July 16, 2015 In This Moment heat up Starland Ballroom Sayreville, NJ 7-10-15 w/ 36 Crazyfists, The Defiled & First Decree
No strangers to pounding the pavement, In This Moment have taken what has become one of the best live shows in Metal back on the road this Summer to further support their 2014 album Black Widow. After years of hard work, and almost losing the band totally, In This Moment rose to new heights back in 2012 with their fourth studio album Blood. Now a member of major label Atlantic Records, the band continue to take on headlining tours to further develop a theatrical mystique with more props, varied wardrobe changes, and enough tricks up their sleeves to keep the fans continuing to come out. Following a Spring run with Butcher Babies and Upon a Burning Body, this time they team up with a resurrected 36 Crazyfists, Industrial Metal extremists The Defiled, and newcomers First Decree. After a what was a busy Independence Day holiday week for some, the tour came to the well-known Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Friday July 10th to heat up what was already a hot and sticky evening.
As an added bonus to the bill, New Jersey natives Scars of Envy began the evening promptly at 6:30 PM ahead of the touring package. Consisting of Vocalist Ethan Murphy, Bassist John Gallagher, Drummer Marc Ambrosy, and Guitarist Jeff Anthony, Scars of Envy bring an aggressive brand of Metal with them to the stage. With riffs that are razor sharp and vocals that fiercely assaulted, the band’s hometown crowd were taken deep into a groove. It is recommended to check out their album New Damn Nation, and be on the look out for upcoming shows.
Up directly after was the burgeoning band from Cheyenne, Wyoming named First Decree. Coming out armed and ready to start things off, they radiated energy that only a young, hungry band can emit, they showcased tracks from their forthcoming debut This is Our Rise in early August. Vocalist Travis James, Guitarist Dane Lopez-Smith, and rhythm section Bassist Isaac Lopez-Smith with Drummer Zach Lopez-Smith round out the quartet with all four aging in their early to mid 20’s. James introduced many of the tunes while paying homage to the big names to follow. Heavy hitters like “Here We Go Again” and the current radio single “This is Our Rise” certainly garnered more than a handful of new fans. James led the crowd through a few chants of “Who are We? First Decree!,” ensuring the name resonated with all in attendance. Slowing things down a bit in the middle of their set, the band played a mid-tempo selection, “All I Am,” before revving their engines to blast into their final number. Playing as a tight, cohesive unit with infectious energy, First Decree certainly left their mark in New Jersey and can expect big things to come in the future.
The second national act on the bill, The Defiled, hail all the way from London, England and brought their Industrial based sound, tinted with Metalcore and hints of Thrash, to The Garden State with no signs of fatigue or remorse. The band, composed of Vocalist/Guitarist Stitch D, Bassist Vince Hyde, The AVD on keyboards, and a newcomer on the drums replacing Needles, got the crowd literally jumping with their opening number. Vocalist Stitch D and AVD were quick to involve crowd participation and provide comic relief between numbers, showing their English charm. Their second number, “As I Drown” from 2013’s Nuclear Blast release Daggers, showcased the bands ability to seamlessly flow from punishing verses to soaring melodies while providing head-nodding rhythms and breakdowns. The band introduced their new drummer and urged the crowd to have drinks with them after their set. Stitch D introduced a new number, hinting at a new release in the works, before moving into closer “Unspoken.” While blasting through their final tune of the night, the first circle pit of the night opened up on the floor, demonstrating the crowd’s approval and anticipation for the two acts to follow.
Anchorage, Alaska brethren 36 Crazyfists need no introduction, being more than twenty years in the game and having survived the ever changing fads in the Metal and Hard Rock genre that have come and gone. The band’s solid core still consists of original vocalist Brock Lindow, guitarist Steve Holt, and bassist Mick Whitney (after rejoining in 2012), and more recent drummer Kyle Baltus. Coming out to a substantial roar from the crowd, it was clear that New Jersey had more than its share of old school 36 Crazyfists fans in the house. The band formed a small pre-hockey game like huddle before blasting into “Vanish” off of 2015’s Time and Trauma via Spinefarm records. Playing an excellent mix of classics like “At the End of August” and “Skin and Atmosphere” from their biggest record, 2004’s A Snow Capped Romance, with newer tunes like “Sorrow Sings” and “Also Am I”, the Alaskan snow dogs demonstrated their versatile and genre bending abilities. Vocalist Brock Lindow literally hulked over the stage while never standing still for more than a moment. Bassist Whitney and guitarist Holt moved in perfect rhythm, head-banging in time with one another, while Baltus kept the double kick moving at a respectable tempo. Lindow commanded the crowd like a giant, barking orders of “no standing still” and “let’s dance” before the subtle guitar opening of “Bloodwork.” Holt’s signature distorted guitar riffs and chords have withstood the test of times and are still as unique and identifiable by all fans, especially in numbers like “Skin and Atmosphere” and “I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops.”
