Thursday, July 29, 2010
In their early career, In This Moment had reached a pivotal crossroads when writing began for their third CD. Their first CD, “Beautiful Tragedy”, was heavy and introduced the world to the screamo vocals of one Maria Brink. Their sophomore release, “The Dream”, was a more polished and melodic sounding CD on which Maria focused more on singing than her trademark screams. This sound seemed to alienate their early fan base while, at the same time, it exposed them to a whole new audience. How could they bring the best of both of those elements together to please such a diverse audience?
The hype behind their third CD, entitled “A Star-Crossed Wasteland”, began to build with Maria and lead guitarist Chris Howorth stating in interviews that they had finally found their defining sound. The first song and video released, “The Gun Show”, was an indication of what was in store. The intro sounds like you have just walked up on a good old fashioned gunfight, but instead of Billy The Kid you are confronted by Maria the Hottest Chick in Metal ripping your head off with her signature screaming. The song is heavy and intense with drummer Jeff Fabb displaying a style that we really haven’t heard on any of their prior releases. When listening to this song, you can’t help but want to start pumping your fist in the air.
“Just Drive” meshes both sounds into one from their earlier stuff. Don’t let the acoustic guitar intro fool you because this is no ballad. Maria combines both her screaming vocals with her more melodic and smoother vocal style on this one. The lyrics are definitely universal on this song, as we have all just wanted at one time or another to just get in the car and drive to get away. Chris also shines on this one with a blistering solo. A very nice surprise to hear him let loose and take some chances musically.
“The Promise” may be the best track on the CD. It’s a duet with Maria and Adrian Patrick of the band Otherwise. It is a great song full of powerful lyrics and emotion as the two go back and forth trading off vocals. The two definitely compliment each other in very similar styles. When they sing to each other “My promise is I will hurt you” it is believable and real.
The title track starts off with a beautiful piano solo and Maria’s vocals. The song builds intensity towards the chorus and turns more into a power ballad. “Blazin” is another full throttle ahead song with its chorus sounding very similar to “Violet Skies” from “The Dream”. Again, Chris shows off his skills for us with another blistering solo. “The Road”. One of my favorite songs lyrically on the CD about being on the road but never losing focus on what is waiting for us when the road finally leads back to home. One thing that shines on this song is the use of Chris doing background vocals. It really gives the song depth with his vocals behind Maria’s.
The next track entitled “Iron Army” seems to have taken on a life of its own with the fans. An in your face power metal song that has Maria singing the lyrics until the chorus and then she unleashes a fury upon the listener unlike no other. I recommend not listening to this with your headphones on as the fury of her vocals will leave your ears bleeding if not just totally rip your face off. This is an intense song and should be one included in their live show at some point.
The “Last Cowboy” starts with Maria, in spoken voice, telling us a story of a cowboy looking for that elusive kiss to bring his cold, dark heart back to life. The chorus again is a great example of layering Chris backing vocals behind Maria and creating a great addition to the song.
“World In Flames” closes the CD with an emotional bang. Maria, as well as the rest of the band, has proven to us on each of their releases that they are no one trick pony. This is a power balled for this generation of younger fans that missed out on the great power ballads of the eighties. An emotionally charged song of death on the verge of taking us away, but not even that can keep the love of two people apart. Maria’s vocals are top notch as you can shut your eyes listen to her and feel as if you are in that room with the flames on the other side of the door. The song starts to build at the 3:27 mark to a powerful climax with Chris laying down a solo worth of the Hall of Fame for power ballad solos. The way the song builds towards the end is very much along the lines of one of my all time favorites by Aerosmith “It’s Amazing”.
Have the band found their sound? I think time will tell, but the initial reaction has been very favorable across the board. The lyrical content of “Beautiful Tragedy” is very deep and may have a slight edge on this release lyrically. Overall, I think this is a stronger release from the band as a whole. Everyone seems to have stepped up his or her game on this one. I hear more of the eighties influences on the guitars this time. The layers created by the musicianship of Blake Bunzel on guitar allow Chris to go back and lay down those blistering solos. Blake’s performance is very solid throughout the entire process is shows alot of growth by him on this release. Jeff Fabb is a beast on every track and gets my award for MVP. He really has stepped his game up and shown us a side that we have never heard from him. I know Maria gets alot of attention from the press and it is deserving, but Jeff really doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.
“A Star-Crossed Wasteland” is nothing short of their greatest work of art to date. Check the band out on the road and see why everyone is buzzing about this group. If you are tired of radio’s same old flavor of the week, then you should take that ten bucks that you were going to spend on that lame emo band and hear what true musicianship sounds like.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Have you ever discovered something that you wanted to keep a secret, yet couldn't wait to share it with someone? Like when you tried ranch dressing on your french fries or tried dipping your fries in a chocolate Wendy's frosty? Well I was fortunate enough to hear an artist live last summer in my small town that totally blew me away. Her name was Amanda Abizaid and her show in the humid Virginia summer air gave this music fan chills.
The American Lebanese singer, songwriter just released a new CD entitled "This Life" and I could not wait to hear what this prolific storyteller had to say. Most people are familiar with her song "A Place In Time" from Paramount's "The 4400" and "Dreams And Ashes" from Lifetime's Odd Girl Odd, Smallville and Charmed. Don't let this artist fool you, she is no one trick pony. Her versatility is one that will shock and amaze you on many levels.
The lead off track is entitled "Blue Star Red Sky" and it sounds unlike anything that I have ever heard before. It is one of my fave tracks on the CD. I could hear such pioneers in music as Prince or Beck doing something this original. Amanda has a very sexy, soft spoken vocal delivery on this song that fits it perfectly.
Two tracks use an instrument called the bouzouki in such a way that almost makes it sound as contemporary as the drums or keyboards. The instrument is of Greek decent and is similar to a mandolin. It produces a sharp, metallic sound when played. "Wash Me" uses the bouzouki with results that make this song popish and even radio worthy. The song also has an insane drum loop that is very infectious. The other song that utilizes the instrument is "My Friend" which is a slower song with deeply rooted lyrics speaking of friends reaching out to each another.
"How Can I Explain" takes a turn in the blues direction with more lyrics from the heart. I am not sure if Amanda is writing from her own experiences or from friends close to her, but the lyrics on this song and others on this CD and very personal and heartfelt. The title track is a very emotional piece about being out on the road when trying to keep a relationship together. The vocal delivery on this one shows a soft side to Amanda's vocal styling that really makes the listener feel the impact of her words.
Overall, I think this is an excellent CD. The only complaint that I would have is that it clocks in at just under thirty minutes. It left me wanting to hear more! There are definitely no "filler" cuts on this CD. Amanda wrote and produced all the tracks on the CD and she also plays the flute, piano and acoustic guitar on it. Now, how's that for versatility.
To find out more about Amanda, you can visit her at www.myspace.com/amandaabizaid4400 or at www.amandaabizaid.com. Her CD can be purchased at www.cdbaby.com. If you are lucky enough to see her live, do not pass up the chance. Her personality is very infectious and you will fall in love with her and her music within minutes. This CD just goes to show that the talent inside this lady is abundant and worthy of recognition.