Review Summary: Norma Jean releases their best album yet and keeps the Normachine a chuggin'
Good Ole Norma Jean. I have loved you since Bless the Martyr, I went through your clean break with Scogin, I held on anxiously waiting to hear your new vocalist, I stood strong through your Botch days, and I embraced you for vs. The Anti-Mother. Then you announced you would be "returning to your roots" and that was a blow for me. One of my favorite bands announcing they were planning on regressing after so much progress? I was not going to stand for it! I tweeted for days telling you not to listen to the critics of vs. The Anti-Mother and to move on with the musical road you had been paving for yourself, and what did I get at the end of all this? Your best album to date.
Meridional, in my opinion, is the perfect blend of the past four Norma Jean albums. Rather than "returning to their roots" the band took bits and pieces of their past and put them together to pave a way for their future. Meridional was the kick start Norma Jean was needing to kick the Normachine into gear and believe me when I say this album delivers a punch to your eardrums.
Guitar riffs are mmm mmm good in Meridional. Much like any other Norma Jean release the guitarists ability to write catchy, definable riffs have placed the band leagues above other bands in terms or memorability. You could play me any section from a Norma Jean and I can without a doubt name the song and album for you. The guitars are driving when they need to be and relaxed and ambient when the time suits it.
Unlike most people it seems I happen to enjoy the instrumental tracks on the album. While some would say they are filler I'd beg to differ, there is a reason why they are put there and I don't see how they break up the flow of the album at all, if anything it gives it a new sonic level and helps Meridional branch out.
Amongst people I know I will always get flak for saying this, but I LOVE Cory Brandan's vocal abilities. His voice is dirty, it's weird, it's nasty, and it's oh so good. There is passion in this man's throat and he lets it ring out like few can do. Whether he's talking, yelling, or screaming you can tell he truly is in tune with the message he is delivering and it's a remarkable experience to hear his conviction filled yells cut through the perfect anthems the band have put together.
A few key parts you can't miss on this album, the ending breakdown to The Anthem of the Angry Brides is hard hitting and forces itself into your head. The last 2:00 of Blood Burner is insane, I'll leave it at that. High Noise Low Input is catchy as hell and a very powerful song, and finally, Falling From The Sky: Day Seven is one of the best songs the band has ever written, it builds and builds and builds into an end that will not dissatisfy.
We should all be excited for the Normachine.