Motionless In White – ‘Graveyard Shift’ (Roadrunner Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Friday, 05 May 2017 04:30

Motionless In White - Graveyard ShiftWhen Motionless In White’s third full-length ‘Reincarnate’ was released in 2014, it was well received by their targeted demographic.  However, many of those outside their fan-base were fairly critical of how the band were wearing their influences a little too blatantly.  Despite this, Motionless In White have continued to be one of Roadrunner Record’s most high profile acts in recent years, and so their upcoming release ‘Graveyard Shift’ is one of 2017’s most hotly anticipated metal albums.  It’s certainly not going to win over any of their detractors, but this new album raises some questions as to their fans’ awareness of the music of Motionless In White’s influencers.  The long and short of it is that from start to finish, ‘Graveyard Shift’ is an unremittingly derivative piece of work, with a severe lack of distinctive identity.


While not constructed as such, the songs on ‘Graveyard Shift’ can be divided into two distinct categories, the first being by-the-numbers modern metalcore.  The pre-released track ‘570’ falls into this category, with the rather characterless chugging decorated by traditional metal lead lines that sound like they were lifted from Parkway Drive’s ‘Ire.’   ‘The Ladder’ could easily be mistaken for early As I Lay Dying material, while ‘Eternally Yours’ boasts a massive melodic chorus buoyed by an effective use of synths, but still falls into the beauty/beast template that has stagnated the genre for the last decade.  Even with the slight gothic flourishes that the band adds to these songs, they’re still fairly indistinguishable from the slew of Warped Tour-ready acts currently playing this style of metalcore.


The second category is the more egregious of the two.  These are the songs where Motionless In White shamelessly ape the artists they grew up listening to, which amount to little more than poor imitations of the original artists’ work.  ‘Rats’ and ‘LOUD (Fuck It)’ are Marilyn Manson-lite both in instrumentation and Chris Motionless’ vocal delivery -unfortunately it’s more ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ Manson than ‘Antichrist Superstar.’  They may replicate the nü metal/industrial vibe somewhat convincingly, but ‘LOUD’ in particular comes across as a rather contrived attempt to deliver a song built for festival stages.  ‘Not My Type (Dead As Fuck 2)’ initially shares the same Manson DNA with added Combichrist-esque techno parts.  As the song progresses, the accompanying female vocals engage in a back and forth with Chris’s, however, they are utilized in such a way that sounds like an attempt to emulate Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’, which featured a strikingly similar vocal dynamic.



The most obvious culprit of this musical mimicking is the song ‘Necessary Evil’ which features Jonathan Davis on guest vocals.  This song creates the bizarre situation having the KoRn front man perform on a track that sounds like it was lifted from one of their latter day albums.  Save for the inclusion of pinch harmonics in the main riff, the instrumentation here is blatantly KoRn.  It’s even more jarring that Chris adopts Davis’ vocal style, to the extent that it’s remarkably difficult to pinpoint exactly where his guest vocals begin.  The collaboration therefore feels a little pointless, little more than a cover band being graced by the presence of the genuine act.  And that’s before we even get to the cringe-worthy refrain of, “It’s my party and I’ll die when I want to.”


Speaking of lyrics, ‘Graveyard Shift’ is an album littered with misguided attempts to deliver memorable, but edgy one-liners.  And they’re certainly memorable.  Unfortunately, it seems that in trying to evoke the shock rock of Manson and Murderdolls, Chris misses the mark by some distance, resulting in quips that would make Blood On The Dance Floor proud.  “If she’s got a pulse then she’s not my type” and the Gotye-riffing “Now you’re just somebody that I used to fuck” are just a couple of the lyrical bombs that pepper ‘Graveyard Shift.’  While they are cheesy, but harmless inclusions, at times the lyrical content veers into the creepily misogynistic which only adds to the already questionable nature of the material.


The brighter spots come with the undeniably catchy ‘Queen for Queen’ and ‘Voices.’  The former, despite sounding almost identical to Breaking Benjamin with added synths, is an anthemic blast of alternative rock, while ‘Voices’ benefits from an earworm of a vocal hook from Chris.  Otherwise, it’s slim pickings.


It’s easy to see what attracts Motionless In White’s core audience to the band.  The gothic imagery aside, they dabble in easily digestible metalcore, which is aggressive enough to seem rebellious to a younger demographic, whilst featuring massive pop-tinged choruses that add an overall accessibility to the music. 


Considering that they cater to a younger market, this is likely why the band isn’t called out more for just how audacious they are in emulating their idols.  Sure, these songs are decent enough versions of pre-existing iconic musical templates, but there’s a severe lack of artistry going on.  The comparisons to other artists become so distracting that it’s difficult to view these songs in their own standing.  In the end, ‘Graveyard Shift’ may sound requisitely polished but is burdened by an overwhelmingly pervasive sense of redundancy.


‘Graveyard Shift’ is released today (Friday 5 May).


Motionless In White play the main stage at Download on Friday 9 June.


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