By In This Moment
Right from the start, it's clear In This Moment are desperate to distance themselves from their metalcore debut 'Beautiful Tragedy.'
Kicking off with the short intro 'Rabbit Hole,' In This Moment begin to sound vaguely like female-fronted, operatic goths Within Temptation. Arty, spoken word vocals, eerie sound effects and a piercing Middle Eastern wail, may see this song edge away from 'atmospheric' and towards 'pretentious,' but you can imagine the stage lights cutting out and this song playing over the speaker system as In This Moment take to the stage, and the crowd lapping it up.
The album's first 'proper' song, and current single, is the galloping, polished rock of 'Forever.'
Frontwoman Maria Brink's vocals will be the deal maker or deal breaker here. She's a powerful vocalist, but there's something potentially annoying about her tendency to end every line in a gasp.
'Forever's lyrics are pop-rock, ala Avril Lavigne, with the chorus in particular bordering on cheesy. But, it all fits the image; this is incredibly accessible pop-rock with galloping riffs that give the impression it rocks harder than it actually does.
'All For You' is another slab of glossy, stadium-aspiring rock, with darker passages balancing out the whiff of power pop that surrounds the chorus.
In This Moment wisely keep the pedal-to-the-metal, as the choruses hurtle past, and even the guitar-light verses have a driving underlying drumbeat. 'You Always Believed' and 'Violet Skies' follow a similar fast and fun formula, both boasting a shamelessly over-the-top, sing along chorus where Maria belts out those lyrics like she's singing a power ballad.
In This Moment come over all 'The Open Door'-era Evanescence for the doomy, goth-infused 'Lost At Sea.'
Maria thankfully loses the fake-gaspy edge and delivers a genuinely tormented performance. This new-found vocal desperation is accompanied by In This Moment finally giving Maria some real noise to contend with, as the chorus is jam-packed with grinding riffs. It all makes Maria's voice seem even more harassed, and results in a dramatic listen.
The verses are all brooding guitar-picking and spine-tingling backing vocals that Amy Lee would be proud of. 'Lost At Sea' is what the whole of this album should sound like.
The vocal experimentation continues with 'Mechanical Love.' Unfortunately, in this instance it's a hit and miss affair. Maria puts in a passionate pre-chorus vocal performance, her voice hustling the listener towards a chorus that seems guaranteed to be very dramatic. However, 'Mechanical Love' then erupts into multi-layered, piercing high notes that are actually pretty painful to listen to, as In This Moment go for the dramatic angle perhaps a little too enthusiastically.
Despite In This Moment's apparent desire to be seen as more than just a metalcore band, there are two songs that make strong nods towards the band's back catalogue.
'The Great Divide' is easily 'The Dream's most metalcore offering, and sees Maria doing a frighteningly good impression of Lamb of God's Randy Blythe, alternating between a throat-destroying howl and demonic, semi-tuneful snarling.
'Her Kiss' ricochets between the old metalcore and new, poppy extremes of In This Moment's personality. The verses plod doomily along, occasionally breaking into a Mediterranean riff that gives this song its own distinctive personality. The bridge section is even heavier, as Maria breaks out into blood-curdling screams.
However, at the other end of the scale, we get a chorus of In This Moment's poppiest vocals, and more of those cheesy, sing along lyrics. That both extremes work is undeniable, it's just jarring when Maria launches straight from throat-shredding, hardcore screams, to a bouncily catchy chorus. In terms of keeping older fans happy, 'The Great Divide' is the forerunner of the two.
'Into The Light' is the obligatory piano ballad, ala Evanescence's 'My Immortal.' This slow-burner of delicate piano notes and light touches of violin, gradually builds to a climax of deeper, resonating piano and urgent vocals. It doesn't quite carry that hard-hitting emotional punch, but it's a beautiful and understated song nonetheless.
This album's original track listing draws to a close with the stirring, cinematic soundscape of 'The Dream.' Crammed with dreamy melodies, shimmering synths and gorgeously layered vocal harmonies, 'The Dream' is a sublimely beautiful song. You just might question the decision to tack three bonus tracks onto the end of this disc, after 'The Dream' has brought the original material to such a moving conclusion.
However, all doubts are dispelled approximately ten seconds into In This Moment's riotous cover of Blondie's 'Call On Me.' That the sometimes-metalcore, sometimes-stadium-rock band don't completely murder this song is a small miracle in itself, but the fact that they make it sound like three minutes of pure fun, is nothing short of jaw-dropping. A fantastic, cheesy rock song.
The second bonus track comes in the form of the twinkling ballad 'A Dying Star.' With a massive, lighters-in-the-air chorus and shimmery verses of bright guitar-picking and lashings of breathy backing vocals, 'My Dying Star' is a gorgeous, stadium-bothering anthem, and album-closer 'Sailing Away' isn't far behind in the 'stadium anthem' stakes.
In terms of female-fronted rock, 'The Dream' successfully bridges the gap between Riot Grrl Marion Raven, and goth-rockers Evanescence. Their studio gloss, Avril Lavigne lyrics and pop-infused choruses often prevents them from sounding particularly passionate, and In This Moment clearly have stadium aspirations, which sees them play things safer than they perhaps should. But, several songs on this album are an instant shot of giddy rock, and several more offer up darker, nastier metalcore.
Whether you think the unashamed fun of 'You Always Believed,' 'Violet Skies' and 'Call Me;' or the metalcore of 'The Great Divide,' and the doomy 'Lost At Sea,' are the album highlights, depends on your genre preference. But, In This Moment are pretty good at both, and it's a shame they couldn't decide whether to go one way or the other, because too many of their songs are stuck between the two and, consequently, don't sound half as good.