Release date: July 13, 2010
In This Momentreturns this month with their third album,A Star-Crossed Wasteland. The album opens like a lion, fades out like a lamb, and arguably bridges the gap between their debut album, Beautiful Tragedy and the follow up, The Dream.
Where their debut was raw and brutal, like the proverbial diamond in the rough, The Dream was elegant and polished in contrast, though no less edgy. A Star-Crossed Wasteland is at once bruising and tender. Like a broken jaw followed by a gentle kiss.
Kevin Churko who just handled production duties on Ozzy Osbourne’s Scream returns for his second album with In This Moment. After helmingThe Dream, Churko continues to help the band evolve in the studio, and the result is In This Moment’s most complete record to date.
Vocalist Maria Brink and the guys waste no time breaking out the heavy artillery on the album opener “Gunshow.” A heavy beast of a number crowned by Brink’s feral howling and Chris Howarth’s spiraling guitar pyrotechnics.
“Just Drive” teases with an acoustic intro before the band hits it, hammer down, with crunchy guitars and Jeff Fabb’s thundering drums accenting Brinks yell-scream verses. The chorus blends Brink’s screams against clean ethereal harmonies.
Brink teams up for a melodic yet burning duet on “The Promise” with Otherwise vocalist Adrian Patrick. A part originally slated for Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody.
“Stand Alone” breaks out in grand headbanging fashion, with a freight train blend of Fabb’s furious double bass work and new bassist Kyle Konkiel’s lockstep groove. This is another stand out track which plays the ferocity of Brinks howls against the breathy allure of her clean vocals.
A touching yet eerie piano interlude opens the album’s title track, before the band breaks into a grinding moody piece that fits my vision of ”A Star -Crossed Wasteland.” Like much of the album, the song is a contrast between dark and light, hope and despair.
One of the album’s heaviest numbers is “Blazin’.” Like “Gunshow” and “Just Drive,” “Blazin’” comes out firing on all cylinders, with ominous and atmospheric undertones, this track simply rages. Guitarists Howarth and Blake Bunzel really bring this one home, and the cheer-like bridge is going to be monster live.
The album closer, “World In Flames” is the proverbial lamb, a soft and emotional ballad that is the beauty within the beast. Brink’s voice is filled with breathless ache, unguarded and soulful. While I’m never a fan of closing out a metal album with a ballad, this is perhaps the ideal kiss goodnight.
The entire band truly stretches out on this album. You can hear that they have pushed themselves without compromising their sound. The musicianship is still tight and powerful. Maria Brink does more with her voice here than anything we’ve heard previously, from the screams and clean vocals, to near rap-speak moments, and even an almost narrative vocal line on “The Last Cowboy.”
A Star-Crossed Wasteland fulfills the promise In This Moment showed on their first two albums. A masterful blend of metal and melody. The album packs enough punch to break a rib, but still has vulnerable moments that are all the more memorable against the brutish and crushing backdrop of A Star-Crossed Wasteland.