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

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.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.