Review: “Disguise” by Motionless In White

At some point after their debut album “Creatures” appeared on the scene there was an interview with Motionless In White frontman Chris Motionless in which he said his band were not going to be another chuga-chuga-metal band like Of Mice & Men. What followed that was a style shift from the bands Metalcore with Gothic overtones through come Industrial infused Metal influenced by the likes of Rammstein to the sound they have today. It’s a sound with Nu-Metal at its roots with the band having a tendancy to write catchy material with sing-a-long ability as well as having some solid hooks. The issue has been on albums of the past that at times they have written stand out songs without having album cohesion as well as having a tendency to lean heavily on their influences to the point that they mimic. So what does “Disguise” have to offer?

Opening with the title track and it’s obvious that Chris Motionless has some angst ridden lyrics lined up for the album with some references to Mental Health appearing throughout. The song itself starts with a music box tune before busting into life with industrial programmed beats at its heart and some slabs of industrial guitar work. The chorus is a big sing-a-long with some tasty breakdowns and a surprise “Bleigh!”. Some vitriolic lyrical moments in the later half make for what is now considered classic Motionless In White. “Headache” steps out of the industrial shoes and sees the band create a KoRn inspired track that takes the riff from the step up in “Freak On A Leash” and uses it to create a chorus of “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up” accompanied by some vinyl scratch work that is straight out of 1999. Fortunately it doesn’t sound dated, instead giving a nostalgic worship note to a solid tune. Bringing back the industrial vibe and programmed beats that underpin everything is “</c0de>”. Chris Motionless love of Linkin Park is well documented and the band have covered “One Step Closer” live on numerous occasions. This song takes that love and turns it into a tune that you might think was Linkin Park if it appeared on the radio or in snippet form on a TV show, the chorus being the biggest part of that. That doesn’t make it a bad song by any stretch.

Getting back to a heavier groove “Thoughts & Prayers” takes a step back towards the “Creatures” era of the band with a heavier opening verse of venomous vocals from Chris Motionless before breaking into a melodic chorus that gives a commercial aspect to a song that doesn’t need it. The rest of the tune is as pummellingly heavy as the band have produced in the last few years with some seriously impressive kit work. Stepping into an arena filling sound with the introduction of “Legacy”. A big open drum pattern and something akin to Falling in Reverse make for a commercial hard rock sound that isn’t bad as such but doesn’t sound like the band at all. In isolation you’d struggle as a passerby to pick it out as a Motionless In White tune. The positive lyrics are a nice touch and if there is a music video for this one and a support slot with say Five Finger Death Punch it wouldn’t be a surprise. Contining their love of writing sequels to songs they have in their locker “Undead Ahead 2: The Tale of the Midnight Ride” takes us on a trip to haunted wood on all Hallows Eve for a horror film inspired piece of work that is a welcome return to the theatrics that we know and love. The chorus is another big sing-a-long affair with orchestral work adding to the sense of epic. The vocals have the full range on show and there is no faulting the song writing or musicanship on this song or the album as a whole.

Stripping the sound back “Holding on to Smoke” takes an angst ridden Nu-Metal introspective lyrical themes and makes it into the backdrop to a slower haunting song that works really well. Speaking of the oddities of touring life with a real sense of gravity, the sense of meaning on this cut is evident throughout. Musically it’s big rhythms and lack of any form of lead flourish or programming keep things on the vocals which is the intention and works really well. Telling the story of a broken relationship “Another Life” keeps that stripped back sound but builds in some simple lead guitar that is kept in the background of the sound to add something that you might not hear on the first few spins. The big drum sound from Vinny Mauro is really good but after “Holding on to Smoke” a song that occupies the same sound, it drags somewhat. If the two songs weren’t back to back it would help “Another Life” out.

Changing style “Broadcasting from Beyond The Grave: Death Inc.” starts with a spoken word radio transmission element before moving into Rob Zombie inspired industrial Metal. There are a few elements that you might recognise from “The Golden Age of Grotesque” by Marilyn Manson with an all girl gang chant of “Death Incorporated” but it’s nothing we haven’t heard from the Scranton Pennsylvanians before. It’s a total nostalgia trip and good fun. “Brand New Numb” continues that style and sound with a change in guitar tone and if it wasn’t already abundantly obvious, we’re in the territory whereby this is a collection of songs rather than having album cohesion. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends if you prefer a chocolate bar or a box of chocolates. Its upbeat attitude laiden song that has a certain comedic element to it with some tongue in cheek lyrics. Album closer “Catharsis” ends things on a ballad that is synth heavy and a bit of an empty void. The sentiment is there but it doesn’t have the gravity of some of the earlier material. It doesn’t have the sense of fun or the energy and instead is more of a statement for statements sake. As an album “Disguise” has some real stand out moments but lacks that something to bring it to the next level. It’s a guilty pleasure of an album that fans will enjoy but perhaps it won’t turn as many heads this time around [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Disguise
  2. Headache
  3. </c0de>
  4. Thoughts & Prayers
  5. Legacy
  6. Undead Ahead 2: The Tale of the Midnight Ride
  7. Holding on to Smoke
  8. Another Life
  9. Broadcasting from Beyond The Grave: Death Inc.
  10. Brand New Numb
  11. Catharsis

“Disguise” by Motionless In White is out now via Roadrunner Records

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