At work, I tend to throw my music on shuffle and let play whatever comes up. Yesterday, I was buzzing along with all my lovely table formatting, In This Moment came on, and it struck me pretty hard. So I thought I’d take it off of shuffle and listen to their library.
You know how sometimes you have that rare, un-listened to gem in your music collection that makes you wonder how this particular band has escaped your attention for so long? Yah. That’s where I am right now with ITM.
So to start off with, the genre: Some want to classify them as metal. I can see that, but really … there’s more there than just thrash this and speed that. Chord progression, depth of layering, technical skill … I’d have to throw them solidly in the progressive rock/metal category … if even that can come close to defining their sound. Most of their stuff is high energy, some notable exceptions being discussed later.
The band consists of Jeff Fabb on drums, Chris Howorth and Blake Bunzel on guitars, Josh Newell on bass (though Kyle Konkiel takes over for the new CD), and Maria Brink on vocals (I … well, just read the rest of the post).
Jeff has some serious double bass kick talent. I’ve been a fan of good drumming since I discovered Rush, so the bar is set pretty high. He thrashes away on his kit with excellent precision and explosive bomasticism (yes, I just made “bombastic” into a noun. Suck it–I’m an English major). Check out “Circles” on Beautiful Tragedy for a hint at his ability to shift from 1st gear to 5th in a matter of one bar.
I love how Chris and Blake trade licks back and forth across the stereo spectrum. There’s kind of a Dream Theater concept of round-robin instruments between them, and it works really well. They can play an amazing acoustic track like “When the Storm Subsides,” then turn around and kick you in the ear drums with tracks like “Next Life.” Awesomesauce!
Josh. I know this is supposd to be a “speed metal” band, but he’s one of the reasons I’m a tad reticent to immediately lump ITM in such a category. There times that you catch him pulling some very Chris Wolstenhume-like licks. That’s not very speed metal, now is it? It’s rare that a bassist gets to shine. Of course there are notable exceptions, but mostly, bassists are background. And yes–most of Josh’s brilliance is low-key and takes a back seat to Chris and Blake. But he does have his moments where he utterly dominates. Again, check out “Circles” towards the end. I love that bass line he pulls. Subtle, but a perfect compliment to round out the track.
And then there’s Maria Brink, for whom I can only think of 3 words to describe her: What. The. Hell.
I will be the first to admit that I dig chick singers. Most of the time when I’m music shopping, I will base a purchase upon whether a band has a female vocalist. Regardless of whether it’s lo-fi, alternative, metal, indie … what have you.
And so it is that I have a new found infatuation with ITM.
She can sing as soft as an island breeze on an August morning. She can also scream the evil out of you. And she has no compunction against utilizing her range on any given track. One great example of her control is the track “Her Kiss.” She reigns in her uber power with such restraint that you just *want* her to unleash … but no. Then you take a track like “Ashes” off of Beautiful Tragedy. And she just untethers herself with a vocal attack of nuclear proportions.
On “When the Storm Subsides” from Beautiful Tragedy, she seems to pull off a very Ani Difranco sound with her vocals. Intentional or not, it was kind of surprising.
Easily the most haunting track on their entire discography (which, really, at this point is only 3 CDs, one of which I don’t even have yet …) is “Into the Light” on The Dream. Depressingly lovely, it is anything but a break from the intensity of the rest of the CD. The theme of loss and death is evident, but … wow. Amy Lee has nothing on Maria. And I like Evanescence. I don’t know if it’s about someone who was ripped from her too early and with no warning, or if it’s about someone who committed suicide (and, in retrospect, the two theories are definitely not mutually exclusive), or what it’s about. What I do know is that it can make a person weep.
Their newest CD, A Star-Crossed Wasteland, was released in July of this year. Like I said, I haven’t picked it up yet. However, tomorrow is pay day. 🙂 iTunes, look out.
In summary, do yourself a favor. Pick up Beautiful Tragedy and The Dream (I would recommend the ultraviolet edition, if you can find it).