Pennsylvania’s Motionless In White have been making waves in the metalcore scene for seven years now, since the 2010 release of their debut LP, Creatures. That album showcased a band that came fully formed, but very much of its time; “Abigail,” “Puppets” and “We Only Come Out At Night,” are some of the best examples of late stage metalcore available, but listening back they do sound sorely dated by their monolithic breakdowns and Hot Topic t-shirt lyrics.
Since then, they’ve released two records: Infamous and Reincarnate, each seemingly leading towards this latest album: Graveyard Shift. The band have gradually leaned further on goth and electronic music and the first track on Graveyard Shift, Rats, represents something of a denouement of these influences.
The opener sounds like a Marilyn Manson track after a line of coke, with its shamelessly cheesy pre-chorus synth line and singalong hook complimented perfectly by Chris Motionless’ aggressive screams that feel, at points, like they’re built for a band heavier than Motionless.
There are still some lyrics that draw a cringing wince (“Open your mouth before I fuck it” will never not be disgusting) but they’re easy enough to look past when the tracks can come as big as they do on this album.
The big tracks aren’t just big; they’re layered. The band can swap in an instant from their traditional metalcore sound to a more finessed and detailed approach; whether that be the Nine Inch Nails-style electronics sprinkling the background of tracks or full on industrial metal production that underpins certain songs.
Jonathan Davies features on track three, “Necessary Evil,” a song that contains an interpolation of Drake’s smash hit “Take Care,” which might have made for a successful metal song if it came out five years ago. As it is, it comes off as out of touch and ridiculous, pandering to an audience that Motionless hardly need to connect with. This trend is continued on track seven, “The Ladder,” where Chris calls to mind Adele, screaming out “now you’re just somebody that I used to fuck,” and once again it only serves to date a perfectly respectable metalcore song.
The album tails off quite abruptly in its second half. “Voices” is a clear swing and miss at the radio-metal market, with the 4:4 guitar work and sing-along chorus calling to mind much better tracks like Bring Me The Horizon’s “Happy Song.” Latest single “LOUD” is another play for this market with a call and response chorus aimed squarely at big venues.
Whilst the electronics raise the production standards of the album across the board, much of the guitar work from Ricky “Horror” Olson and Ryan Sitkowski is actively boring; some of the downtuned breakdowns might be note for note the same as those featured on “Creatures” – it’s simply a tired trend that lacks the bite it once delivered.
Graveyard Shift certainly features a level of artistry unachieved by Motionless prior to this release, whilst containing some of the biggest choruses the band have put to record in their career so far. Sadly, a frustrating mix of sometimes spotty songwriting with poor lyricism and boring guitar work drag the album down. Ultimately, Graveyard Shift is less than the sum of its parts.