When Scranton heavy-hitters Motionless in White released the singles “Disguise” and “Brand New Numb” I knew this was going to be an album of dichotomy. It did not disappoint. There are songs that relate back to the first album, “Undead Ahead 2” and other songs relating to living with mental illness and being judged like “<c0de>.”
Overall, Disguise is some of Chris Motionless’ best work vocally. The band composed of Chris Motionless, Ryan Sitokowski, Ricky Horror, Vinny Mauro and newly added bassist, Justin Morrow all sound incredible as the instrumentals help propel this record into outer space.
The album opens with the title track, “Disguise.” This song jumps right into the themes of hiding your emotions and putting on a face for the rest of society. It is almost a journey of hiding yourself and your emotional state from the world then realizing it is okay to not be totally together and deciding to show your authentic self, emotions and all.
“Sick of digging for answers / While you bury the truth, fuck your method to my sadness, I will bury you.”
This line is surrounded by Chris Motionless almost whispering the lines and then progressively working up to screaming. The anger of who this song is directed at is very palpable in that moment, as the instruments progressively build as well. It is a very strong opener for a heavy record that will probably be added to a setlist very soon among other anthemic songs such as “Voices” from the last record.
The next track, “Headache” is about the back and forth of emotions and fighting to stay above water some days. It’s meant as an internal monologue to the voices in your head that say you’re not enough and should be angry. “Some days I feel the worst in me is the best you’ll ever know.” This song is highly relatable for people who also struggle with mental illness and depression. Chris Motionless is saying he feels that he may never get out of the rut and it is a very real sentiment.
The third track on the record, “<c0de>” wastes no time running full speed ahead as the verses sound very Hybrid Theory/ Linkin Park-esque. The song finds Motionless in White as a whole running at 100 miles an hour. I love this song a lot because it really breaks down the human condition, and discusses how you don’t have to feel alone in your emotions because everyone goes through them. Although this isn’t the first time a band has written songs about depression and the intensely complicated psyche, this song feels fresh and definitely different from others. The lyrics of “between the gray, we medicate” from the second verse display the way that we numb ourselves through the pain. The last line of the song really enforces that we’re all human and deal with intense emotions, but with a twang of hope that things always get better when they’re rough. “Cause in the company of hope, we don’t have to feel alone.”
“Thoughts and Prayers” follows, which is a heavy track and sounds like the older MIW that fans have grown to know, with snarling guitars and equally pissed vocals. This track is a tear-down of the Catholic church and scandals that have been going on for decades. “Don’t pray for me when you’re the one enslaved / No miracles just fantasy.” This is definitely a song to blast loud because you can feel the aggression and rage coursing throughout the song.
The fifth song is “Legacy” is one of my favorite tracks on the record. It has a more pop sensibility and is very catchy, especially the cadence of the chorus. The perspective of the song could be understood as being in your early adult life thinking about the choices you make and how they will ultimately affect the way people look back on your life when you’re dead. This record is very centered on emotions and death. It’s a sort of theme that laces the tracks together.
If you were looking for the quintessential headbanger jam and was not satisfied with the aggression in “Thoughts and Prayers”, then look no further than the next track, “Undead Ahead 2: The Midnight Ride.” This song is a call back to Motionless in White’s first record, Creatures. This is also a very well written track because it is a story of the headless horseman and his midnight ride told as a continuation of “Undead Ahead.” It’s a fun story and definitely a track I hope will be on a setlist in the near future.
A heavy track both lyrically and musically is “Holding On To Smoke”. It is about holding on to the shreds of reality and relapsing back into a substance. You can hear the pain and anguish in this song. The most powerful line to me is “Frozen, I stand alone / Deafened in silence the voice remains.” It’s about the struggle inside your own head and how that voice of critique from inside is always the loudest.
Everyone can find a song to relate to and really absorb the lyrics and the melodies. This definitely is Motionless in White’s most mature record lyrically and it shows on every song. In the next song, “Another Life” you can almost equate it as the opposite of “Eternally Yours” from the last record, Graveyard Shift. There are a lot of lines that sort of call back to it such as “For the fiction of love is the truth of our lies / We were playing for keeps but we both knew the cost.” This song is the ballad of the record and it is a pretty song musically, but very dark lyrically.
The next track on the record is titled, “Broadcasting from Beyond the Grave: Death Incorporated.” After the introduction from the radio broadcast, the band immediately hits you with an in-your-face riff and a chant. This song is told as a horror story with the song ending with “For more haunting tales of terror and mystery / This is Broadcasting from Beyond the Grave.” Throughout the song there are references to things such as Wizard of Oz and Van Gogh such as, “Cut you up like a Van Gogh,” referencing him cutting his own ear off. This is a fun song on the record for those looking for another story unrelated to the overarching theme. The pseudo-EDM beat adds another element of strange to it.
The penultimate track, “Brand New Numb” was one of the early singles when the band announced the record. This is another fun banger of a song that has a very repetitive chorus that is easy to catch onto, and will definitely be another song to probably catch on a setlist in the future. This is one of those songs that is easy to scream along to when it comes on. My favorite lyrics in this song are, “All of my flaws, I’ll wear them with honor / A purple heartbreak for all we’ve suffered.” It’s a reference/play on the idea of the Purple Heart that soldiers receive for traumatic experiences. There are plenty of references to the overall theme of heartbreak, mental health, and emotions on this album that make every song a seamless transition despite the differences in influence on each one.
The last song on this record is entitled “Catharsis” which given the themes of emotional trauma and mental health, is a very fitting title because artists have said that writing is cathartic as a way to get their thoughts out. Your attention is immediately drawn to the slow drumming and the almost croon of Chris Motionless’ voice. This song is from the perspective of someone in a crowd at a concert listening to music, and the perspective of the artist. The lyrics in the first verse, “The rhythm of rebellion from the rattle in your bones” seems to be about losing yourself at a concert in the music and letting it rattle you to the bone. The perspective is switched in verse two with, “I sing for absolution / for the cleansing of my soul”, which seems to be about how writing music is a way of therapy for musicians.
This record covers a lot and is very diverse. This record is definitely on my list for album of the year and I cannot wait to see the band perform these songs live.
Motionless in White – Disguise tracklisting
Thoughts & Prayers
Undead Ahead 2: The Tale Of The Midnight Ride
Holding Onto Smoke
Broadcasting From Beyond The Grave: Death Inc
Brand New Numb
Find the record out now on all streaming platforms and anywhere music is sold.