The band, impressed with the energy from the crowd, thanked the members in attendance saying that, “It was just what they needed,” illustrating the literal time and trauma that the members have endured being so many years in the game. Closing with their first major single “Slit Wrist Theory” from their 2002 Roadrunner debut Bitterness the Star, the floor erupted with old school fans and new fans alike, providing support for Lindow during the cathartic chorus and breakdown. 36 Crazyfists left the crowd sweltering and would return for drinks with fans and friends throughout the remainder of the evening.
There is not a Rock/Metal fan in existence right now that has not heard of Los Angeles, California’s In This Moment. Aside from the band’s history in Metalcore and Century Media, which lead to their major lineup change and reestablishment with the aforementioned Blood, original members Maria Brink and Guitarist Chris Howorth have managed to build something huge, over the past three years in particular. With their new sound and lineup, In This Moment effectively changed their image and message all in one giant swoop, while still maintaining originality and integrity. Joined by additional Guitarist Randy Weitzel, Bassist Travis Johnson, and Drummer Tom Hane, In This Moment has become one of the biggest Hard Rock bands to emerge the impressive Black Widow. Now known for their eclectic costumes, stage presence, and carnival-like antics on stage via vocalist Maria Brink, fans of all ages and subgenres were packing the venue in waves.
Taking the stage fairly promptly at 10:00 PM, Maria’s voice boomed through the house speakers, teasing the crowd and reminding them to “Become the Show,” the band’s new mantra as seen on their social media sites. As each member made their way to the stage from the dark corners, the roar became more and more ferocious until Ms. Brink herself took her spot front and center, flanked by her female dancers on each side. Sporting an outfit that would make the Babadook jealous, Maria came out in a large top hat, huge extended claws from her fingers, and huge elevated boots that seemed to come from Marilyn Manson’s wardrobe. The band ignited into “Sick Like Me,” and the crowd completely lost its cool.
While it was hard to see exactly what the rhythm section was doing amidst the plumes of CO2 vapor and alternating lights, the pulsing drumming and low end notes were unmistakably there courtesy of Johnson and Hane, Guitarist Wetizel’s skeletal shirt sleeve glistened in the reflection as his arm danced over chords. Only Howorth’s stance was clearly visible aside from Maria, due to his dreads flailing in sync with the music, but even his face was masked behind a layer of paint and décor. It is clearly evident that the band has joined the big leagues now, and this may be one of the last club run tours as the band may have to branch out to bigger venues in order to support its massive stage presence and ensemble. Both Maria and her supporting dancers moved in complete unison to the breakdowns, rhythms, and cues from the supporting band, suggesting hours of choreographed practice and rehearsal. Between numbers, Maria would disappear into a big red tent behind her, only to emerge in a completely different outfit fit for the next song in the setlist.
Coming back to the stage for “Black Widow,” in an outfit similar to a Ringmaster at a carnival, her dancers sported sexy nurse outfits, leaving little to the imagination, while holding huge needles. Maria’s stunning vocals reverberated throughout the venue as she sprayed a huge canister of CO2 vapor back and forth amongst the fervent crowd. The setlist was comprised primarily of songs from Blood and Black Widow, seeing the band cover their hits and favorites like “Adrenalize Me,” the provocative “Sex Metal Barbie,” and “Big Bad Wolf.” Brink was quick to introduce each member of the band, encouraging fan cheers for her fellow members before prompting Hane into an impressive drum solo. The band closed with the hit “Whore” where all female members in attendance were screaming so loud, it was hard to decifer Brink’s voice from the crowd. Before leaving, the band returned with a much coveted encore of “Blood” to leave fans in a solid state of euphora and fatigue.
After being annihilated by the beating of four impressive bands prior, In This Moment was the band to drive the last nail. Their stage show is still second to none and it looks as Blood was a new beginning, Black Widow is the continuation, and the future possibilities are endless. Fully satisfying Starland Ballroom, it was a night that showcased the never say die attitude of In This Moment, and it has paid off beyond their wildest dreams.