Motionless In White – Disguise (2019)

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Forming in 2006 and hailing from Pennsylvania (should that be Transylvania?), Motionless in White have a brand of metal that is deceptive – it’s accessible and often toe-tapping – until you scratch beneath the surface of the lyrics and find the themes to be raw, emotional and occasionally confronting.

Chris Motionless handles the vocals with dizzying aptitude. His voice is rare. In one song he effortlessly transitions from sounding like The Cookie Monster on crack, to angelic, to some form of angry animal. Yes, this is on an album, but I’ve seen and heard him do it live.

“Disguise” cracks the record open with a music box-like opening, that then winds up into an infectious headbanger. Chris Motionless signals that his voice has lost nothing, unveiling his impressive vocal abilities right off the bat. The track is about getting people out of your way. The tempo changes are engaging and the drumming frantic.

“Headache” begins with more demented playing, with an acoustic feel this time. Things slow a little and the arrangement is stripped back. It contains elements of scratching platters and Chris growling, “Shut up,” repeatedly. It’s track of simmering emotion, battling inner demons. A swanky bass line that felt like Slipknot was a welcome surprise.

“/<c0de>”, apart from being annoying to type, is a real change of pace and a departure from type. It opens with Chris rapping a little and it cleverly incorporates digital riffs as a central element. The layers of this track are dizzying – every time I heard it, I heard something different.

“Thoughts & Prayers” is heralded by Chris’s confronting growls and the drumming sets a demonic pace. Things drop down a gear or two and the guitar work and drumming take on machine-like elements. The track makes comment on religion and the futility of it.

“Legacy” is quite stunning in its simplicity and it features an engaging rhythm. It questions the legacy that we leave behind – is it one of scars and blood? It’s a real ‘raise your lighters in the air’ kind of song.

“Undead Ahead 2: The Tale of the Midnight Ride” is a metalcore masterclass that opens with shuffling sounds and the sound of horses. The driving guitar and percussion give this track a cinematic feel and now Chris Motionless is just showing off, using his vocal range and techniques to great effect.

“Holding onto Smoke” has a clear and simple guitar opening and the air of desperation is tangible, as Chris struggles to keep everything in his life together.

“Another Life” is an accessible and safe offering and it augers well with the album so far. It’s Motionless in White at their most comfortable and it’s musical quality had me in awe.

“Broadcasting from Beyond the Grave: Death Inc.” Begins with a retro radio station-like sample, but then it unleashes into a fantastic track. This track may well be one of the best that they have delivered. It’s Rob Zombie-like, using similar riffs and pacing, as well as audio clips through the track. These aren’t from movies though – they have been recorded for use in the track.

“Brand New Numb” has an acoustic opening which launches into another toe tapper. However, listening closer has you questioning what you’re enjoying – the lyrics are somewhat dangerous. Rollicking guitars and a killer bass line enrich this track immensely.

“Catharsis” is Chris at his harmonic best. The track has some carefully considered percussion and it features blended piano and encapsulating vocals. I am always intrigued by the way that a band chooses to leave us from a record. I looked up a definition of “Catharsis” on Google and I got “a process of cleansing, thereby providing relief from strong or repressed emotions”.

Perfect. This album has been a raw and intense emotional journey. To leave us in a somewhat upbeat and cleansing way is abundantly appropriate.

From a Motionless in White offering, I’d expect some good helpings of: deranged vocal techniques; complex drumming; and melodic and interwoven guitar tracks. I would also expect a seasoning of: deeply emotional and vulnerable journeys; battling inner demons; confronting self-doubt; coping with pain; and getting people out of your way. These ingredients are there in spades.

It’s a well-honed, heavy and hypnotic sound and the album contains a number of anthems that will come in handy to sing at full volume when we need them, as life serves us up challenges or celebrations.

The band has also taken some risks with digital intervention and some different lyrical styles. These has served to enhance the recipe and it’s 11 courses of sweet, sour and spicy that had me hungry for more.

8/10

Review by Greg Noble

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