Review

Review

Motionless in White: 'Infamous' – CD Review [NSFW]

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Even before Pennsylvania-based metal unit Motionless in White released their debut full-length album Creatures, they had already grabbed my attention... and not just because frontman Chris Motionless and I happen to own the same Bauhaus t-shirt. It turns out Chris is a huge horror fan, and much of the band's music is directly inspired by horror stories and movies. My first taste of their dark, intense gothic hardcore came three years ago with a sick cover of Rob Zombie's “Dragula,” which impressed the hell out of me. The album's arrival the following year both met and exceeded my expectations, and their rapidly growing fanbase exploded in response.
 
For example, when FEARnet premiered the band's controversial video “Immaculate Misconception” – directed by Cody Snider, son of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider (who also played a small role) – it became an overnight viral sensation. [If you somehow missed that one, you can still watch it right here.] So when the band announced the impending arrival of the long awaited follow-up record Infamous, I knew fan anticipation (including my own) would go through the roof... and to send things completely over the top, we also got a hold of their new music video for “Devil's Night,” with Snider again behind the camera and featuring Chris and the team at their most shocking.
 
 
Before we get to that, let's dig into the music of Infamous, which finds the band turning a creative corner. Creatures allowed the band to establish their signature balance of gut-punching, deeply-dropped riffs and sweeping keyboard passages, creating a threatening but compelling emotional tone that gives Chris's vocals the right combination of pained urgency and violent rage; Infamous continues to explore the first album's themes of social angst in a horror context, although this time many of the moody gothic elements have been dialed back in favor of a more brutal, measured approach incorporating industrial metal structures and beats, thrash riffs & leads, and fewer metalcore elements. Adding to this tonal shift, Chris's vocals feel more disturbing this time – distinctly demonic on the harsh passages but deeper and more ominous in the clean sections, running the spectrum from Marilyn Manson to Dani Filth. It's quite a seismic shift, which Chris readily acknowledges. 
 
“I feel like a lot of bands today stick to these unwritten set of rules when writing their songs, as though there's this barrier that they aren't allowed to break through that prevents them from taking risks,” he explained. “I really wanted to challenge that concept and explore a lot of different styles of music in one record, even more so than we did with Creatures.” This metamorphosis is aided in large part by the production skills of Tim Skold, a heavyweight in industrial music and a long-time collaborator with (and former member of) the legendary KMFDM.
 
That sonic switcheroo is more shocking than you might expect... the opening cut “Black Damask (The Fog)” begins solemnly, with a spooky gothic piano entry which is literally scorched into cinders by burning thrash riffs, as soaring synths supply vintage string chords as counterpoint. There's as much dread as anger here – a mood which continues in “Devil's Night,” one of the album's most ruthless cuts which meshes blippy synth sequences with crushing industrial-grade riffs. Chris's clean vocals have a moodier tone than he employed on Creatures, so there's no escape from the overall feeling of doom. (You can hear for yourself in the video at the end of this article.) Off-kilter keyboards and phasey riffs combined with leering vocals land “A-M-E-R-I-C-A” solidly on Marilyn Manson turf, all the way down to a skewed carnival rhythm and the creepy solo. The band thrashes things up again in “Burned at Both Ends,” which features some cool gang-singing and vocal harmonies.
 
Lyrically “The Divine Infection” could be considered a sequel of sorts to “Immaculate Misconception,” but musically it's a huge departure from the earlier song, opting instead for the decadent devil's-playground approach. I'm sure the Manson comparisons will really rain down on this piece, but oddly enough I'd say it beats the Spooky One at his own game here, carrying off an anti-oppression message with such emotional intensity that it quickly became my favorite track on this record. “Puppets 2 (The Rain)” continues a narrative thread from the Creatures track, this time with a vocal assist from Soilwork's Bjorn Speed Strid, and it amps up the earlier version's gothic mood in both speed and aggression, resulting in an effective fusion of Scandinavian melodic death and gothic/symphonic metal.
 
“Sinematic” is a great adjective to describe MIW's songwriting style, so it's fitting that the song by that name shifts the mood into pensive drama, with a deep rhythmic undercurrent that keeps the tension high. Bleeding Through vocalist Brandan Schieppati shares mic duties with Chris on “If It's Dead, We'll Kill It,” resulting in one of the album's most varied tracks, where the hand of Tim Skold is quite apparent in lightning switch-ups from electro sequences to brutal dropped chugs to gothic metal keyboard washes. There's a sick lyric video for this track featuring a gallery of classic movie monsters, so be sure to give it a spin:
 
 
“Synthetic Love” sports a wicked dark riff synched with massive keyboard chords, building into a grand-scale production that fills every corner of the sound field (Chris's final scream sounds like it's coming from another dimension), and anthemic chorus chanting. “Hatefuck” is a return to sleazy industrial metal (Manson's ghost is again evident), driven by an electro-metal loop and stacks and stacks of twisted power chords. The mighty chugs return for “Underdog,” which returns to the gothic flavor of Creatures, but with the horror elements dialed back a bit... that is until the monstrous industrial riffs of the title track, with Chris snarling talk-sung verses, all dripping with delay and reverb, multi-tracked to sound like a Greek chorus from hell. Chris was right when he said Infamous would be an album of many flavors, and while some may come as a shock to fans of the previous album, I think they'll find their tastes expanding to include this new recipe.
 
As I promised, we've also acquired Cody Snider's highly dangerous music video for “Devil's Night,” and although all of MIW's clips tap into horrific imagery, this one is the first designed to be truly terrifying. “When Cody and I first started discussing the video for "Devil's Night,” my original idea was to just for once go all out in the direction of creating a badass horror movie... something that could potentially scare the hell out of someone... and step back from trying to really drive a strong message home,” Chris said. “After really digging in to ideas, we came to the point of asking ourselves 'Why not do both?'” 
 
And so they did. The result lies below...
 

 

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