In This Moment, ‘Ritual’ – Album Review
In This Moment's sound has evolved in the decade or so they have been around. Their style became more industrial beginning with 2012's Blood. That started a quick upward trajectory of success, as the album was certified gold and spawned three hit singles. That success continued with Black Widow, which saw them jump to a major label and have three more radio hits.
That brings us to their latest album, Ritual, their sixth studio effort. In This Moment have worked with producer Kevin Churko since their second album, and it has been a fruitful partnership. Ritual has a slightly different vibe than Black Widow. Musically it's not quite as electronic-influenced, though there are still plenty of industrial parts, and lyrically it's less provocative.
“It's like we're going into the next realm," says vocalist Maria Brink. "I had a conviction of feeling empowered in my life and with myself. I always write from a personal place, and I needed to share that sense of strength. I've never been afraid to hold back. Sometimes, I can be very suggestive. However, I wanted to show our fans that this is the most powerful side of myself and it's without overt sexuality. It's that deeper serious fire inside of my heart."
In This Moment's visual presentation has become a large part of their appeal, with a big stage production and numerous costume changes from Brink. But without quality songs to match the stunning visuals, fans would quickly lose interest. Ritual adds several more compelling tracks to their catalog.
After a tension building instrumental intro, the first proper song and opening single is “Oh Lord,” which has already cracked the top 10 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It's a slow burner that once it kicks in has a catchy chorus. “Black Wedding” features a guest appearance from the Rob Halford, the Metal God himself, appropriate for an album that covers a lot of spiritual topics. It's not a cover song, but adapts the chorus of Billy Idol's “White Wedding” and turns it into “Black Wedding.”
“In the Air Tonight” is, however, a cover song. The arrangement is faithful to the Phil Collins original, with Brink bringing much more emotion and variety to the vocals. The trademark drum fill toward the end of the song sounds sterile and mechanical, though, lessening the thunderous impact of the original. That song seems destined to be a single, with tracks like “River of Fire” and “Half God Half Devil” also with a lot of commercial potential.
Brink has an outstanding voice with a lot of power and texture, and when unleashed is a potent force. The vocal effects on some of the tracks could be dialed back to allow that force to break free more often instead of being diluted. Those effects can be helpful in creating a certain vibe and atmosphere, but can also reach a point of diminishing returns.
It has been interesting to watch the development and evolution of In This Moment's music and live show since first seeing them supporting their 2007 debut Beautiful Tragedy. Ritual is their most mature album, especially lyrically, but still musically adventurous. They continue down the path they have established over the past couple of albums, with a few more twists and turns.
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