MOTIONLESS IN WHITE - Disguise (Album)

 
 
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JAMES HOLDER

MOTIONLESS IN WHITE are such a strange musical beast. They manage to be revered and then seemingly universally derided simultaneously. If you take to the internet, you’ll soon discover that they are both the best and worst thing to happen to Metalcore in the history of humankind. If nothing else, it takes a special kind of band to split a fanbase into two almost comical extremes. The reason for this divisiveness is laid bare on the band’s latest album ‘Disguise.’ 

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Pennsylvania natives is that they lack their own distinct sound and character, leaning far too much on their influences. And album number five does absolutely nothing to dispel that criticism. Instead, they lean into those influences harder than ever. It’s a classic case of a teenager who’s been told they need to dress more sensibly, so they go and get three tattoos, four piercings, a Mohican, cover themselves in unbelievable levels of eye liner, the most revealing outfits they can find and as much fishnet as money can buy, just to prove a point. MOTIONLESS IN WHITE are essentially a teenager having a passive aggressive fight with their parents. 

It’s not always the best of signs when the best track on an album is track one and that sadly proves to be the case here. With that being said, the title track is an absolute gem, and everything you need from a MIW tune. It’s big, it’s loud, and the chorus is a stunningly beautiful monstrosity. It’s the sonic version of a mosh pit. You’re thrown around, left battered and beaten, but grinning like you’ve found a tenner down the back of the sofa. 

Following tracks ‘Headache’ and ‘</c0de>’ are also more than solid, and sees the album get off to a pretty strong start. The former in particular is a real grower and gets better with every listen. However, this is about as good as ‘Disguise,’ gets. The problem with the album isn’t that all of the songs are bad, it’s just that we’ve heard it all before, often by other bands doing it better. ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ is a kind of Linkin Park/Korn/Slipknot hybrid, and there is not an original thought to be found. While ‘Legacy’ finds the band almost trying to be an edgier version of Shinedown. 

‘Undead Ahead 2: The Tale Of The Midnight Ride’ is the heaviest and most grandiose track on the record and for a brief moment things look promising. The intro, and opening verse are all out chaos, then of course we get to the now standard, radio friendly chorus. The whole album is indecisive. It wants to be commercial and make sure it gets picked up on the mainstream radar, but at the same time wants to carry that classic Metalcore aggression. The results are mixed at best, and flat out jarring at worst. 

‘Holding On To Smoke’ and ‘Another Life’ are fine. Nothing more and nothing less. They’re just there being unoffensive but not especially noteworthy either. See Breaking Benjamin on your score cards for those of you playing influence bingo at home. Yet the album doesn’t hit its real low point until the arrival of ‘Broadcasting From Beyond The Grave: Death Inc.’ Marilyn Manson wrote this twenty years ago and threw it out, because he couldn’t release it with a straight face. Lyrically it’s nothing short of cringeworthy, and its biggest achievement is that it made it on to the album in the first place. 

Although the band must have realised this and tried to redeem themselves with the last two tracks.

‘Brand New Numb’ runs the title track close as the album’s standout moment, mainly because it just feels natural. The radio friendly chorus isn’t shoehorned in, it fits the track perfectly. It’s a really well-rounded effort. While ‘Catharsis’ rounds things off in pretty solid fashion. It’s what you’d expect at this point, but it does what it sets out to do nicely. 

‘Disguise’ is a difficult album to try and appraise. If you’re a MIW fan, then the album will be your jam. Everything you want from the band is here, but there isn’t a great deal for a new listener to latch on to. And not to labour an already laboured point, but the cramming in of every musical influence the band has is as frustrating now as it was three albums ago. They can get away with it to a degree on tracks like ‘Thoughts And Prayers’ but the less said about ‘Broadcasting From…’ the better. 

Taken in isolation ‘Disguise’ isn’t a bad album, but you can’t escape the fact that we’ve heard this all before, and as a result it doesn’t feel all that original. At this stage in their careers the band should be aiming for more than this, and they’re certainly more than capable.

 

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. After Life

9. Broadcasting From Beyond The Grave: Death Inc

10. Brand New Numb

11. Catharsis

 

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