By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
When it comes to finding inspiration in the world, in order to create something beautiful, most music artists look in some the strangest places. For Scott Stapp and Creed, he found his inspiration through God and faith. For Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of The Doors, it was through the use of hallucinogenic drugs. John Lennon’s muse was one Yoko Ono, and she helped him create the classic “Imagine.” Kurt Cobain got the name for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” off of a girl’s deodorant stick. For Maria Brink of In This Moment, it was trip to Salem, Oreg., with her female family members that stimulated her mind. She was fascinated with the history of the town and the witch burnings that took place, many years ago. While not overly religious, her open spirituality helped her shape the next In This Moment album, Ritual. Known for making Goth metal/modern metal gorgeous, I was ready to commence with the ceremony.
Brink is, without a doubt, one of the top female vocalists in heavy metal today. She has a very potent and tantalizing voice that is very euphoric. One would say hypnotic even. With Ritual, they decided to tone down the electronic elements from their previous records, and favor a more guitar-driven sound. Right out of the cauldron, In This Moment invigorated my ears, with the instrumental opener, “Salvation.” Then, they dropped the hammer with the first single, “Oh Lord.” Heavily influenced by the blues, this tune has a raw, organic quality that disperses into the sound waves of unfathomable proportions. Not a bad way to grab the listener’s absolute attention.
For each new song like “Witching Hour,” “Half God Half Devil,” and “River of Fire,” they delve deep in to the dogma of religion. It’s like Alice dropping further down the rabbit hole to the unknown. Lead guitarist Chris Howorth performs in peak condition with his thrilling guitar licks. Along with rhythm guitarist Randy Weitzel, their deafening riffs reach to incredible feats of flawlessness.
It is the first album to feature new drummer Kent Diimmel, whose roaring kicks were stir crazy, and thunderously pleasing. Mix that with Travis Johnson’s booming bass playing, and what you have as a result, is an attractive rhythm section. This record features a sinister twist on Phil Collins iconic “In The Air Tonight.” As soon as Diimmel comes in on the classic drum solo, it creeps on you, and makes you jump out of your seat. Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, the Metal God himself, comes in to guest sing on “Black Wedding,” a warped song enthused by Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” and my favorite tune off the record. The album closes on the eerie side, with the offering of “Lay Your Gun Down,”
where Brink plays the piano melancholy like.
Though the music may sound depressing, the lyrics and message behind the songs is very enriching. Ritual is everything you would want a record with a theme driving it. Dialing down the sexual tone, Brink gives us a new meaning behind empowerment. This is the fifth effort with legendary producer Kevin Churko. Working with them since The Dream, it is like they can read each other’s minds and know what works for their records. It has been said that while writing it, they had an idea of what the live show will be like. I imagine it will be enchanting to watch, just as it was captivating to listen. To In This Moment, I salute you. Horns up!!! 8.9/10