Norma Jean
Polar Similar


4.5
superb

Review

by Confessed2005 USER (105 Reviews)
September 13th, 2016 | 332 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Norma Jean release one of the landmark releases of the year and come at you with an album which rivals for their heaviest and darkest to date.

Most of the time, a band's seventh studio album can be a sign of many things. In regards to Norma Jean, Polar Similar shows a group at the height of their experimentation as well as their heaviness, showcasing an album chock full of insurmountably heavy riffs and overtly dark atmosphere. Since the band's inception into the metalcore world, the band have undergone countless overhauls (in terms of sound as well as band members). Their sophomore effort O' God the Aftermath displayed a sound not dissimilar to pioneering metalcore outfit Botch, with outings following displaying a band frought with constant change in terms of the music executed. Polar SImilar is undoubtedly the band's heaviest and darkest release so far, with tracks such as 1,000,000 Watts and Death Is A Living Partner breathing pure sludge-infested material. The guitars are a mix of down-tuned powerhouse sludge and typical metalcore dissonance and the bass is an incredibly beastly overdriven tone which simply heightens the mountain peak of heaviosity.

Tracks such as Reaction boast a slightly progressive edge, with the main riff bordering on the edge of a heavier Tool perhaps. The quieter sections featured throughout the album also mark a masterful and careful approach to creating atmosphere and breathing space. Overall, this helps to make those heavy riffs even more monstrous. The drumming throughout the album is tight - in particular, the breakdowns hold a huge weight behind them, with the kit accenting the beats well. The acoustic outro to Reaction leads into something of a particularly novel interest, with III. The Nebula being a throwback to a southern sound. These interludes help to break the album up nicely, allowing the listener time to digest the material on offer. Whilst some may consider them to be slightly pointless, they serve their purpose well and overall help to add another dimension to Polar Similar.

The closing tracks on the album, whilst probably not as heavy as the first half, certainly pack a mighty punch. The Close and Discontent is a radical mix of southern and sludge metal, whilst An Ocean of War opens up with a progressive-sounding guitar riff before launching into a mid-paced headbanger, again showcasing the band at their tightest in terms of cohesiveness as well as musical execution. As for the production, everything sounds polished as well as organic - something which lends to the great atmosphere created throughout the whole album.

The concluding fifteen or so minutes of the album comes in the form of two final tracks. Again, a mix of those cleaner guitar passages along with the monolithic sludge sections helps to layer up A Thousand Years a Minute. Whilst all the music might stand up to the hype and expectation that preceded this release, it can be said the both the lyrics and vocals take a step back here. The lyrics, whilst focusing on quite an expansive theme conceptually, are relatively simple in terms of construction. Also, the vocals, espeically the cleans, seem a little lackluster. Whereas on albums such as O' God the Aftermath, the vocals were raw and full of presence, the screams are tailored to a more tame manner, never really exploding in full force. Album closer IV. The Nexus begins with a lonely and atmospheric guitar lead before quickly building into a tour de force of sludgy guitars and pounding drums. Overall, it is a pleasing end to a most satisfying album.

So, the seventh album of a band whom have undergone drastic change proves to be quite possibly their best yet. Everything here is of high quality - the instrumentation and production is second to none and the actual musical execution is superb. With numerous listens, [b]Polar Similar]/b] proves to be a very rewarding listen - an album chock full of great riffs and wonderful atmosphere, Norma Jean show that with their seventh album, anything is possible.




Recent reviews by this author
Serpent Of Gnosis As I Drink from the Infinite Well of InebriationWu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Rosetta Terra SolaDeftones White Pony
Slipknot We Are Not Your KindNirvana Nevermind
user ratings (683)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
ramon. (4)
I am the lamb that has become the wolf....

Shattered_Future (4.5)
I just threw my chair out the window it's so heavy....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Snake.
September 13th 2016


22193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first

SteakByrnes
September 13th 2016


19576 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That bold tho

Digging: Spiritbox - Singles Collection

Mort.
September 13th 2016


14895 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAh54uKPHco new vid

elliootsmeuth
September 13th 2016


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's some boldy bold, agreed.

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
September 13th 2016


6501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

usually I'm alright with bold, but i feel like quotation marks would have been more fitting around the song names. also, doing highlighting both band names and the song names in the same way just looks a little off to me. idk, overly long rant on bold. good review regardless, pos

Confessed2005
September 13th 2016


5166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Asleep. I'll make a note about the bold for future reviews.

Space Jester
September 13th 2016


8754 Comments


Why does everyone keep saying Reaction sounds like Tool? I don't hear it at all



ramon.
September 13th 2016


3726 Comments


From a melodic standpoint regarding the guitars, it just sounded really tool-esque to me. Like, considerably more so than anything I've heard from the band ever.

Space Jester
September 14th 2016


8754 Comments


I don't see it at all tbh but it's cool. I really love the bridge on that song

TenSecondsToThink
September 14th 2016


1845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very gud album

Space Jester
September 14th 2016


8754 Comments


The music video is really cooooool

8genre
September 14th 2016


105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You capitalized the first '"i" in "Polar Similar" in the first paragraph

charlie15
September 14th 2016


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My aoty for sure. Been pretty disappointed with this year until this

kingjulian
September 14th 2016


1714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Why does everyone keep saying Reaction sounds like Tool? I don't hear it at all"



The groovy intro before Cory screams the title of the song is straight-up Isis to my ears.

Digging: Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

withateethuh
September 14th 2016


345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album has so much shit going on that its going to take a few listens to really digest. Its just so massive. I didn't even know they were releasing a new album until like...yesterday.

withateethuh
September 14th 2016


345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And god damn the closer is phenomenal.

Scoot
September 14th 2016


19943 Comments


don't know how they managed to top wrongdoers

Digging: Nuvolascura - As We Suffer From Memory and Imagination

Scoot
September 14th 2016


19943 Comments


this or one wing though

calmrose
September 14th 2016


5669 Comments


slight edge to one wing, both are stellar though

Tyler.
September 14th 2016


17992 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i prefer meridonial the most still tbh



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy