Unless you’ve been following the band since 2005, you’d never guess MOTIONLESS IN WHITE hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. The group carries itself like a UK goth band with a twist of Marilyn Manson, and after gaining notoriety with the 2014 album “Reincarnate”, MIW landed its coveted signing with Roadrunner Records. The unit’s latest album, “Graveyard Shift”, should’ve been a lot more fun than it is. If you’re a fan, anything written in this review will likely piss you off more than anything Chris “Motionless” Cerulli tugs into the album as a mission of provocation.
Whether you dig this band or not, there’s no getting around the fact that Chris Cerulli takes any opportunity to expose his love of Marilyn Manson, though, to be fair, he possesses a wide dynamic to his vocal delivery. On the opening number, “Rats”, Cerulli whispers his summons for his shag-targeting muse to whisper her dirty secrets to him while mingling his higher-pitched wails and ralphs. At the root of the lurking riffs and whirling synths is Cerulli‘s Manson mirroring throughout the verses. The song pounds like rugged, primal sex, to be taken according to your wherewithal. “Queen for Queen” thereafter plays through a KORN-meets-NONPOINT scheme, only with more ornate keys and richer bass. Fans will drown in the textures “Queen for Queen” offers, even if the song structure is AOR-pedestrian.
The KORN nod is no doubt intentional since the man himself, Jonathan Davis, checks in for a tag on “Necessary Evil”, which couldn’t be a more palatable habitat for him to gel with Chris Cerulli. Frankly, the writing is so blatantly KORN its obviousness is unbearable unless you’re an indiscriminating fan of either band. The rip from Leslie Gore‘s “It’s My Party” only makes “Necessary Evil” a bigger disaster, nearly as banal and boring as “Voices” later in the album.
Turning up every thruster with the SLIPKNOT-structured “Soft”, the speed and rambunctiousness is all naturally antithesis to the track’s title. “You’re mine, motherfucker!” Chris Cerulli bellows in trite fashion as the proto chugs and breakdowns storm at a faster pace, with electronic swells elevating the song’s nihilism to full rage. It’s not a good rage, either. “Suck my fucking middle finger!” Cerulli orders, and it’s hardly erotic; it’s just short of rape and a sad telling of where contemporary sexual ethics are heading, even for those with submissive affinities.
Then you have “Not My Type: Dead as Fuck 2”, which will catch on with MIW‘s faithful. Here the band crams THE PRODIGY‘s electro dance shakes into a “Nightmare Before Christmas” sammy. Proto-goth wobbles and a Jack Skellington-loving gambol underscore the necrophilia metaphors slung behind the band’s cheerless sexual diss, which is again, indicative of where we are as a gloves-off, slam-driven society, and is accented by the pessimistic intro to “The Ladder”. Think of sex as power in social climbing and you’ll be in the proper sordid mindframe to absorb MIW‘s blazing-paced cynicism. Of course, Chris Cerulli sums up his band’s would-be generational prospectus on the trash anthem “Loud (Fuck It)”: “You gotta be loud, you gotta be rude, so the world can hear you, you gotta be crass, you gotta be cold, it’s everything we know.” Fabulous. Like, go ahead and unfriend me, dude. Fuck it, exactly.
Thus, the predominant theme to “Graveyard Shift” has less to do with the ghoulish goth shtick that gave MOTIONLESS IN WHITE a noticeable, if borrowed, identity and more to do with unattractive diatribes, largely based upon problematic wading through taboo. This is a snide and frankly lame proto metal reflection of time spent absorbing “Cruel Intentions” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” while sporting a hedonistic boner in front of its hopelessly obscene diktats. It would’ve been cleverer if MOTIONLESS IN WHITE had consulted “Heathers” instead to seek out the ultimate youth angst motivator. In this case, “Graveyard Shift” may as well have dropped the “c” word to complete its premeditated and annoying offensiveness.