Nature counts the black widow spider amongst its most fascinating and dangerous anomalies. The female arachnid often devours its mate after copulation. It's both a delicate and dangerous predator. In This Moment isn't all that different from this enigmatic beast. Led by frontwoman Maria Brink, the Los Angeles hard rock outfit strikes with a seductive metallic bite on their aptly titled fifth full-length album, Black Widow.
"Black Widow is a metaphor for this innocent young girl who gets infected with life, traumas, experiences, and the balance of light and darkness," explains Maria. "She becomes this poised and powerful creature. That's the album."
"We went into this with the title Black Widow," says lead guitarist Chris Howorth. "It fits the image of Maria as this powerful heroine. If you think of the boys in the audience watching our stage show, she's like the black widow pulling them all in."
The record, the first for the band on Atlantic Records, picks up where the group's 2012 breakthrough, Blood, left off. That album saw In This Moment debut at #15 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest chart position to date, and eventually sold over 250,000 units in the U.S. alone. It also spawned the single "Blood," which rose to #9 on the Mainstream Rock and Active Rock Songs charts. A sold out headline tour, HELLPOP, followed, as well as appearances at the Uproar Festival and Rock On The Range, and jaunts with Shinedown and Papa Roach. After the whirlwind of Blood subsided, Maria and Chris retreated to Las Vegas in February 2014 to begin working on what would become Black Widow with longtime producer Kevin Churko [Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch].
While writing and recording in the studio, Maria and Chris both tapped into the fearless ethos that characterized Blood, inciting their next creative evolution in the process.
"It's almost like I was growing up in this industry," Maria admits. "I swear I went from a girl to a woman. I used to hold myself back, and I had all of these fears. I woke up one day and realized it doesn't matter what anybody thinks. We have to do what we want to do. When I did that, I was freed. We could do this big grandiose show, and we could make the music we wanted. It began with Blood. That's where we started to come alive and figure out who we really are. We let go of any walls and limitations. Black Widow is us doing what's in our hearts."
"Black Widow is a progression from the last record," Chris affirms. "That opened up the floodgates for us. There were no boundaries. We could just go for it. We weren't afraid of any ideas. We didn't worry about anyone's opinion. We approached the music with that attitude."
Their boundless approach shines through in album opener "Sex Metal Barbie." Tempering an industrial crunch and sexually charged synths with gnashing riffs and hauntingly hypnotic vocal delivery, the track instantly transfixes, calling out haters who hide behind keyboards.
"People can be so cruel on the Internet," she sighs. "I actually don't read anything negative about me or the band anymore. I don't let myself get sucked into that. In the end, music comes down to someone's personal perception of what they love. It's not meant for everyone. I wanted to empower myself with that online negativity somehow. I literally went on these sites and read mean things and rumors about me. I wrote them down and transformed them into lyrics for the song. I turned it all around."
"That was the second song we did," the guitarist recalls. "It came from Maria saying, 'What about building a metal song around a cool hip-hop beat?' Everything was constructed piece by piece, and it was very experimental. Once we finished the song, we felt like we had something special. It was a catalyst for more music."
Meanwhile, "Sick Like Me" begins with an eerie buzz before snapping into muscular distortion and a propulsive guitar gallop. Everything explodes on an anthemic sing-a-long hook.
"It's about when somebody loves you for everything you are," she states. "They love you even for what you consider flaws. It's that vision of people who are super eccentric and twisted, but they're perfect like that because that's who they are. They're meant to be."
Then there's "Big Bad Wolf," which bares its teeth with a bludgeoning riff, keyboard swell, and piercing scream. "It was destined to be a faster song," adds Chris. "Maria did this choppy, cool Mike Patton-style verse. It became really intense."
Maria smiles, "I like to say I have the Big Bad Wolf in me and this Little Piggy in me. In my perception, the Big Bad Wolf is the enlightened and loving part of myself, whereas the Little Piggy is the dark side. I have a natural pull towards darker things. It's the internal struggle of those two animals in me, but I realize both are very necessary for all of us. I need to embrace that fire, be wild and primal. That's important too."
In This Moment also teamed up with Shinedown's Brent Smith for the stunning duet "Sexual Hallucination." It’s an elegant electronic-infused piece that drips sexuality and darkness.
"We love Brent and Shinedown," Chris continues. "We didn't think we'd have a shot at getting him, but he instantly said yes. The song is a little different for him, and he jumped at the chance to do it."
One of the album's most powerful moments comes on the piano-driven rumination "The Fighter." Contrasted with the resounding stark keys, Maria's voice proves especially potent. She goes on, "It's embracing and accepting who I am. I used to think something was wrong with me. I've come to learn I'm perfect in how fucked up I am. I wouldn't have these songs to sing or be able to connect with people without that."
Ultimately, that connection with fans is what drives the band. "Their loyalty is incredible," declares Maria. "It comes down to us doing this for ourselves and our fans. We owe it all to them, and we're excited for everybody to experience this. This is who we are, and it's for them."
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