Sound — 8
I first encountered In This Moment by accident, finding a link to them on YouTube whilst perusing the website for more songs involving Gus G. When I first found their songs, I expected them to be another pop-metal band, bringing out the stylings of bands like Amaranthe, but without the same success (I am a huge Amaranthe fan). I could not have been more wrong. Sounding like an Arch Enemy/One Without hybrid, the music comes flying out of the speakers at you from the outset of the album. There are smatterings of more mainstream metal in there, and mainstream music as a whole, but they only add to the diversity of the band. The guitars are quite typical of the genre as a whole - chugging verses, energetic riffs and melodic solos, and are dealt with expertly by Chris Howorth and Blake Bunzel. Drums are also typical, using double-bass to great effect at times, but Jeff Fabb manages to adapt his style to the different musical stylings of the various songs. A very great band-sound altogether, if not a little over-typical of the genre, but Maria Brink is the separating factor between this band and most others.
Lyrics — 9
Maria Brink. I had never heard of her before purchasing this album, and I feel my life is better now because of it. Aside from her smoking-hot looks, her voice is just perfect for this melodic-metalcore hybrid. Her screams, although overpowering the rest of the band at times, manage to convey the right emotions at the right time, and her clean vocals are far superior to many vocalists in the genre. Listen to "The Gun Show" followed by "World In Flames" to see where I am coming from. A stunning performance throughout the whole album, from start to finish. The lyrics are also fantastic. Although not a concept album per se, many of the lyrics point towards a combination of a Wild West setting and an apocalypse. Songs like "The Last Cowboy" and "Blazin" fit this idea perfectly, with the former's spoken-word lyrics being one of my lyrical highlights of the album. Aside from these lyrical themes, the ideas of love come through prominently, most notably on beautiful album-closer "World In Flames", and are delivered to perfection - both emotionally and melodically - by Brink.
Overall Impression — 9
01. "The Gun Show" - This is how I feel all Metalcore albums should start. A powerful chorus split by strong verses and a use of great tempo changes and chugging guitars. This is the song that In This Moment should be using to open gigs for a very long time. 02. "Just Drive" - An acoustic intro hints to a very different song to the preceding track. However, one yell of "Just Drive" leads to an intro and a verse that seem like a very similar, albeit sped up verse to "The Gun Show". The chorus is the first time on the album we hear Maria's clean vocal side, and it is very impressive - yet it is overpowered a bit by harmonies and screams. A very impressive guitar solo could also have been extended a little. 03. "The Promise" - One of the more accessible songs on the album, this song seems made to be a single. The vocal stylings of Maria and guest vocalist Adrian Patrick work very well together - with Maria's screams showing a lot more emotion than just the anger screams are accustomed to. Sounds mainstream, but at this point in the album it fits very well. 04. "Standing Alone" - The intro this song catches the attention immediately. Incredibly fast drums, nice keyboard work and a simple, yet catchy guitar riff (albeit only for a few seconds). In general, the instrumentation is more obvious in this song than the previous three, with Maria's vocals being addition to the song rather than the focal point - not necessarily a bad thing after three vocal-heavy tracks. 05. "A Star Crossed Wasteland" - The titular track of the album is the first "calmer" track on the album. The guitar-work in the verses remind me of Bullet For My Valentine when they do their ballads, and although to some it is a negative, it is quite welcome on this album as it complements Maria's melodic vocals very well. On the subject of guitars, the tone in the solo is very nice - but the solo itself just seems to be another factor in this song having all the right parts, but together it just doesn't seem to go anywhere. 06. "Blazin'" - The slow-building intro to this song is wonderful into a fantastic, energetic guitar riff. This song seems a return to the style of "The Gun Show", but at a much faster pace. This is one of the songs guitarists will feel compelled to learn over the others on the album, and I can't blame them. Fantastic work by all members of the band on this. 07. "The Road" - This is the first song I heard from this album, as browsing YouTube for Gus G made me find In This Moment in the first place. Unlike many guest musicians, Gus G doesn't forcefully make himself the focal point of this song - his solo is very tasteful and doesn't overawe the rest of the song, which is very well put together. This is a fantastic song all round, with a very catchy chorus, and beautiful vocal work again by Maria. The riff/solo after the final chorus is just the icing on the cake. 08. "Iron Army" - The intro of this song is one that will be able to bring mosh pits to In This Moment gigs for a while to come. The chorus is one that my head cannot help but nod along to, but the song as a whole is a complete anomaly in my mind. Every song on this album up to this point I've been able to pinpoint why I like them, but this one I really like but am a little unsure as to why. The final product of this song is greater than the sum of it's parts. 09. "The Last Cowboy" - One final hurrah for Metalcore on this album. A very different style of song, this is one of the better on the album. The spoken-word vocals work very well with the entire concept of the album, and the tempo of speech works very well with the backing instrumentation. The chorus is beautiful, as is quite common on the album as a whole, and the whole song comes together very well. This is a lesson on how to combine spoken word and metal, one that Lou Reed & Metallica needed. 10. "World In Flames" - Words cannot describe how incredible this song is to me. Beautiful, heartfelt lyrics, gorgeous vocals encapsulating the emotion of the song perfectly, and a slow build to a climactic, tasteful guitar solo. A complete shift in style on the album (sounding rather poppy at times), but one that works incredibly well and arguably closes the album at it's highest peak. Overall, I absolutely adore this album. It is my first experience of In This Moment, and has turned me into one of their biggest fans - their mix of styles is exactly what I look for in a band. To many people, the screaming vocals can be a bit of a turn-off, but that is all personal opinion. If this album were stolen, I would buy it again immediately, before even worrying about who may have stolen it. If you are a fan of Metalcore, and very heavy songs, the best songs for you would be "The Gun Show", "Just Drive" and "Blazin'". If you prefer a melodic flavour to your metal, the best songs for you are "The Promise", "The Road" and "World In Flames".