Review Summary: There must have been something in the air when they were making this swill.
Once over, there was a time when In This Moment had real potential. I’ve enjoyed a good chunk of their discography over the years: A Star-Crossed Wasteland
and, their follow-up, Blood
were really, really solid records, ones where I began to see true potential in what they were doing. Both LPs showcased a sound that captured the essence of the band; combining heavy metal, visual theatrics and Maria’s impressive vocal performances, which ranged from a decent scream to an operatic vocal style. These guys were more than your average metalcore band and at that point in their career, were making strong and interesting songs. However, there’s been a steady dip in quality, starting with Black Widow
which suffered from being bloated and disappointingly watered down when compared to the albums previous. There were a couple of decent moments to be had on it, but, by and large, it was a big setback for the band. So, after an unfulfilling fifth album, further worry sank in for me during the promotion of this very album: “River of Fire” was a half-decent track I thought; pushing the band into an even bigger arena of grandiose song-writing and loaded with ample amounts of atmospherics previously experimented with, but the two singles that proceeded “River of Fire” were not a good selling point for Ritual
. “In the Air Tonight” was a truly dire rendition of Phil Collins classic piece, lacking the energy and melancholy its original pertained, while “Oh Lord” came across as a pretentious bore which carried over a lot of the negative traits Black Widow
suffered from. Now the full-length LP is out, and the results are much worse than I imagined.
It’s hard to really pinpoint where Ritual
goes wrong, because there’s so many factors involved, so many bad decisions made. When I said Black Widow
felt watered down, this album feels watered down from that. The worst part about it is it all feels like a terrible game plan to lure in a broader audience, and one I was constantly reminded of during its painful 12-track duration. The more accessible aspects of 2014’s offering is saturating this LP, but the ideas implemented are much more ham-fisted and diluted. There’s plenty of mood-making, ambient passages to set the tone here, the problem is they’re a complete waste of time. The opening track, “Salvation”, is a 2 ½ minute slog which amounts to absolutely nothing; an eerie number which quickly overstays its welcome before transitioning into “Oh Lord”, a folk-y track that walks the line of sounding like something Lady Gaga would have left as a B-side to her most recent project. But the most jarring aspect comes from the fact they’re two completely different tones being mushed together; it’s something you’ll hear quite often here. The most severe problems lie in the album’s short attention span, lacklustre riffs, and Maria’s rather banal performances. Her takes on here are best described as raspy groans – like a bad Chino impression – that meld perfectly with the crap compositions behind her. Rarely does anything good stand out or feel satisfying here. The awful track “Black Wedding” is a “cleaver”
take on Billy Idols “White Wedding” which opens with a laughably out of place piano, before shifting into a generic riff and then actually ripping off Billy Idols song entirely at its chorus. When the album isn’t being outright awful the rest of tracks here, ala “Joan of Arc”, are just being bland and forgettable. Maria’s dull drone quickly becomes grating, and when she isn’t groaning, her vapid melodies do little to hold anything worthwhile here. Hell, even the sound samples are annoying here, as they come in at the start of every song – probably to make the album feel like it has some sort of conceptual theme and more to it than it actually has.
So, is there anything good to come from this album? In all honesty, it’s tough to find anything redeemable here. At best Ritual
is generic and tired: instruments don’t conjure up anything notable and take a backseat the entire time the album plays, while Maria does little in stepping up to the plate to make sure there’s something engaging to listen to from her end. The record literally feels like a heavy pop album with none of the great vocal performances to back it up. Bar songs like “Black Wedding” and “In the Air Tonight” for being legitimately terrible pieces, the rest of the album is just extremely bland. At 12 tracks, this felt like it was double that, and is easily one of the hardest listens of 2017 thus far. I don’t know who this would appeal to, if you’re a fan of the band I can’t see what this would offer you except mundane and insipid performances on every level. Black Widow
sounded like an experiment gone sour, but you could still hear the band in it all, with some solid songs to take away from it. Ritual
continues the experiment, but the only thing you’ll remember from this album is not to go back to it again.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A