Norma Jean
Polar Similar


4.5
superb

Review

by Shattered_Future USER (51 Reviews)
December 14th, 2017 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I just threw my chair out the window it's so heavy.

A moment of honesty: Wrongdoers is the only Norma Jean album I care about. I wrote off Bless The Martyr and Kiss The Child when I was 13, much preferring the huge choruses of Killswitch Engage and whatever else was on MTV's Headbangers Ball that prided catchiness over chaos. Wrongdoers blipped up on my radar after 2013's year end cycle and slowly but surely worked its way into my roster of favorite albums of all time. The twin pillars of metalcore and sludge that supported the band's every desire to go buck wild was absolutely astounding; here was a band, six albums into their career, revitalizing themselves in a way I didn't think possible. This came at the detriment to the rest of their discography though... when you're listening to the pinnacle of a band's career, why bother listening to how they got there" It's not nearly as good.

I mention this story solely because I fear that's how people will view Wrongdoers after listening to Polar Similar.

That's not a negative thing, by any means. Polar Similar is hands down the best metal album of the year, and I'd make a very strong case that it's the new benchmark for popular metal as a whole. This is Norma Jean at their most ferocious, opening with the strongest 1-2 (and yeah, 3-4 as well) punch I've heard in YEARS. Vocalist Cory Putman's admonition of "I hope you burn/I'll be the king of the ash" roaring over the tremendously sludgy drop A riff of "I: The Planet" is the stuff of mosh pit legend, pressed into full effect when I saw them live earlier this year. Following tracks "Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else", "Forever Hurtling Towards Andromeda" and "1,000,000 Watts" don't do much to buck the trend, but the riffing is top notch, Putman's excellent one liners are tossed around like spare change, and, most importantly, the songwriting is SMART. Norma Jean have always excelled at swapping octaves to withhold and administer heaviness, and it's all the little things like that which make Polar Similar such a masterpiece.

If there's any faults, Polar Similar's opening is so strong that listening to the album all the way through in one sitting causes the back third to drag. Picking it up with a fresh set of ears displays a deep, wearied depression that's equally as enjoyable as the punishing fury of the former two thirds (special mention to "Death Is A Living Partner" and potential best track nominee "Shattered Sun"); straight through, the writing comes across as plodding and dull. And sure, the interludes are superflous and unnecessary. But these are small blips in an ocean of war. It's not often a band creates their magnum opus 7 albums into their career, but Norma Jean have never really shown any signs of slowing down. Lucky us.

Best Track: "Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else". From riff nirvana to windmill machine at the toss of a dime.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Shattered_Future
December 14th 2017


1560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Shit I wrote this a year ago for my website, might as well stop lurking for 10 years and come back briefly.

BlackwaterPork
December 14th 2017


4328 Comments


Nice review for one of my favourite metalcore albums. Pos

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

grannypantys
December 14th 2017


1944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"This came at the detriment to the rest of their discography though... when you're listening to the pinnacle of a band's career, why bother listening to how they got there" It's not nearly as good."



I disagree with the sentiment for a number of reasons, but overall this is a good review.

XingKing
December 14th 2017


14038 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review is... odd. This album though is superb.

Wildcardbitchesss
December 14th 2017


1894 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not very many bands can say their seventh album is their best.

SteakByrnes
December 14th 2017


13527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still dig Wrongdoers more than this

Digging: Joji - Ballads 1

guitarded_chuck
December 14th 2017


16513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is their best one since bless the martyr imo

MotokoKusanagi
December 14th 2017


1586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

An Ocean of War slaps so hard

coma2rium
December 14th 2017


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This and Wrongdoers are a new peak for this band, and it is pretty nuts it came this far into their career, especially when I thought The Anti Mother was the death of NJ.

MotokoKusanagi
December 14th 2017


1586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah they are definitely keeping it fresh stylistically. i wasn't a huge fan of anti mother at first but i think it's pretty great now. i like all their stuff tbh including bless the martyr, although that one is mostly just nostalgia from highschool

ConcubinaryCode
December 14th 2017


4386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Redeemer gets overlooked so hard, but I'm loving the sound they've been building upon since meridonal

RogueNine
December 14th 2017


3686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had barely even listened to any metalcore albums before this came out, but I listened to it and it became my AOTY that year. Caught me by surprise for sure.

XingKing
December 15th 2017


14038 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Redeemer gets overlooked so hard [2]

MotokoKusanagi
December 15th 2017


1586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

FIGHT FAIR, FIGHT FAIR

RogueNine
December 15th 2017


3686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love the summary btw.

Ponton
Emeritus
December 15th 2017


6362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is pretty cool

calmrose
December 16th 2017


3866 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Redeemer gets overlooked so hard, but I'm loving the sound they've been building upon since meridonal [2]

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

Relinquished
December 16th 2017


38410 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

props to the chariot cuz without them doing Long Live this band wouldn’t have had to compete

XingKing
December 16th 2017


14038 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I’ve always thought it was interesting how The Chariot stepped up their game with Long Live and One Wing and then Norma followed suit with Wrongdoers and now Polar Similar

Nikkolae
December 16th 2017


5397 Comments


"props to the chariot cuz without them doing Long Live this band wouldn’t have had to compete"

The Chariot will always have the upper hand on these guys, however, this is fantastic

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Formlessness [2016]



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