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In This Moment

In This Moment’s Ritual review and playing the Orpheum on August 9th

In This Moment CD: Ritual
Record Label: Roadrunner Records
Artist's Facebook
by Tommy Rage
July 2018

You can burn a witch at the stake or you can watch her unleash a spectacular metal-core burlesque freak show. In This Moment, a captivating and dazzling cabaret-style electro-carnival comes to the Orpheum Theatre on August 9th. With their 2017 release Ritual debuting at #23 on the Billboard 200, the five talented musicians: Maria Brink (vocals), Randy Weitzel (rhythm guitar), Kent Diimmel (drums), Travis Johnson (bass) and Chris Howorth (lead guitar) display both a flair for the dramatic as well as an expanding style of metal. Taking a step away from their earlier gothic-metal sound on previous albums, (Beautiful Tragedy and The Dream), Ritual combines electronic undertones with an impalement of modern metal. Speaking with founding member and lead guitarist Chris Howorth, we talk about the up-coming Madison show at the Orpheum Theatre on August 9th, about In This Moment’s release Ritual and working with the Metal God Rob Halford. 

Focusing on a theme, the candle-light séance feel of Ritual, was inspired by Maria Brink’s interest in the Salem witch trials. “Salvation”, a church bell ceremonial call to all spellbinders, kicks off the 2017 release with a diverse and adventurous tone. Asked how this album came together, lead guitarist Chris Howorth shares, “For us it’s just a culmination of the last 3 albums we put out. We had a break-through record with Blood, and our sound kind of switched in a different direction. We signed with Atlantic Records after Blood and our sound is a little more dialed in. We’re feeling good about who we are and where we are; and I guess it kind of shows on Ritual.”

The emotions of sorceress Maria Brink hold strong throughout all 12 tracks. Producer Kevin Churko helps bring Brink’s potent and sultry vocals to the forefront. Howorth gives credit to their longtime friend and close confident Churko, “This is Kevin’s fifth album with us. We are all on this journey together. With In This Moment, we believe that you must feel connected to it. Especially Maria. Lyrically and musically she has to feel it, or else it’s just fake. It has to be real to her, and it’s a journey, especially with our fans. We always have that heavy edge, at the same time, we just try to make good art that we believe in; and not worry about what anyone else thinks.” 

The band welcomed new drummer Kent Diimmel into the line-up in 2016. Travis Johnson (bass) and Randy Weitzel (rhythm guitar) continue to elevate the band’s sound with songs “Joan of Arc”, “River of Fire”, and “Witching Hour”. Founding members Brink and Howorth have expanded the band’s sound together with their fellow group members, “The thing about our band is that it was just Maria and I to write Blood and Black Widow,” noted Howorth. “When Randy and Travis joined, we were six years into In This Moment. They have both been an integral part of all of it, from the album to the art work. They both brought in some great ideas to some tracks. One of the songs we co-wrote with Randy was “Twin Flames”; so, it’s one of those things as writers, that sometimes you can be protective of that; and you don’t always want someone else to come in because you don’t know if it’s going to be good. But with Randy and Travis it’s just been a natural process. Before Kent joined, we were getting hit-up from some well-known drummers. We made the choice to get someone who was new and hungry and give them a chance. Kent has this great attitude. He is super stoked, and he brings in this new energy for us. It’s cool to open that door for someone and let them in.”
 
The band’s first top ten hit “Oh Lord” (#6 Top Mainstream Rock Charts) shines with Brink’s texture and Howorth’s gory guitar grind. That top ten hit has motivated the band and has been a reward for the band’s hard work, shares Howorth, “Having a top ten hit feels really good. We spend so much time grinding and working. We love that we have this grass-root fan base, and when you get that top ten song, it’s just icing on the cake. It adds so much more to it. I love that this song is doing great, we want a number one song too! [laughter].”

Having a Salem witch trial type feel to it, a veteran rock legend lends to Ritual’s spiritual feel. “Black Wedding”, a mesmerizing heavy metal duet with Rob Halford was truly a momentous occasion for Howorth. “There’s a great story here [laughter]. We got hit up by Rob’s people about him wanting to come see us [at a show] and meet us. We were playing in San Diego at The House of Blues. We were talking about it all day, we were excited when he came just to see us. Our whole crew got to meet him when he came, and he was the sweetest man ever. He expressed opportunities about our band, so Maria started talking with him. When we were doing this song, “Black Wedding”, she was singing about ‘priest can you hear me’ and we thought about doing this as a duet with him. She asked him, and he said yes. We ended up doing the song and video. He was truly open to all her ideas and he is really a cool person, he’s super cool. I can’t believe how nice he is. He’s the Metal God, he can do anything he wants.  When he did the video with us - doing a video can be grueling, but he just hung out with us and did the whole video without any complaints. He didn’t have to do any of that. It just blows my mind on how nice he is. He is so cool!”

Breaking free from the industrial-sound stockade, Brink and Howorth brew an intoxicating potion of classic rock and metal with their rendition of a Phil Collins hit. “’In The Air’ is actually a song we talked about covering multiple times over the course of our career. It’s one of the greatest songs of all time, you can’t top this song. We didn’t try to make it better, we just tried our own version of it, and pay homage to how great it is and put our spin on it.”

One would assume that with the success of Ritual that the band would take some time away from touring to enjoy a cloistered life in a convent. When asked if he could share what’s next for In This Moment, Howorth couldn’t contain himself, “I’m letting the cat out of the bag! Our fall tour is going to be ending soon. We are working on music for the next album now. We have a tentative date set to head into the studio in February or March to put it together with Kevin Churko again. We are planning on getting that album out in time for a summer tour next year. It takes time. We are planning on working on songs for the next five months while we are out on tour. In the past, we went into the studio with no ideas. With Black Widow, we went in with nothing, and we wrote the album while in the studio; which is its own animal. But this time we wanted to be a little more prepared. This time our plan is [since] we have been working on songs as we have been touring, we have a bunch of songs, and we know what we like and what we are bringing in.”

This enthusiasm and excitement for the band’s most successful release to date, isn’t just about putting out great music. Ritual sounds as if it were written specifically for a live performance. Having received accolades for their extravagant stage shows, Howorth reflects on when the band recorded their first live DVD here in Madison in 2013, “Blood At The Orpheum”. “I’ll never forget it! That was the original. At that time, it as the very beginning of our theatrical side. On that tour, Maria got rid of the hand-held mic and we went with the wireless things, which allowed us to move around more. Those were the first BLOOD Girls that we ever had, none of those girls were professional dancers. They were all just in a hotel trying to come up a routine to do for the DVD. It’s so crazy because now we’re focused on trying to perfect all these things about our show.  I’m super excited to come back to Madison always. When we see Madison on the tour schedule we love it! It’s a great town for hard music and for In This Moment.”

Purchase Ritual on Amazon.com
Download Ritual on Amazon.com

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