Let’s talk about the elephant in the room straight away: Maria Brinks’ image and the way she is perceived. Countless rock n’ roll dudes have strapped cod pieces on and sauntered about on-stage to both male and female adulation down the years with little hand-wringing and perhaps Brink is no different – just carrying on an old rock tradition. Sex is, after all an important part of rock’s make-up. But In This Moment feel different; more cynical in pushing Brink out front looking like Dolly Parton fronting a biker band – it’s incongruous and elevates a run of the mill band to greater commercial heights than their song-writing talents would alone.
Brink and her cohorts are either unwitting contributors to this reduction of women’s contribution in metal to simply their looks or she is, to use the Katie Price/Jordan Defence, using men’s most reductive sexual desires for her own gain on her own terms – a capitalist using all of the resources available to her to get the band listened to. Could it be that Brinks nails it on the head when she sings on the anguished Whore: “Let me tell you something baby / You love me for everything you hate me for”? In the end, it is a shame to be discussing her looks rather than the music on Blood but that in itself says a lot about In This Moment; they are almost irretrievably bland.
On their fourth release – Blood – In This Moment cough up a chundering sputum of hairspray rock and nu-metal as if Brink thought the best thing to do was to be the girl that all those slobbering, platinum selling mummy’s boys with their ratty dreads and tracksuits lusted after but could never have back in the early noughties by adopting all their tropes. This isn’t done particularly subtly exhorting the music [and you] “to fuck her” at the end of It is Written and generally ladling the album with banal sex (I’m a dirty, dirty girl I want it filthy) and humour-free teenage rage (Shut! Shut! Shut! Shut, shut the fuck up! You’re gonna listen this life is mine!). Fear not, though, I did listen all the way to the end of the record taking in the Chino Moreno aping vocal style of Adrenalize, those “shut, shut, shut up!” lyrics pinched from Linkin Park on You’re Gonna Listen and the overwrought pitch for radio play From the Ashes.
The monolithic down-tuned chuggery of guitarists Chris Howorth and Randy Weitzel is used in different amounts depending on what kind of “dark sinfulness” we are meant to be experiencing and dashes of the currently ubiquitous EDM keys mixed with NiN style industrial touches and acoustic wittering are also thrown in with Brink’s tormented vocals pulling the album this way and that. Generally, Blood as a product is as solid and well-produced, if overlong, as you’ll get but it’s ultimately an album where In This Moment try a few new things but that just fails to catch light, leaning too heavily on cliches and second hand ideas from already tired or past their best bands.
From the trajectory In this Moment have followed thus far in their career from hustling and harrying their way to prominence via Ozzfest and dubious magazine covers to the ‘more mature’ sounds on Blood I would not rule out the possibility of the band ditching the metal distorted guitars and the modicum of heaviness employed therein altogether and becoming one of those big ballad, salt of the earth rock bands (think Nickelback) the US still makes stars of. Songs like Scarlet undoubtedly point the way but who will follow?