Review Summary: The band does try branching out every now and again, but the downside is the moments are too few and far between.
Norma Jean are back and following the trend just as good as anyone has ever done. Let’s get this out of the way now, this is not a hark back to their roots; in fact NJ have traveled so far from home it’s doubtful they even remember where they live. That of course isn’t to say that they haven’t evolved along the way, nor is it to say that they’ve stopped ripping off bands because they haven’t. Except it’s ok as long as they continue ripping off good ones. This time around they show the world how in love they are with The Dillinger Escape Plan
not to mention how over Botch
they are and thank God cause Botch
10 years ago.
Few things have changed in camp Norma Jean, first and foremost the breakdowns, the staple of metalcore brigade, are presented on this disc better than 90% of the genre which is something you can’t say often. They keep the momentum at top notch throughout the entire offering and distinguish themselves from each other extremely well. Album opener and first single Leaderless and Self Enlisted
ends on a crass note plagued by hammered dissonant chords and the most unfriendly of vocals thanks to Cory Putnam. From then on you can basically tell which tracks were made to rip off the ears and which were meant to soothe by reading the titles. Bastadizer
for anyone who hasn’t caught on yet is a vengeful tune that contains a bombastic intro, and is centered around a hook + a riff that wouldn’t feel out of place on an Every Time I Die
record. And then… there was Blood Burner
an attempt to create a devastating piece of carnage and easily the heaviest Norma Jean song to date. Backed by an exhausting guitar lead and sporadic drum fills the song feels like a bottomless pit of breakdowns and build ups. Sometimes the song is interesting like at the 0:47mark and sometimes the song grows mindless moments like the 2 hour (or something) breakdown that closes the song.
Of course the band does try branching out every now and again, but the downside is the moments are too few and far between. Track two The Anthem of the Angry Brides
is plagiarism all the way through on DEP’s account but that’s a topic for a different day. With a vibrant bass intro and estranged guitar riff centered on the catchiest dissonance I’ve heard in a while its a perfect pitch for the home run the bros hit once the breakdown makes it way - a bitter line of "You're not getting under my skin!". The only downside is how weak it makes the rest of the album look barring a few other instances. Falling From the Sky: Day Seven
is the most radio friendly I’ve ever heard the band attempt, and it’s obvious they made this decision after hearing Hollow Crown
– just listen to that intro. A six minute offering of a sullen bass creep, and an unfortunate typical build up for its well executed climatic chorus make this the best NJ ballad to date.
There are also two pointless moments on the album; both interludes which are the only resemblance to their early days with their pretentious titles, making their presence known at the most awkward moments. Septentrional
which I'm not even going to try and pronounce kills the flow after one of the albums best songs and then lags into the audacious Blood Burner
. The second Occidental
makes putrid attempts to try and distance itself from the former, but hilariously fails with Cory speaking in the most arrogant of ways coupled with unnecessary clapping and stomping which completely devastates the mood of the album.
Aside from these small complaints this is Norma Jean’s most consistent album to date. They have finally figured out how to mold ridiculously catchy anthems like A Media Friendly Turn For the Worse
around their sporadic music and it pays out the dividends each time. When Cory slips in the line “Blood is thicker than water, but which one did you drink?” shivers crawl up my spine escorted along with their temper tantrum to end the track. The People That Surround You On A Regular Basis
has a sexy riff that off sets Cory’s interspersed vocals and it creates a beautiful marriage of melody and heaviness. Deathbed Atheist
feels like an stab at A Small Spark vs. A Great Forest
with its tepid intro bringing the calm before the storm, but one can’t help that they’ve retread these waters all the way until the bridge where they swim a new creek. Instead of blatant cries of “FIGHT FAIR” the band tries blissful swoons of “This is my nightmare”. This is where veteran’s listeners of Norma Jean can hear the change in sound; becoming softer in areas they’d usually tear down and killing their experimental fortunes which they’ve traded out for predictable heaviness. One wonders if they’re done trying to take the helms of the genre and just stick to what they know how to do, simply rawk.
Tracks Recommended: The Anthem of the Angry Brides
, A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse
, The People That Surround You On A Regular Basis
. - wtf is up with these song titles?