Norma Jean
Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child


3.5
great

Review

by Luke M. Jenkins (Confessed) USER (58 Reviews)
June 16th, 2007 | 68 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

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...

Norma Jean 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.

Recommended Tracks
Face: Face
Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste
I Used To Hate Cellphones But Now I Hate Car Accidents
Organized Beyond Recognition



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user ratings (895)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
June 16th 2007


4527 Comments


Horrible band. But good review.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 16th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"...but the sheer brutality of the vocals is awesome. Taking a gander at the lyrics is also very interesting."

besides that part of the review, it's well written. This album wore off so quickly. This Message Edited On 06.16.07

Otisbum
June 16th 2007


1912 Comments


I liked 'Memphis...' for awhile, but I'm not a big fan of Norma Jean.

Nice review though.

rustysurf84
June 16th 2007


327 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, don't like the band much anymore. Organized is still a good listen occasionally.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 16th 2007


2125 Comments


I know most people think they suck, but I just really like this band. This and O God are great records. When I saw them (just last week), "like bringing a knife to a gun fight" part of "Creating Something Out of Nothing" kicked total ass. They also did Memphis and Face:Face, which are both great songs, especially Memphis.

LifeInABox
June 16th 2007


3709 Comments


When I saw them the Encored with Face:Face and since The Chariot was playing on the same tour, Josh came and sang Memphis with Cory. I lost it when they played Creating and A Grand Scene, though. I totally lost it.

Intransit
June 16th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

YA DUDE CANNIBAL CORPSE RAWKS TOO

Cravinov13
June 16th 2007


3854 Comments


I hate this band.

lunchforthesky
June 16th 2007


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Massive Botch rip off.

Good review.

LifeInABox
June 16th 2007


3709 Comments


YA DUDE CANNIBAL CORPSE RAWKS TOO
LoLZ So DoEz NoFX DoOd!!1

DaveBum69
June 16th 2007


699 Comments


I enjoy these guys quite a bit but there newer stuff is better, I think Cory is alot better than Josh

DeadToPain
June 16th 2007


694 Comments


you know, as many reviews as i've read for this album, everyone talks about ripping off botch, but i see another influence even more clearly. COALESCE! i think this sounds more like 0:12 second revolution in just listening than we are the romans. just my two cents.

ToWhatEnd
June 16th 2007


3172 Comments


Good review. Fan of the band, mainly their later two records but this one isn't so bad. They are awesome live, I saw them supporting Thrice and they put on a great show.

cbmartinez
June 17th 2007


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The summary of the review sums up my thoughts perfectly. It's definitely not new or creative, but it's definitely catchy, at times heavy, and overall just a fun listen. That being said, the album has run its course with me and I find that I'd rather listen to the Chariot's debut LP now. But a couple songs are still very fun, mainly "The Human Face, Divine," "I Used To Hate Cell Phones...," and definitely the first four tracks. But besides the fact that the song fits its title very well (which I always dig), "Pretty Soon..." is pretty much obnoxiously long and boring, despite the fact, like I said, I like how it's a giant buildup and the song title reflects that.

All that being said, I think this album can be a fun listen but is nothing to go ape shit over. Unfortunately, this album has been turned into some kind of masterpiece by scene kids which I don't dig. And as if that wasn't bad enough, hundreds of bands have come to imitate this album which is really intolerable. Listening to all those sound-a-likes is simply intolerable also. This album thrown in with other essential metalcore albums is fine, but seriously all these bands like Bring Me The Horizon are simply terrible. Basically, this album is good, but is not meant to be imitated.

I can definitely see the Coalesce comparison for this album, O' God... is usually the album that's compared to Botch. O' God is definitely a better album though, musically and just all around.

That's what I have to say. Great review man.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2007


16089 Comments


Someone needs to send me O' God if its that much better than this.

cbmartinez
June 17th 2007


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can send it to you tomorrow. Do you like We Are The Romans?

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2007


16089 Comments


Yeah thats a great album. Ive heard lots O'God - We Are the Romans comparisons so I really wanna check O'God out. I wont be around till monday though =/.

cbmartinez
June 17th 2007


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that's straight, I'll have it for you monday

Confessed2005
June 17th 2007


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks cbmartinez, interesting to read your opinions too!

BMTH are a disgrace to the UK metal/hardcore scene. Even though Norma Jean borrow a lot of influences (and now I do see the Coalesce influence) they melded them together well and the result was quite enjoyable.

The scene kid trend that follows any kind of band like this is fucking horrid. Trends that rise and fall are so damn annoying.

rattlehead42147
June 18th 2007


1345 Comments


i hate this band so much, nice review though



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