Review Summary: Not your average metalcore act but still contains its flaws.
Northlane hail from Sydney, Australia and may be comparable to other similar metalcore acts hailing from Australia as well (Feed her to the Sharks, Parkway Drive). However, what separates Northlane from the dying genre of metalcore is the immense amount of effort that they demonstrate in this album. This album rounds off at 41 minutes but is well worth the listen. There is not anything that is different from any other metalcore act; there are still lots of “junz” and prolonged breakdowns. What makes this a listenable album, is how well the band rejuvenates the qualities that plague other bands in this genre.
One unique quality that is immediately apparent is the vocals. The low harsh vocals intertwine perfectly with the breakdowns and riffs making the songs more enjoyable. The high harsh vocals portray a sense of despair or pain, which adds variations of depth and emotion to these tracks. Something that caught me off guard was the use of clean vocals in tracks like “Metamorphosis” and “Exposure”, but they stray from an average chorus. There are parts where the singing could be eliminated because it’s used for the sole purpose of having it in there which provides little to the song.
The guitar work is exceptional but is a flaw of this album. Melodic guitar work could have made this album a 4-4.25 but is not apparent in this album. The guitar holds its own and has some well-done parts but it feels like it has been done before. The exceptions to this would be the instrumental “Discoveries” and the track “I Shook Hands with Death”. “Discoveries” displays a beautiful progression of guitars meshed with piano eventually picking up speed to include a riff. “I Shook Hands with Death” opens with an instrumental guitar work but is overlapped with an “After the Burial-Esque” melody.
The Drumming is very good displaying Nic’s creativity with each passing track. Variation and unpredictable drum rhythm keeps this album moving along nicely while portraying the talent this drummer possesses. Keeping the progression from one part to the next while still providing structure to each song, is what this drummer does best.
The lyrics are both good and bad throughout this work (I know it’s weird). In “Dispossession” the lyrics reveal an internal struggle that seems to haunt this vocalist or whom-ever writes the lyrics. “Unfamiliar reflection stare at me, these eyes are not my own. Running from my demons in this endless valley. Show me the way, because I no longer know right from wrong.” This is an instance of lyrics that are meaningful and work well together but it tends to become whiny and annoying. “Money and corruption ruin the land. Crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits, treating us like sheep. We're tired of hearing promises we know they'll never keep”. Overall the lyrical work adds a dimension that would otherwise be nonexistent.
This is an album that proves that Northlane will become a prominent metalcore act in the future as this album gains the popularity that it should. I would recommend this to anyone enjoys this genre.
I Shook Hands with Death