In This Moment: Ritual

In This Moment
Roadrunner Records/Atlantic Records
July 21st, 2017
9/10 rating

Ritual’s opening track, Salvation, is dark and foreboding. Close your eyes and you can see the lightning flash as the thunder cracks. It perfectly leading into Oh Lord. The album’s first single gave us a hint of what to expect from the full album, but none of us were fully prepared for the depths that Ritual would take us. If there’s a stripped down element on Ritual, it’s prevalent in Oh Lord. Straight forward rock and metal.
Brink’s vocal duet with Judas Priest’s Rob Halford on Black Wedding, a sequel of sorts to Billy Idol’s White Wedding, is a stunning walk down the aisle of musical madness. Their voices blend together perfectly with the hammering drum beats and childlike piano chords. It truly is a nice night for a black wedding. I’ve always enjoyed Brink’s duets with other artists but Black Wedding gives us something different. I always felt there was a super serious tone to her previous duets, but she sounds like she’s having authentic fun with Halford in the studio. Listen to closely and you can hear them both smiling.
The band’s dramatic re-imagination of Phil Collins’ classic In the Air Tonight is truly haunting. Having heard the track performed live on the band’s most recent tour, I thought I had an idea of how powerful the studio version would be. I was wrong. Howorth and Brink took a song nearly 3 decades old and breathed new life into it.
There’s always one track on an album that I’m immediately drawn to. Joan of Arc is that track from me. There’s a sweet sound of venom behind Brink’s voice as she sings “You can crucify, you can nail me to your cross. You can find me guilty for everything you lost” during the track’s catchy choruses. Joan of Arc churns with a heavy authentic rock sound while Brink’s vocals drip with a honey sweet venom.
I’ve gotten the chance to hear River of Fire twice during the band’s recent tours. Both times were equally impressive, but the studio version is a bit more brutal that than what’s being played live. The crunching guitars during the track’s verses pound mercilessly with the thunderous bass drum hits. River of Fire definitely has a battle cry vibe to it, and In This Moment have used that to their advantage during their live sets.
Witching Hour could potentially be a continuation to Rob Zombie’s Dragula. Both tracks start off with Christopher Lee’s “superstition, fear and jealousy” audio clip from the film Horror Hotel. Debuted live on the 2nd leg of the Half God/Half Devil tour, the track is thunderous. The tone of Brink’s voice is almost judgmental throughout the track. “Convicted for my faith, this is the witching hour” Brink purrs throughout the song. The track is laced with pounding basslines, truly enhancing the overall sense of urgency hinted at in Brink’s voice. Delving deeper into the song, I get the sense that Brink’s lyrical inspiration is somewhat of a warning for potential lovers.
Twin Flames begins with soft piano chords, subtle bass, and Brink’s signature whisper before smashing into a full on heavy metal assault during the track’s choruses.
Half God Half Devil hammers heavy from the first booming guitar chord. “You look at me like I’m a revelation. You want to know if I can bring salvation.” Howorth’s fiery guitar strikes are massive. Drum strikes and piano chords create a gargantuan sound. Brink’s voice encompasses all that is power and strength. The track embodies what female empowerment is. “I’ll push you to the darkness just to pull you to the light because I take away your breath or I can bring you back to life,” Brink emphatically reminds us during the choruses. Half God Half Devil continues the album’s purpose to entice bedlam from the listener. Hopefully this track is added to their live set on upcoming tours.
Relenting on giving us a chance to catch our breath, No Me Importa continues to push the limits of what we expect Howorth and Brink can musically achieve, and once again surpass every expectation of what aural art is. The eloquence of Brink’s voice soars like a comet cutting through a clear blue sky. No Me Importa’s message is clear; We have finally realized that we deserve better than what you’ve given us. “I don’t care. Baby, I don’t care… I figured you out like a rat in a cage.”
Roots, Ritual’s 2nd single, continues a story of strength and purpose that courses through the album’s veins. Unrelenting it is aural mercy, Roots pummels and hammers away. Brink and Howorth’s message is clear, we’ve surpassed the trials set before us and overcome the deception by those who feigned love. We’ve bested the darkness and emerged stronger because of it.
Even with the strength Ritual has imbued within us, we know this moment was but a small triumph in the face of continued overwhelming darkness. Ritual’s closing track, Lay Your Gun Down, is the flickering flame of hope that reminds us we are alive. Salvaged from destruction and shielded from the winds of despair, Lay Your Gun Down is a haunting cacophony of sharp piano strikes, Brink’s ethereal vocals, and Howorth’s edgy guitar plucks.
I was hesitant when the band said their 6th studio album would be more stripped down that their previous releases. I like my In This Moment tracks to have an electronic element laired with their heavy metal sound.
“When fans hear this, I want them to feel the music, whether they take away sadness, anger, or happiness,” adds lead guitarist Chris Howorth. “As a kid, I remember listening to records and putting them on repeat over and over again. I’d love for the world to listen and absorb this as a piece of work.”
After my initial listen through, I’m not hearing how the album is “stripped down”. The electronic element is still present, albeit minimal, but more in the background throughout the album’s 12 tracks. Vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth push the limits of what I would consider classic instruments though. The guitar solos are monstrous. The drum and bass are thunderous. It’s truly amazing what can be done in a recording studio.
“It’s like we’re going into the next realm,” says 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.”
Produced by longtime collaborator – and multiple GRAMMY® Award nominee – Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne), Ritual sees In This Moment pushing their inimitably dark sound forward with a provocative sense of pervading doom and metallic blues power. Ritual’s sound is massive, and some of the heaviest music the band has ever released.