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Study Break: In This Moment’s ‘Black Widow’ album review

Photo by Luis Blanco via Wikimedia Commons

In recent years, Maria Brink has clawed her way to the top of the mainstream rock charts using her fearless persona, deep vampiric voice and notably dark lyrics. And sure enough, she continues this crusade with “Black Widow,” the fifth album of her band, In This Moment.

Straight out of the door, In This Moment’s singles are noticeably more mature than that of it’s previous album’s, doing away with catchy hooks in favor of more interesting music. This is a step in the right direction musically, but may cause newer fans to have a harder time latching on to the songs.

The first single, “Sick Like Me,” has a ton of weight to it, reminiscent of early Mudvayne and Slipknot. The song’s introduction creates enough adrenaline to pop an artery, though the song owes most of its energy to its large, melodic chorus which is equally demanding and emotional.

On first listen, the song “Sex Metal Barbie” is eye-roll inducing. The music takes more of a background role, maintaining a circulating drumbeat while Brink plays the “no one understands me” card.

However, diving deeper into the song reveals some valid points behind her lyrics, as Brink stabs at the stigma of being a woman fronting a heavy modern rock band. Yes, she has a very sexually-charged image, but that doesn’t make her inept at tearing down borders within the scene with both class and raw aggression.

Despite the band’s clearly changing sound, the catchiest tune on its fifth album is also the most fun to hear.

“Big Bad Wolf” is a trip of chunky guitar riffs and a twisted little story told by Brink, in the spirit of Faith No More on Ecstasy. It’s easily the best song on the album, and serves as a reminder that the band is still capable of creating dramatic, yet entertaining, music.

Unfortunately, similar to previous albums, there is a lot of computer-generated sounds in lieu of musicianship. This creates a lot of white noise, where it is easy to imagine bandmates standing around awkwardly, distanced from Brink.

Even when there is a full band sound, much of the guitar and drum work can be boring and repetitive, like it is in the titular track. The album is also dragged down by the closing track, “Out of Hell,” which feels like a mandatory slow song, killing the buzz of the album rather than putting it to a graceful rest.

But the release is not meant to be a hyper-technical metal album. It’s meant to create excitement and magnitude while maintaining accessible guitar riffs and disturbing vocal presence.

While the album may not reach out to fans of heavier music styles, it won’t disappoint original followers and still manages to differentiate from past releases.

For a well-produced, tight rock album, “Black Widow” doesn’t totally bite.

Photo by Luis Blanco via Wikimedia Commons.

Jake Hutchison can be reached at [email protected] or @poserpunk on Twitter.

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