Review Summary: Stop complaining, listen and you'll find a great album, a perfect mixture of the 3 previous efforts with Cory. And if you hate the album, at-least enjoy the artwork.
Yes, i know there are already many reviews on this album. But all of them complain too much, so shutup and read:
Norma Jean in every past effort of an album have changed direction, which has been a problem for those who strictly stick to one genre (which stupidly is such a prominent mindset nowadays), but been a blessing to those like myself who, whilst not completely enjoying every step, can appreciate the creativity. Dallas Green of Alexisonfire was on the money when he said "Our fans expect too much if they expect us not to change".
So let's skip over 'Bless The Martyr', it's a different line-up, and for people wanting another album like this, it's not going to happen, be content. Onto 'Oh God', this created epic (hate to use the so cliche word) moments, 'Redeemer' some of my favorite Metal-core melodies to date, and 'Anti-Mother' some things i would have never expected a traditional Metal-core band to try and even better, pull off. The problem with this though, was that 'Oh God' had no nice melodies, and no experimentation. 'Redeemer' had no insane breakdowns, and still slightly lacked experimentation. And 'The Anti-Mother', maybe too many experiments to compile into 10 tracks? Yes.
Now we get to Meridional. In my opinion the greatest NJ album to date. Why? The perfect combination of each previous album placed into each section. We see this right from the start with "Leaderless and Self Enlisted" The intro has some nice 'Redeemer' vibes, with great riffs and (while i'm not going to pretend Cory is one of the greatest singers in the genre like some ignorantly do) some well placed melodies with 'we know you've heard it before', backed up with his signature scream/yell which really is one of a kind. As we move further into the song 'The Anti-Mother's' progressive/experimental ideas can still be heard in guitar lines and bass effects. We reach the end and tell me that breakdown isn't 'Oh, God'-ish.
While going through the album this is still proved, that all previous sounds except 'Bless the Martyr' are very prevalent. Perhaps 'Redeemer' the most and then still 'Oh, God' and 'Anti-Mother'.
The worst thing i can seem to find on the album would be 3 seemingly pointless instrumental/instrumentless interludes, which don't serve much a purpose. The 15 minute gap to lead only to a few atmospheric noises on the bonus track is a huge letdown.
So where other albums have lacked in certain areas, this fills with not new, but re-created and re-combined elements of other releases.
The key tracks would be 'Falling From The Sky: Day Seven" a six minute build up with a great opening up and explosive eruption. 'The People That Surround You On A Regular Basis' with some ideas NJ haven't explored to this depth before. And the 1st Single 'Deathbead Atheist' once again combining elements of all previous albums.
Lastly, the artwork, simply amazing, and compliments the sound of the album most definitely.