Review Summary: Despite what some say, this is obviously Norma Jean's most progressive record. Rather than retread old-water, which seems to be exactly what some people want, Norma Jean swarms full speed ahead - and they do so with bone-rattling roars.4 of 5 thought this review was well written
They say if you regularly consume your local honey, you're immunity to local allergies may improve, perhaps even drastically. If that's true, then some natives of Douglasville Georgia must feel like they can hardcore dance their way into a nearby hornet's nest with no aftereffect. That is of course assuming they have listened to Norma Jean's recently released "The Anti Mother" - an actual transcendent work of metalcore which manages to bring a newer sound to a band which some people believe have been going down with the hive with each new release following 2002's "Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child". True or not, "The Anti-Mother" packs a punch in more ways then your standard crunching riffs and Botch-esque play-pause vocals.
You see, since 2002, in probably every interview they've done, Norma Jean has made it clear that it is their desire to give consistently new music to their fans and that is exactly what they have done. You're first listen through "The Anti Mother" may surprise you with its offerings. Cory, the vocalist, actually sings - or at least attempts to. Let's face it, Cory was never going to win the "vocalist of the year" award, but should we think he wanted to? This type of singing is neither melodic nor harmonious, but it is calculated to match a vibe - a static, chaotic hardcore sound that is meant to get you dancing - not singing along.
The first track pulls off its purpose in that it fully embraces Norma Jean's roots with Cory's unrelenting roar, Chris Day and Scottie Henry's whisk chugs and the new drummer's (Chris Raines) consistent, albeit unsurprising, pummeling. Oh and the bass, performed by Jake Shultz? What do you expect me to say?
Norma Jean is first and foremost a band that actually pioneered the hardcore genre. With each release after "Bless The Martyr", people never got what they expected and due to the acclaim and love that "Martyr" garnered, this turned some people off. What the band has shown, in my opinion, is that they know how to stay true themselves - exploring new land while remaining the pioneers they always were. "The Anti Mother" doesn't just employ a new style of vocals, but it also uses entirely new mechanics. For instance, on "Birth Of The Anti Mother", the band used a chorus of girls to sing "We came here for blood! Did you? Yes or no?" This leads to Cory's repeating of the line in an incline of shouting mayhem - this is what you want. It's new, yet it fits perfectly well.
My favorite track "Birth Of The Anti-Mother" is probably the most dynamic on the record. It climbs from a slow introduction of light guitar-playing to Cory screaming his throat out of his neck. The real stickler here are the lyrics: "Just know, I mean to harm you. I want to see you choking and kicking in your own blood. We all have our own personal hells. I just hope yours burns brighter." This is an angry song all around, and anyone whose desire it is to simply rock out will thoroughly enjoy it.
Page Hamilton shows up on "...Opposite of Left And Wrong" in the form of upbeat, Southern-screamo vocals. The Southern yelling coupled with Norma Jean's already southern guitars definitely inject a dose of fun. Another collaboration appears in the song "Surrender Your Sons" with Chino Moreno of the Deftones and Cove Reber of Saosin. Reber's vocals are particularly notable in this song giving an erie, almost haunting, feel. "Surrender Your Sons" is a pause in the record - a breather, if you will. It readies you up for the rest of the record which I honestly do not want to spoil for you.
The hardcore and post-hardcore scenes are dying from suffocation. This is a result of the constant influx of new bands every 3 hours. Band after band sounds like the last untalented band you just wasted a disappointing five minutes listening to. Literal passion with a basis - a foundation of talent, both of which Norma Jean contain, are essential if we are all to continue paying attention to this scene instead of turning to some form of synthpop/hiphop/slipslop garbage.
"The Anti Mother" is not "Bless The Martyr", "Oh God, The Aftermath", or "Redeemer", nor is it meant to be. This is a new sound for a band that has shown us everything they've been through by way of their ridiculous ability to turn our bones to dust. Pick up "The Anti Mother". If one song isn't your taste, 5 others will be. Oh, and don't join the legion of naysayers who say this will never live up to Norma Jean's past efforts. Clearly these people expect the same and nothing new. Judging by the seemingly expected idea that Norma Jean hasn't done anything special since "Oh God", there didn't need to be another negative review.