Metalcore band Motionless In White released their fifth album, "Disguise," earlier this summer. This is their first release since 2017’s “Graveyard Shift.” This album contains some of the most personal material I've heard from Motionless In White. While MIW’s previous albums are collections of self-contained songs, the songs on this album embrace themes of nonconformity, misunderstanding, and emotional turmoil.
The album commences with the title track and lead single, “Disguise,” which sets the stylistic tone of the album. MIW effortlessly switch between screaming and the melodic hook, which has remained stuck in my head all week. The first four tracks are some of this album's best songs. "Headache" particularly spoke to me. MIW navigate through self-doubt with a chaotic heaviness, which sounds like the feeling of talking yourself out of an anxiety attack (in a good way). “Disguise” and “<c0de>” tackle the theme of conformity and the effect it has on the psyche. “Thoughts & Prayers” discusses the role religion plays in how our society deals with tragedy. While it may not be unique, the fifth track “Legacy” is undeniably catchy and energetic. Even though I find the world to be oversaturated with power anthems, this one feels sincere and has more than enough energy to provide actual encouragement to the listener.
“Undead Ahead 2: Tale Of The Midnight Ride” is the sequel to a song called “Undead Ahead” from Motionless In White's album “Creatures.” A truly unique feature of MIW’s discography is their horror-themed songs with self-contained stories that span across their discography. The first half of the album is almost flawless, it isn't until you get to the seventh song where things start to taper off. The seventh song, “Holding On To Smoke" tries hard to be emotional, but instead, it feels incomplete and sterile. The sparse instrumentation during the verses completely clashes with both the warped vocals and the guitar riff in the chorus and bridge. The song lacks a central theme, causing the lyrics to be contradictory and confusing. All the songs manage to portray vague and unexplained suffering, which I find extremely uninteresting. “Another Life” is an extremely sincere break-up song, the only love song on the album. Its emotional impact is only enhanced by the slower tempo and entirely clean vocal performance. “Broadcasting From Beyond The Grave: Death Inc” is a lively combination of a horror song and an empowerment anthem, which is an absolute delight. “Brand New Numb” would be the perfect closing track, it is a defiant expression of individuality and contempt for unrealistic standards. Unfortunately, the closing track is “Catharsis” which suffers from the same lack of cohesion and themes as “Holding On To Smoke.”
Despite the two songs that didn’t do much for me (“Catharsis” and “Holding On To Smoke”) I adore the nine other songs on this project. It tackles the difficulties of mental health without being overly sad or preachy. The songs speak from a personal perspective that does not claim to have the answers but instead lets the listener know that their struggles are valid. Motionless In White’s sound has evolved into an elevated and unique version of its former self that I am excited to hear more of. The vocals have improved exponentially over the years. Stylistically, this album combines their classic sound with the Nu-Metal they explored in “Graveyard Shift.” While their influences are very audible, none of the songs on this album sound like imitations of other artists. The instrumentals are dynamic, combining heavy metalcore chugging with industrial and Nu-Metal beats and synths. Most of the songs on “Disguise” will find a permanent home in my playlists.