-release hype or the progressive trajectory shown on previous releases, it isn’t difficult to have a solid grasp on what’s coming before you press play. In this case bits of both are readily applicable as the directional shift on 2010’s A Star-Crossed Wasteland saw In This Moment make a conscious shift inward toward a ‘heavier’ sound. The relative dearth of pleasurable listening on that album notwithstanding the lead-off single “Blood” seemed to say almost everything it needed to about Blood and the directions the band had chosen to pursue. While possessing a handful of pleasant moments across its bloated-feeling 48 minute runtime, the majority is an unfortunately hollow and empty experience.

Problems pop up early, the quiet and mostly inoffensive intro track “Rise With Me” giving way to the aforementioned (and outrageously terrible) “Blood.” Lying somewhere between the musical aesthetics of Marilyn Manson circa 2003’s The Golden Age of Grotesque and a mish-mash of late 90s industrial-tinged nu-metal, the song is a complete and utter disaster. Readily apparent from the get-go is the loudness wars are still very much alive and well for releases seeking heavy radio play, every facet of the production screaming out in overbearing fashion, too many hands likely at the knobs. This coupled with the otherwise inane songwriting that dominates the radio-play focused first half of the album results in tracks like “Adrenalize” and “Whore.” The radio-focus of each clearly visible but made all the more puzzling by how little sense the very front-and-center lyrics make.

It isn’t all a wash, for while typical that the front half of the disc is loaded with shreds of stupid that innumerable parties hope will make an impact on the radio, the back half of the disc sees the band lose the attitude blinders a little bit and giving the songs some room to breathe. It is here that several mostly enjoyable basic alt-rock songs emerge from the likes of “Scarlet” and “The Blood Legion,” ephemeral glimpses into the avenues the band can thrive when it isn’t busy catering to the proclivities of teenage angst. Closer “11:11” takes experimentation to a new and surprisingly very pleasant place, the manipulation and layering of Maria Brink’s voice a pleasure to behold.

It is hardly surprising that here and now this is where the band finds itself, darlings (…maybe) of the pop/alt-metal press and privy to the affections of the lowest common denominator. Blood however ,is an exercise in frustration, for every minor glimpse of joy that manages t escape through the cracks the listener is immediately and overwhelmingly bludgeoned to death with ‘brutality’ that was old hat a decade ago. It’s unfortunate to be here because it isn’t bad in the way that an album is when it’s made by people who have neither the talent nor direction to know what they’re doing. No, this is mediocrity by choice from a band that has shown it can do better and do so consistently. Hopefully the fleeting world of pop immortality is found by the band after Blood, for if this is a sign of things to come it’s only going to get worse with time.

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