Maria Brink is not just another pretty face. For what it’s worth, the In This Moment singer was recently named as one of Revolver magazine’s “25 Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock.” Looks aside, Brink also possesses a powerful, commanding voice that can turn incandescently soft and alluring in the blink of an eye. Her mood can shift just as quickly when this beauty decides to turn into a beast.

Full of dark, carnal desire and tortured vivisections of stormy, confused gender relations, Blood, In This Moment’s potent but glossy and overproduced fourth album of edgy, pop-infused metal, is damaged goods. Tense, angry and desperate, the bombastic title track builds on a stiff, repeating riff, while an agitated Brink yells at a kind, respectful lover, “I hate you for always saving me from myself / I hate you for always choosing me and not someone else” and professes her adoration for a cad, setting feminism back thousands of years. It makes for riveting metal theater, as Brink rages on, and yet the tone, as warm as Formica composites, is so shrill and sharp – as it is throughout Blood – that it seems capable of slitting wrists wide open.

Though clearly a platform for promoting the burgeoning star power of Brink – only on the rarest of occasions does the instrumentation step out from behind the shadows – Blood sabotages her emotionally raw and unrepentantly lustful Oscar-worthy performance at almost every turn. Unremarkable riffs, a ridiculous piling on of arctic studio effects, unforgivable production butchery that mutilates the chorus of “Blood” – all of it robs the album of its soul.

As slinky and seductive as a pole dancer at first, the positively pornographic “Adrenalize” oozes sensuality – that is until a furious and punishing rhythmic humping of guitars, bass and drums mindlessly gang-bangs the whole thing into an unsatisfying oblivion. Too often, as with “Whore” and “Beast Within,” In This Moment simply recycles riffs into perpetuity and then slowly aggravates the tension until pulling the trigger on anticlimactic releases, and by the time “The Blood Legion” arrives, traversing all the glacial passages of icy electronica and frigid manipulations of Brink’s vocals – also encountered in the absolutely pointless interlude “Aries” – that populate the landscape of Blood becomes tiresome.

Not all of Blood needs a transfusion of originality and vitality. Even if the version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” seems slathered with pop lipstick, the cinematic flourish of “Burn” finds In This Moment breaking symphonic metal levees and letting a gorgeous flood of heavy guitars and strings wash over awestruck audiences, while the transcendent radiance of “From the Ashes” is beautifully blinding and the in-your-face aggression of “Comanche” wants to start a fight. A heavy metal priestess in every sense, Brink’s fashion sense is glitzy, stylish and anarchic, and she bears some cosmetic resemblance to Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, the music of Blood seems, at times, just as manufactured as Gaga’s.

Label: Red General Catalog (The audio CD can be purchased here)


Formerly the editor of Goldmine magazine, prior to the reign of one Patrick Prince, Peter Lindblad has been a music journalist for the last 10 years. His work has also appeared in Elmore magazine and, among other publications. He believes heavy metal has the power to cure the sick and make the blind see.