As far as hipsters go, I generally detest people who shame people for “just” discovering a popular thing. My rule of thumb is, welcome them to the party, even if you’re cleaning up the half-empty bottles and stray cups. When it comes to In This Moment, though, something comes over me. My first experience with them comes before their A Star-Crossed Wasteland album, though it was Blood that set them on course for pop-metal prosperity and popularity. With the power and panache of singer Maria Brink at the forefront, electronic elements interwoven with metal sensibility, and a mystical grounding, In This Moment have become one of the most integral acts in modern metal.
With their seventh disc Mother, the band has fully embraced the pagan imagery and philosophy that their previous effort Ritual dipped its toe into, as Maria assumes the role of High Priestess to great success. Sonically, it is a mature record, and perhaps the strongest since their Blood days. Those who prefer old ITM need not apply, as the band has fully embraced what lies in their Blood, and parlayed it into a strong album. If pre-Blood In This Moment was their maiden phase, Mother is their realization of that stage of life down to the letter.
The first of two interludes, “The Beginning,” has a droning horn that almost seems to mimic the intro of one of In This Moment’s previous hits, “Big Bad Wolf.” This leads into one of two covers on the album, this one of Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle.” Right away, there is a greater presence of electronics than the band’s last effort Ritual, as programmed percussion drives things along from the first chorus on. This iteration is more of an epic, almost cinematic production, taking the light-hearted, drug-induced jam higher than before.
“The Red Crusade,” a concept hinted at in the band’s LGBTQ+ anthem “Natural Born Sinner, precedes the lead single “The In-Between.” Focusing on the duality of man (or woman, as it were), this track is anthemic, powerful, and possibly their strongest this side of Blood. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are a one-woman beauty and the beast, with Maria Brink’s screams layered with multiple sung vocal tracks, further displaying the duality of the song.
“Legacy” has an ephemeral, airy feeling, even when the band kicks in after the first chorus. Bolstered by electronics and an understated guitar solo, it is another great offering. Maria Brink calls on two heavy queens in Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale and The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen for a rendition of “We Will Rock You” which stays somewhat true to the original. A quintessential anthem of empowerment like this only benefits from three of the foremost frontwomen in hard rock today.
Following the titanic triumvirate of Brink, Hale, and Momsen comes the title track, brought in by piano and a choir of voices behind Brink’s evocative vocals. “Mother” is a slow burn, a building, climbing track, with the second verse adding chugging guitars and a drum roll in the back of the mix. It ends as a power ballad, a tribute to those who came before. In the vein of coming before us, “As Above So Below” has a sound not unlike songs like “Adrenalize” from the Blood record, as it is a radio-ready rocker running all over Brink’s vocal range.
“Born in Flames” starts off as a mid-tempo, almost mellow track, with Brink’s vocals dictating the melody, rather than guitars or keyboards. When the guitars do kick in come the bridge, it is for a brief dual harmony, then as backing for a more powerful vocal delivery to bring the track to a close. The overt heaviness comes roaring back for “God is She,” reminding some of “Burn,” again from the Blood days of the band. The bluesy, low riffing on “Holy Man” makes for a great one-two punch of detuned destruction.
Joe Cotela of Ded joins Maria for “Hunting Grounds,” a rock-forward track that feels less theatrical than some other songs on the record, while amping up the edge and the duality, with Cotela’s and Brink’s vocals playing so well with one another. The guitars get a chance to shine, with an alternate-picked lead and melody in the post-chorus interlude and second verse. I personally found myself with the chorus riff stuck in my head for some time after my first listen.
“Lay Me Down” feels ever so Southern in its execution and melody, with a wah-powered transitional riff into a driving melody full of big riffing and even bigger vocal performances. Closing out the disc is “Into Dust,” a haunting piano ballad with the breathy, uneasy vocals of Brink punctuating this ominous number. Even as she restrains herself, not leaving her vocal mid-range, Brink puts in a strong effort here.
Mother is an uplifting celebration of power, be it within oneself or what drives us through our day to day. Even as the world is in complete unrest and tension, this album comes forth as a shimmer of hope and inspiration. Maria turns in one of her collective best vocal performances on record here, and the backing band doesn’t miss a step. Everything comes together to make Mother a must-hear.