To break the mold of mediocrity in the world of metal, it now takes more than just a gimmick. In a sea of breakdowns, blast beats, and generic riffs, there is always real pressure on upcoming bands to raise the standard. Sure, in its inception, adding electronic instrumentation to metal seemed like a grand idea. Releases like Someday Came Suddenly gained a lot of attention by going against the normal, but now it is a commonplace practice. In almost all vestiges of metal, electronic influence is present, and a lot of times it is used as a crutch, a stunt, a last resort to transforming an otherwise bland album. The question remains, then: can a good blend of synthesizers and heavy riffage continue to survive and succeed, or will it always be viewed as a sign of a failing piece of work?
Fortunately, this cry for originality does not fall on deaf ears. The Pennsylvania sextet Motionless In White have succeeded in perfecting the ever-popular “trancecore” movement taking the metal world by storm. Centered around the horrific and spooky, Creatures blends haunting themes with all the elements that make synth-filled metal so successful, and yet the album has both attitude and refreshing variety. There are no moments where it feels like the band is relying too heavily on the synth presence, simply because its presence is not stark; it sounds and feels like it should be belonging, unlike most other bands who throw synthesizers, effects, and processing into their music afterward (much like an artist who paints onto an already painted canvas).
Then, of course, comes the issue of “breakdowns”. As frequent as they appear on the album, they don’t seem to grow old. The world may never run out of breakdowns, but that doesn’t mean a band can’t try to change the extremely poor image placed upon them. A metal band shouldn’t be regarded as talentless and boring if they decide to implement breakdowns in their music. It is, after all, a main characteristic of metalcore as of recent. And in Creatures, Motionless In White definitely do a good job of bringing back some lost respect for breakdowns.
The album starts out with a dissonant breakdown and lilting piano melody in “Immaculate Misconception”, and Chris Cerulli enters full force with an impressive vocal range. At times, the Attack Attack!-esque scream is used, yelling into the scream. At other times, like in the track “Abigail”, some August Burns Red influence is observed, which is understandable given their location. And in other places still, like “Puppets (the First Snow)”, the screams are much higher pitched, flowing along a Black Dahlia Murder vein. The riffs are also a synthesis of many different styles, different and yet not isolated. The chorus is almost always done with clean vocals by TJ Bell, and from a stylistic standpoint then, Creatures might seem like any other metal band. But it is the subtleties that make this album a real diamond in the rough.
Though much of the album seems to cry out a “Halloween” theme, the lyrics prove otherwise. In fact, what is truly clever about this is that the emotions behind the musical style are then conveyed into the lyrics. Motionless In White could just as easily have written some songs about difficult relationship problems and that would be the end of it. Instead, what is added is the grandiose feeling one gets from hearing the lyrics under a haunting melody of bone-chilling piano and synth lines. It makes all the topics seem larger than life, in a sense. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, perhaps this happened outside of the musicians’ purposeful scope, but it takes place nonetheless.
Moreover, the tempo changes in the songs are used to the band’s advantage. Instead of causing confusion, as can be the case, the tempo changes accentuate the real selling points of the album. The beginning to the title track starts with a synth/guitar opener, and then slows down to the words “I fall/ this is the end of you”.
From a comparative standpoint, this album is worlds apart from When Love Met Destruction in instrumentation, production, and unity of the band members. Sometimes fast and aggressive, sometimes soft and emotional, this is how metalcore should be done. It delivers a transparent message to its audience, which, more often than not, is to a band’s advantage. Creatures is a scary take on something that can be scary for all of us: growing up and letting go. And for Motionless In White, growing up is definitely something they have proven that they are able to do.
2. We Only Come Out At Night
3. London In Terror
7. .Com Part II
8. Count Choculitis
9. City Lights
10. Puppets (The First Snow)
11. Undead Ahead
12. Scissorhands (The Last Snow)
Venting screams of angst backed by the thunder of drums, guitar and keyboard, Pennsylvanian metalcore band, Motionless in White translates energy and emotion into a perfect storm of music to rain down on listeners. Comprised of vocalist Chris Cerulli, guitarist/vocalist TJ Bell, guitarist Ryan Sitkowski, bassist Ricky Olson, keyboardist Josh Balz, and drummer Angelo Parente, the group started as a project of friends in high school which performed covers of famous rock songs. ... read more