Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Motionless in White: The Band That Is Anything But

Via Twitter 4/23/2014
Chris "Motionless" Cerulli surprised me today by logging in and posting on his Twitter feed, a social media platform the lead vocals and front-man of Motionless In White admitted last week that he rarely partakes of. When I saw it, I might have squeed a little (and really, if you don't like the squeeing, why are you here?), especially when I saw the image featured to your immediate left. I could hardly contain my joy, and I might have screwed up an entire week's worth of accuracy at work trying to comprehend it. 

MIW has been hinting at a new album for a couple of months, and the band's activity hasn't stopped since 2012. MIW's latest undertakings include a cover of Rammstein's "Du Hast", the Van's Warped Tour (coming to a San Antonio near me June 14) and now this little gem. What comes as a complete surprise to me is the removal of drummer Brandon Richter (Wikipedia, and thanks to whoever updated that--someone please correct me with a Tweet message if this information is wrong), leaving us with Chris, Ricky, Ryan, Josh and Ghost (Devin). All-star line-up, in my honest opinion, but I'm gonna miss that sexy drummer--one-sixth of a now five-part sexy metalcore band. MIW: now that's a boy band! But seriously, aside from the loss to women-kind, this band goes through members like some people go through shoes. Bass, rhythm guitar, and drums. These three aspects have undergone the most transition since the band's inception in 2005. Drums has undergone the least upheaval, but Chris Cerulli is the only original band member. 

The band's Wiki page states Richter left on good terms, which is great. If MIW is teaching me anything, it's that change is good. The band is very good at keeping it's drama on the down-low, focusing instead on giving the people want they want: in-your-face, no-apologies-offered, no-quarter-given heavy metal. 

Artwork for Infamous featuring former drummer, Brandon "Rage" Richter, second from the left.

Each and every one of these changes, I feel, has been done for the better. Infamous diverged greatly from Creatures, the band's official debut album. Infamous steps away from what I've been calling "metal from the pulpit", though probably not as far as Motionless would like, hence the latest heavy metal bomb-drop, the release date for Reincarnate, set for September 16, 2014. 

Unlike other metalcore bands, MIW took a stance. On everything. Chris Motionless has been quoted saying, "Whatever you want, we support it." Impressive, bold, even a little naive, and that little teenager inside me bought it. I ate the band's previous works with enthusiasm, embracing their Total Love/Anger theory. Still get "Divine Infection" stuck in my head during moments when I feel a little militant without a clear course of action.

According to Chris Motionless' own Tumblr feed today (yeah I got Tumblr...seriously) the band has decided they will no longer "preach". I respond with this: good on ya! I must admit, it hurts a little. That little girl inside me went, "Aww, naw." An artist takes a stance by default. Metalcore is already a huge slap in the face to society as a whole, as is punk rock and metal in general. The counter-culture itself is metaphysical, drawing attention to itself down to the sheer volume of the music. Can you really ignore something that could cause me not to hear my children in my old age? No, you can't, and that's the point. Like literary author Flannery O'Connor (and I believe Mr. Motionless would relish the comparison) MIW was going to scare you to righteousness, and not righteousness of the soul through God, but through a serious re-evaluation of American ideals and ideology (A-M-E-R-I-C-A baby!). How close the band came to getting's its wish has yet to be seen, and that unattainable, seemingly impossible philosophy might have kept the band in a pseudo Green Day state, but Motionless In White has other plans. According to his Tumblr blog, Chris Motionless also expressed plans to remove so much anti-Christianity symbolism (upside-down crosses, etc.) from their merchandise, which has prompted an angry response from the group's younger, rebellious audience, to which Cerulli promptly raised his middle finger, stating "I'm an adult." Twenty-eight-year-old me grinned. Again, change is a good thing. For those of us who maintain this isn't a phase, we have Chris Motionless. This is a band you can grow up with. This is a band in motion. 

What makes MIW incredible is the band's ability to walk that thin line between true anger and artistic integrity. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: a band's decision to redefine itself has absolutely no bearing on how we enjoy the music, past, present, and future. Our individual experience through their art is not diminished and it remains unchanged. Does MIW's decision to end a crusade make "Immaculate Misconception" or "Devil's Night" any less moving? No. Is the band's integrity called into question? Hardly. Can you blame a band for wanting to pursue art for the sake of art? Not at all. Actually, that isn't even the crux of it. In his Tumblr blog, Chris Motionless seems to express resentment for the people who claim his music has "saved them". He's well within his right to be resentful. Many artists, including authors and actors, take a stance, creating a rhetoric, a didactic message, from their craft. Cat Valente comes quickly to mind. John Scalzi has no trouble voicing his opinions like a buffet for all to sample from. Are they wrong? No, but a person who makes their living selling books should be very careful what they take a stand on. I try to keep literacy in the forefront of why I write. At one point, I thought I was going to write a novel about raising awareness of human trafficking. I got so far away from that, I abandoned the idea entirely. Taking a stance makes you responsible, and you can very easily bite off more than you can chew. We embrace a cause at our own detriment. We as artists bear the burden of our fans (I don't have fans, so I assume these things). Every day, popular artists like Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi and even Chris Motionless are bombarded with statements like, "Your artwork saved me," or, "Your music pulled me back from the edge," or, "Help save my friend's life by following her on Twitter," (poor John Scalzi). Why do that? Why put that evil on an artist? Why burden another person with that responsibility? It's an occurrence Chris Motionless hopes to put an end to, and I can't say that I disagree. 

Reincarnate, according to the Wiki page I seem to frequent, is purported to be as aggressive as Creatures, something Infamous seems to have lacked (I beg to differ). It will have a more consistent style, which I will appreciate. I must say I'm a little nervous. I really liked Infamous, and Creatures, but for entirely different reasons, and what worries me most is that a band in the midst of so much transition has decided to almost regress. I could be wrong, and Elder Gods, I hope I am, but if what I loved about Infamous is going bye-bye, then that will have to be a bitter pill I must swallow. I appreciated Creatures' aggression and raw power. I also appreciated Infamous' coupe-like over-throw of pop culture, the utter snook-cocking (all the wrongness of that statement) at America the Beautiful and organized religion, and the ass-backwardness of sex as a weapon and selling-point, all the viewpoints I shared. Perhaps they're not being abandoned, but a dramatic shift is in the works, and I, like everyone else, will have to wait until September 16 to truly discover what form Motionless In White will take with its "reincarnation". 

One thing remains absolutely certain: the concert at Van's Warped Tour is going to blow my mind. It saddens me that I have missed MIW twice in my hometown of San Antonio already. I won't make that mistake again. Until June then, gentlemen of MIW, I wish you only the best, whatever you decide to do.

Update: April 25, 2014

Listened to Infamous again while working out. It's like I was hearing Richter's work for the first time. I think I'm gonna miss that man. I mean, they didn't fire him. They didn't bury him...I'm not crying! It's just--well I thought--stop looking at me!

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