Music

In This Moment: The Dream

We all knew they were capable of catchy songs, but just not this catchy.


In This Moment

The Dream

Label: Century Media
US Release Date: 2008-09-30
UK Release Date: 2008-10-13
Amazon
iTunes

These days, whenever a young metal band decides to make the jump from aggressive, screamed vocals to more accessible, cleanly sung melodies, it’s usually done cautiously, a melodic chorus tacked on to the odd song. And more often than not, bands tend to safely rely on that alternating dynamic between screaming and singing. While veteran bands like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains have steadily improved in the vocal department, most younger acts sound too careful when trying to incorporate clean singing, their attempts at hooks sounding half-baked at best, bands displaying a hunger to broaden their sound, but coming off as unwilling to completely embrace the power of the vocal hook. While strong vocal melodies can still be found in metal music, it’s still often a far cry from the glory days of the 1980s, when the pop side of heavy metal was all about the hook. Sure, pop metal was trite, but it was often gloriously so, and when those of us who grew up with that music hear a bunch of metalcore kids attempt to execute a big-sounding chorus, it’s often too awkward to bear.

Incredibly, In This Moment gets it. The fact that the Los Angeles quintet is capable of strong hooks is not much of a surprise, as their 2007 debut Beautiful Tragedy, predictable as it was, walked the line between catharsis and introspection remarkably well at times, thanks to the charismatic vocal performance of Maria Brink. So it wasn’t out of the question to expect a slight improvement in the vocal department on the follow-up. However, there was no way anyone could have expected the metamorphosis we hear on The Dream, as In This Moment have so completely shed the “metalcore” tag and headed full-bore into that Big ‘80s aesthetic that anyone would be hard-pressed to call them “metal” at all. It’s a bold move, and one that’s going to annoy many on the metal side who’d rather distance themselves from the pop metal of 25 years ago. But for the rest of us who aren’t afraid of a finely-crafted, gigantic hook, The Dream is an absolute pleasure.

For a band looking to explore their more accessible side, producer Kevin Churko was the perfect fit. Having served as Mutt Lange’s engineer for several years, the Canadian Churko might not have the same bombastic touch as his mentor, but he certainly knows what makes a pop song great. His studio sheen, while coming off as ostentatious on Ozzy Osbourne’s painfully slick Black Rain, suits Brink and her bandmates to a tee. The Dream unleashes a string of single-worthy tunes, starting with “Forever”, which melds chiming, new wave-inspired guitar accents with more conventional riffing, Brink launching into the first of what will be many gigantic choruses, this one echoing 1987-era Lita Ford. “All For You” and “You Always Believed” are even more upbeat, faithfully adhering to the generic hard rock formula of 25 years ago (and to quote Loverboy, lovin’ every minute of it), while “Lost at Sea” takes on a more brooding tone, impressively reminiscent of the power balladry of Dokken.

“Her Kiss” is the most adventurous tune on the album, as the band goes for a more down-tuned, goth-inspired sound similar to that of Lacuna Coil. But those big choruses still manage to creep back in. In less capable hands, the song would have been an outright failure, but Churko is able to go from one extreme to the other with astonishing ease. “The Great Divide” is the one song that briefly reverts to the sound of the first album. Brink brings back that feral scream of hers, but this time around the clean chorus is far more confident than anything on Beautiful Tragedy, while the overall band performance is ferocious.

The album’s only slight mis-step is the piano ballad “Into the Light”, which perhaps plays up the pop a little too heavy-handedly. Then again, considering In This Moment’s current musical direction, such a song shouldn’t be unexpected. Whether you dig the syrupy ballads or not, you can’t deny that The Dream is one hell of an audacious album. It’s not merely a case of a band “selling out” and deliberately sounding trendy. If they wanted that, they’d sound like Paramore. Instead, they’ve done something far more uncool, making an album that appeals to parents of Paramore fans, one that will have them remembering just how flat-out fun hard rock and pop metal was two decades ago. And with hooks like these, the kids just might realize the same as well.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Music

Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum
Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Music

Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.

Music

Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.