Review Summary: An unrelenting debut from the Christian metalcore act. It may be nothing new or anything innovative; but it's brutality and intelligence is noteworthy and the sound that was developed on their follow-up is raw and heavy.
Christianity is a religion I am not all too fond of. Personally, I find most over-zealous Christians to be incredibly self-righteous and misdirected. Of course, it is just an opinion but I think that it is easier to live your life without beliefs in a deity. But before I get myself into a hot water, I would like to reference you to a band that are definitely Christian. They are also definitely metalcore and everywhere you go people will inevitably slate them for a number of different reasons...
are quite an interesting band. There is a huge division between people who utterly detest them and those who find them to be a quality metalcore act. Hell, just because they ARE unashamedly metalcore people will dismiss them. Their debut album Bless the Martyr, And Kiss the Child
caused quite a stir when it was released. Musically, it is completely unrelenting and incredibly brutal - vocalist Josh Scogin (now in The Chariot) provides listener with a barrage of angry screams and yells. Instrument wise, the album seems to just be a cacophonous mess of dissonance and destruction. The two guitars definitely have a lot of energy - the drumming is also quite hefty but tasteful and never overpowering.
So why don't people like the band much? Perhaps it is because of their Christian beliefs (lol) bit more likely is the fact the band love their breakdowns. A bit too much on occasions it seems. Tracks such as Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste
are just a mass of speaker-crushing breakdown riffs, coupled with the use of those high ringing dissonant chords. The Botch influence is very clear; heavy power chords and "tri-tone" sections, incorporated with a lot of crazy time signatures. But for the most part, songs are relatively well structured and don't seem too tedious.
One of the big highlights of the album would definitely be the vocals. A lot of people detest them with a vengeance (Scogin varies his screams very little in fairness) but the sheer brutality of the vocals is awesome. Taking a gander at the lyrics is also very interesting.
"Now you're doing the waltz with your murderer."
- Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste
"Like bringing a knife to a gunfight."
- Creating Something Out of Nothing, Only To Destroy It
Whilst the band wear their Christian beliefs on their sleeves, the lyrics, coupled with the apocalyptic destructive force of the music make for a marvelous metalcore experience. Lyrically, the band are very strong. Every track showcases some really cool lyrics - Scogin simply makes them that much more effective with his vocal style. Think of a raw shout and a throaty scream - their current vocalist is quite different IMO but Scogin is in a league of his own here.
The album centers around a few key tracks. A mammoth track in the form of Pretty Soon, I Don't Know What, But Something Is Going to Happen
takes up 16 minutes. The track itself isn't monotonous in my opinion even if the buildup is huge and the resulting catharsis is nothing particularly outstanding. But the guitar work coupled with the drumming is very cool during the build up. The first half of the album is also very strong - the album begins to get a tad repetitive (it's running time is only a couple of minutes under an hour) but album closer Organized Beyond Recognition
is nothing short of metalcore perfection.
Norma Jean will never be a hugely innovative act (saying that, their sophomore effort O' God the Aftermath
was nothing short of incredible in comparison to this) but this debut shows that they had potential to become one of the most brutal acts on the metalcore scene. For those who are fans of Converge and Botch, I would recommend this band to you - whilst not as technical as their follow-up, the album holds its own.
Christian metalcore has actually never sounded so demonic.
Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste
I Used To Hate Cellphones But Now I Hate Car Accidents
Organized Beyond Recognition