ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Mother’ by In This Moment

For as hokey as they can often appear, there is a genuinely understandable reason for why people like In This Moment. In a hard rock scene that’s glutted with facsimiles of posturing, meatheaded bros with little impetus to move past that, there’s at least a bit of deviation coming from In This Moment, thanks to a reliance on image especially spurned on by frontwoman Maria Brink, and a sound that’s been known to incorporate electronics and industrial touches to at least attempt to stand as its own thing. But while that’s admirable, it can’t mask the fact that this is a band who feel desperately deep in the ‘style over substance’ well, such is the lack of real prevailability their material has had for a good few years now. All they’ve really got is in-scene inertia, and without the big crossover smash that plenty of other hard rock and alt-metal bands have that reaches out of their immediate catchment area – coupled with an overall sound and Brink’s delivery that can range from an acquired taste to totally unpalatable – it’s hard to get all that excited to see this band keep going, regardless of what they bring to the scene.

And if they were ever to come out with an album that epitomises that mindset, it would undoubtedly be Mother. By the standards of In This Moment which can fall pretty low, this isn’t a terrible album, and the fact that they’ve strived to go beyond the means of typical radio-metal is good, but it’s so easy to happen upon flaws in the execution or decisions that just feel confused or with no real thought process behind them. For an album that’s aiming for something high-concept, In This Moment don’t do a whole lot to prove that they’re capable of pulling it off, and that leaves Mother feeling like sort of a mess. Occasionally moments of quality do shine through, but that’s more from a law of averages perspective than what feels like any creative decision-making. And when that’s all taken into account, In This Moment end up in the exact unstable position they’ve been in for a good, long time.

And you don’t even have to wait long until that all comes to fruition, as a cover of The Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like An Eagle sandwiched between two interludes to start the album off is a fair indicator of the botched decisions that feel rather prominent on Mother. The bizarre sequencing is definitely an issue, but the cover itself as a brooding, juddering industrial take on the track falls incredibly flat in a buildup that never properly climaxes or leads anywhere. Granted, it’s not even the worst cover on here with a ‘deconstructed’ (read: irredeemably messy) rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You alongside Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale and The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen taking that dubious honour, but it’s a good encapsulation of how a lot of In This Moment’s creative decisions go awry. Layering their sound with an industrial grind can work when it’s played for intensely heavy blows on a track like The In-Between or reshaped into a more anthemic, hard rock guise on As Above, So Below, but trying to funnel it into mid-paced, mid-level plodders just ends up drawing attention to how overwrought the production can be. The film fed into the drums on Legacy and Holy Man give them a sterility and fakeness that never sounds appealing, and while there’s admittedly some strong metallic crunch to the guitars (even if any bass presence is almost universally swamped out), the immobility that cripples a good number of these songs means that there’s nothing for them to do except blindly roar out to fill space. When there’s a bit more tact in play like the more low-key title track or some modern metalcore energy lent by Ded’s Joe Cotela on Hunting Grounds, it makes for a more interesting version of In This Moment’s sound, but the fact that there isn’t a lot there to begin with doesn’t set things up in the band’s favour.

It’s a shame that’s such an underwhelming reality when there are big ideas at play, namely In This Moment flipping religious iconography to reflect a more feminine presence and persona within them. That’s not a bad idea in itself, especially with a vocalist like Maria Brink helming such an idea which, for as divisive as her croaky, unkempt singing style can be, feels like the right sort of thing to match the magnitude of her role within the band; she is the de facto face of the band, and projecting that across such a concept has some decent mileage to it. It does disappoint slightly that they don’t run with it further though, as where the likes of the title track, Born In Flames and God Is She can apply the theme with a good command of imagery and slightly sinister mood, the only reason the whole thing struggles to take off can only be attributed to In This Moment themselves. It’s not like Fly Like An Eagle is a tone-setter regardless of how it’s contorted to sound weirder and more demonic, and the flippancy of sticking to the concept does run through Mother a fair bit. It sheds a lot of the intrigue that In This Moment build up with this album and ends up feeling like another forgettable edition in this band’s wheelhouse, not helped by how long it runs and how nondescript a good number of these songs can be.

That’s really where the criticisms of Mother hold the strongest; there’s not enough dragging it down to be something truly awful, but the real highs are in equally short supply. It’s about as profoundly middling as it comes, and when that’s the general impression that In This Moment have created of themselves as it is, there’s nothing that leaves a lasting impression beyond how poor some of the choices made can be. Even then, it’s not dragged to the depths by them, but it would also be a hell of a lot less interesting to talk about if they weren’t there, such is the non-presence that In This Moment embody. They’ve got ideas with very limited ways of executing them and a sound that cuts down their options even further, and if that isn’t the entirety of In This Moment in a nutshell, then nothing is.

5/10

For fans of: Flyleaf, Mudvayne, Kittie
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘Mother’ by In This Moment is out now on Atlantic Records.

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