In This Moment released their eagerly anticipated sixth studio album RITUAL, on July 21st with producer and longtime collaborator Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne). The album sees In This Moment pushing their inimitably dark sound forward with a provocative sense of pervading doom and metallic blues power. Highlights include a dramatic reimagination of Phil Collins’ classic In The Air Tonight along with Black Wedding, a walk down the aisle of musical madness that sees lead singer Maria Brink sharing the mic with legendary Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. We get a few words from guitarist Chris Howorth to discuss the new songs and more.
“With the new album, some of the things we wanted to achieve was to kind of have a rawer sound and have the songs translate live better and I think we achieved that”, said Chris. “There’s a lot more guitar parts and a lot more things happening for us to play live versus samples and things like that, so musically we are really happy with how it turned out.”
Ritual is a little darker than previous albums, something which the band intentionally wanted to bring into the songs more prominently. “Well we’re metal fans and we always want to bring this heavy edge and we really wanted to have a darker tone to the feel of the album which I was all about in this kind of darker religious overtone so I think that kind of led the album to sound the way that it sounds.”
The band once again collaborated with producer Kevin Churko who has been part of In This
Moment on almost every release which although a formula has been created over the years through getting to know each others methods and process, things don’t necessarily get any easier on each album.
“We definitely have a formula and you think it would be even smoother as the albums go on but we get in there every time and it’s a process and it’s a grind”, Chris explains. “It’s not skipping through the fields holding hands, we’re battling it out trying to make this the best it can be and everyone has such high standards and high hopes for everything and he’s such a talented person that we’re fighting to make sure it’s great at all times. So it’s definitely not gotten any easier but it’s gotten better.”
Chris also goes on to describe the inspirations for ideas and whether anything new came about on ‘Ritual’. “Ideas can come from anywhere I guess, any little thing where Maria (Brink, vocals) will wake up in the middle of the night humming a little diddy in her head that she wants to try to lay some music to. One thing that we did this time that we had never done before was go meet with some different writers other than Kevin Churko, Maria and myself and that went really well too. We actually made some kind of neat connections and made a couple of good songs so it was full.”
‘Ritual’ has a couple of noteworthy highlights, the first with the cover of the ultimate classic song ‘In The Air Tonight’ by the legendary Phil Collins and the other being the collaboration with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford who makes a guest vocal appearance on ‘Black Wedding’.
“We knew we wanted to do a cover song on this album and we agonized over what song to do and “In The Air Tonight” has come up every time we’ve done an album as far as a cover but we’ve never wanted to do it because it’s already so good, how are we going to make it better or different or -there’s no way to make this song any better- kind of thing. So we just said, ‘You know what? we’ve been talking about it so long, let’s just do it and let’s just try to make it different and put our own spin on it’, and not try to capture what he did exactly, let’s just try to make our own little version of it. So that’s what we did and I think it’s pretty cool, it is what it is.”
Chris continues on when asked about the Rob Halford appearance. “We had this great song that we felt could only be better having a guest like Rob and the lyrics are Maria talking to a priest. Rob’s kinda been in our lives the last few years, we’ve all gotten to know him a little bit and he expressed interest in the band and has been a big influence on all of us so we hit him up and he said yes. We got this amazing song out of it and I can’t wait for people to get to hear it.”
Like with many people who grew up listening to CD’s and vinyl, Chris reminisces about growing up in a time when albums meant more than just the individual songs themselves. In a recent interview he explains how he used to listen to records on repeat over and over again and how he would love for the world to listen and absorb ‘Ritual’ in much the same way. When asked whether making ‘Ritual’ as a real album was intended to bring back some of that experience, Chris says the band like to always retain a lot of that mentality and ideas but also accept that the music industry has changed as well as how people listen to music.
“That’s how we think and we made the artwork really cool and the packaging really cool and I realize some of our hardcore fans are going to pick this up but I also have to face the facts and the whole band do too. It’s a new age and I don’t have a CD player in my car, I don’t have one at home. It is a digital world and it’s hard for people to kinda get that same kind of feeling that I used to get, so we’re just starting to try and really figure out how to bring that in somehow to songs individually and focus on making sure every song is exceptional and not just 3 or 4 out of an album and the rest are kind of fillers. Because people aren’t listening to songs like that anymore.”
Asked where he thinks the music industry will move to next and whether things ever be the same again, Chris admits that there is no going back now. “I definitely don’t think things will ever be the same again, even a resurgence in vinyl or whatever is not going to beat the masses. The way the music industry is heading now is it’s all going to be streaming and you know what? We’re going to have to figure out how to float and ride the wave.”
So what made the guitarist get into music and be in a band?
“I definitely was influenced as a kid from MTV and Motley Crue and Ratt and Poison and Kiss and all these cool 80’s bands like Metallica and Megadeth and Testament and Slayer and Pantera”, says Chris. “Those are the bands that influenced me and made me want to be a musician.”
We throw in a couple of Rockpit closers on that note and ask which album Chris would love to be a fly on the wall for during the recording of any album he could choose from. “That’s a pretty good question. I guess I would like to be a fly on the wall for the recording of “Far Beyond Driven” from Pantera.”
And the meaning of life?
“Life is hard and then you die.”
Ritual is out now