Let me start off this review by saying that I love Marilyn Manson, but hate nu-metal. Confused? Read on – you’ll figure it out soon enough.
Motionless In White is a band that has gone through several sound evolutions throughout their time as a band, starting with a very scene sound during their early EPs and releases, then pushing their metalcore aspects on Creatures, to a hardcore/Marilyn Manson combination on Infamous. Does their new album, Reincarnate, size up/surpass their old works?
I’ll start by saying that I loved Infamous – from the opening track, the band’s second album was not only darker, but it was extremely aggressive compared to their previous release. Infamous, in my opinion, was also a step in the right direction for the band’s image: they showed their fans that they were headed in a darker, heavier, industrialized/hardcore direction.
When I first heard the title track single Motionless In White released for their album Reincarnate, I was blown away – there was an increased electronic presence on the song, and the band seemed to have not only settled comfortably into their Infamous sound, but actually expanded on it by developing the song’s choruses into a multi-layered hook that had me listening on repeat. The production quality was also significantly better than previous works. When the second single was released, “Puppets 3 (The Grand Finale) feat. Dani Filth”, an aggressive powerhouse of black/thrash metal influenced metal, I knew I’d be heading into the band’s heaviest, most aggressive album yet. With high hopes, I pre-ordered the special edition of the album (Bible box and all) and awaited for September 16, 2014.
And yet, 14 seconds into “Death March”, the opening track of the new album, I felt as though I was listening to a nu-metal band. A once guitar-driven band seems to have changed – rhythms are focused on low-end only, whereas keyboards and vocals create a layering effect that adds melody to each song; while this works for certain sections, the aggressive, dark riffs seem to be missing from this album, and it’s upsetting to me; I was disappointed to find that the guitars on the album follow a trend of nu-metal styled riffage.
Certain songs avoid the pure-rhythmic style riffage, but they fall short in other ways – “Unstoppable” has a simple song construction that sounds like my high school band’s first effort at writing music, and the chorus seems like a knock off of the band’s song “Cobwebs” off of Creatures. “Break The Cycle” (which, by the way, has almost the exact same opening melody as “Dark Passenger” on the album), follows suite and almost seems like a regression for the band – the riffs that are melodic are typical metalcore riffs, and it’s the kind of material I would’ve expected to hear during the Creatures era. The final track, “Carry The Torch”, redeems the band’s guitar-driven style, but unfortunately, the verse riffs are reminiscent of a 2006 metalcore band – it’s something you’ve heard before, because it sounds exactly like it’s off of Creatures.
When the vocals kick in on “Death March”, their style immediately reminded me of Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque, and I thought there was more hope for the album – unfortunately, I feel that a lot of the album has it’s Manson moments that end up turning into nu-metal songs. “Generation Lost”, which is one of the album’s heaviest songs, is straight from the 90s with lyrics like “Throw your hands in the air and let’s start this shit” – the song quickly turns into a knock off of “Vodevil” by Manson, down to literal melodies being the same, but then returns to a nu-metal song. The song eventually explodes into a hard-rock styled bridge, which is redeeming and almost makes me forget that the song is nu-metal…until the lyrics, “Coast to coast, I hear the masses calling/Turn up now this is your final warning” are rapped. “Dark Passenger”, on the other hand, mimics the album’s title track and seems helpful from a musical/vocal standpoint, but is too generic of a metalcore song to stand out on the album in comparison to the band’s other material.
Despite all of my negativity towards this album, I find myself listening to it over and over again. Why? Because Motionless In White has also expanded their industrial side, and my god, it’s GREAT. The songs that excel on this album are the ones that either use guitar as a melody-driving device, or electronics to further each part. “Contempress feat. Maria Brink” is more ballad-like, but has a heavy edge, and the hook is damn catchy – not quite a “City Lights” or “Sinematic”, as it’s not dark enough to match either song, but it follows those songs’ style in its own way. “Wasp”, coming in at 7 minutes and 2 seconds, actually stood out to me as one of the best on the album – the layering is fantastic, the piano on the track is absolutely chilling, and at times it even reminds me of “Death of Music”, the 12 minute epic, by Devin Townsend.
The darkest, heaviest song on the album, is “Final Dictvm feat. Tim Skold” – and let me tell you, Skold’s influence is clear. Though the song starts off with an EDM style, which was initially a turn off to me, it builds into a chilling electronic industrial song, which would be perfect for anyone’s next Halloween Soundtrack; in fact, the sound of the song reminds me so much of SPF1000 that any underground goth fan is sure to love it, regardless of Motionless In White’s overall sound. The song is a black sheep on the album, but it shows what the band could eventually become; though I hope they don’t continue in this direction, as it would mean that their music would lose it’s hard aggressive edge, I wouldn’t mind hearing more songs like this on the next album they put out.
My favorite track, however, is “Everyone Sells Cocaine” – though the guitar is very nu-metal during verses/post-choruses, pre-choruses use dynamics well, and when the chorus hits, it’s huge: the sound balances out the 90s influence by bringing forth the band’s other influences.
I would be very, very surprised if fans of Motionless In White who have not expanded their listening tastes to the band’s influences like this album – it combines various styles from the past 30 or so years into 13 songs, but they aren’t always executed well. Fans of Infamous will find a few songs they enjoy listening to, whereas fans of Creatures may like the album better. Fans like me, however, who knew about Manson, Skold, and nu-metal far before they ever heard about Motionless In White, may have mixed feelings – if you’re looking for a hard hitting metal album, look elsewhere. However, if you want to hear heavy, enjoyable dark music, look no further; there’s plenty for you here.
I give Reincarnate a 4/5 – and I realize most fans probably won’t feel this way. Though it has a few songs that are generic or I probably won’t ever listen to again, there are enough songs that should/probably will become live set staples, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing how they translate from recording to the stage.