In Praise of Maria Brink and In This Moment

Black WidowBloodChris HoworthIn This MomentKevin ChurkoMaria BrinkRitualThe Dream+-
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Throughout my life I’ve only sporadically dabbled in the so called ’Heavy Metal’ genre. Of course there has been the odd phase and odd song and album, but normally I don’t go much heavier than Van Halen. So it was total serendipity that I came across the ’Metal’ band ’In This Moment’ over the Christmas holidays.

 

I was sick for the greater part of the Christmas holiday and bed-ridden for most of that - I watched no TV or YouTube even for the first week of the holidays, and then at my first attempt somehow accidentally came upon a YouTube feature about Leading Ladies of Rock or something like that. Maria Brink was barely mentioned - I think I came across something in the comments - I then watched a video or two or three or more, and before I knew it I was regularly viewing / listening to all of the In This Moment YouTube videos (bar a few). A couple of days later I had acquired their 3 most recent albums, and since then I’ve trawled through all their back-catalogue and added those tracks which I like to my collection.

 

The band’s first album ’Beautiful Tragedy’ (2007) is not really to my liking as it is full-on screamo Metalcore - I’ve never been a fan of that genre of metal - I prefer proper singing really in its various guises. The amazing thing about principal artist Maria Brink is the versatility of her voice - from whisper to a scream, lovely low husky singing to full-throated delivery - she can do it all. Alongside lead guitarist Chris Howorth they are actually ’the band’ - with other musicians changing more regularly. It seems like Maria is very much the principal song-writer and lyricist here while Chris focuses more on the instrumentation and arrangements.

 

In fact the heart of the band is really Maria plus Chris, and plus producer of albums 2-6 - one Kevin Churko. Kevin applies the production magic which mixes in electronic instrumentation, textures, harmonies and very much evolves the core sound of the band.

 

So I don’t particularly like the first album - which was not produced by Kevin, and which contains very much screaming and shouting vocals which are just too harsh for my ears. There is the occasionaly cool hook, but for me as a whole it does not really gel. Things don’t really start moving for me until the second album ’The Dream’ (2008) which is a significantly softer album with more memorable melodies and proper singing - and standout moment being the live rendition of ballad ’Into the Light’ which totally eclipses the throwaway album version. Anyway - I like about half the tracks on the second album.

 

On the third album ’A Star-Crossed Wasteland’ (2010) ITM goes much harder - and more like their debut album - possibly in response to a muted baclash from some of the fans for the softer sophomore album ’The Dream’. I only like a handful of tracks on ’Wasteland’ as it’s more back to screaming and emoting, and has fewer hooks or memorable melodies - at least for me.

 

In fact I find it is on the 4th album ’Blood’ (2012) that ITM really hit their stride - with a full album’s worth of quality output, sustained through follow-up albums ’Black Widow’ (2014) and the most recent ’Ritual’ (2017). ’Blood’ adds more theatrical and gothic flavours, and much more of a hooky even pop-like sensibility. Rhythmically the tracks are fairly ’funky’ as such, with electronic textures, alongside those amazing percussive and strident proper metal guitar chords - with Maria’s soaring vocals front and centre.

 

The 5th album ’Black Widow’ probably has the most significant electronic textures, while the latest ’Ritual’ is more organic in feel and ’swampy’ even as described by the band - has a certain drenched Louisiana vibe to many of the tracks. I like all 3 recent albums pretty much equally - although I listen mostly to ’Blood’ and ’Black Widow’ - I’m still getting fully to grips with ’Ritual’.

 

Here then follow the videos for 10 of my favourite In This Moment Tracks (alphabetical):

 

In This Moment have not really gained sufficient popularity in the UK as yet and have therefore toured little here as a result - while they are a runaway success in the USA now and with a significant following in Japan and Germany. It’s a long time since I’ve been so wholly enamoured with a band, and I’ve listened to little else for these last couple of weeks - I do hope that they gain more of a foothold here so we can more easily catch them live.

 

I see that they are performing at the Download Festival this year (8-10 June, Donington Park) - but I’m not sure I want to stand in a field for 3 days just to catch an hour or so of my new favourite band. I would prefer to see them as headliners in an arena with their own show.

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