Review Summary: Reanimation.
Losing a vocalist and frontman, especially one who played such a huge role in making the band’s package work, isn’t the easiest thing to power through for any artist. Sure, Northlane is admittedly a young band, and has an easier shot at a clean slate than a band going for twenty plus years, but the blow is still clearly going to be felt. However, as far as this pitfall usually goes for artists, Node
is a handy indicator that Northlane is coming through the ordeal fairly unscathed. It strikes the right balance between holding down what Northlane is all about (spacey, semi-progressive metalcore) and treading into new territory to make an album that succeeds where it could have easily failed.
New frontman Marcus Bridge makes his presence felt right from the get-go by doing his best not to emulate his predecessor Adrian Fitipaldes. Instead of something akin to Adrian’s aggressive style, Marcus is comparable to Periphery’s Spencer Sotelo in that his clean singing dominates instead of harsh screams. Marcus certainly has the voice to pull it off at least, his soaring range matching perfectly with Northlane’s atmospheric melodies. On the other hand, his screams can’t match Adrian’s in a flat out comparison, but taken with no prior expectations they serve their purpose well enough. At the very least, the frantic screams keep his performance from being one-note.
Old fan’s will be happy to find Northlane’s soul mostly intact within Node’s
eleven tracks. “Rot” and “Ra” especially exemplify this, with colossal downtuned bottom string notes booming underneath and background ambiance that speaks to extraterrestrial themes. These things are old hat to Northlane, no matter how well executed they might be. The new ideas on display are what shine, and it’s obvious that most are there as an effort from the band to build around the presence of their new vocalist. Atmosphere has never been as much of a focus as it is on Node
. A surprising amount of time is spent on quiet moments and otherworldly textures, as compared to the more rhythmic focuses of the last two records, Discoveries
. There’s even a general feel of accessibility that drapes across the record, most likely due to the emphasis on Marcus’ cleans. At times it even feels like Northlane’s proggy metalcore is splitting off left field towards tightly structured post hardcore. There’s never a lack of balance though, and the accessible songwriting suits Northlane’s sound without blocking out their progressive leanings entirely.
is essentially proof that Northlane could power on after losing a key member, and in most aspects it succeeds. There are some issues that detract of course, enough that naysayers will have fuel for their pyre. Some flat production and mixing issues that undermine some of the heavier moments, a couple of filler tracks, and Marcus’ divisive harsh vocals hold them back for now, but at least the band is doing new things with this release as opposed to a total rehash. The new musical ground will surely turn off some, but new fans are always out there ready to replace the old ones. Northlane feels rejuvenated with this release, and not replaced. It’s still Northlane, just with some new tricks and an exciting new voice.