Northlane
Alien


4.0
excellent

Review

by Marshall Clifton USER (5 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2019 | 313 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Northlane breaks new ground in metalcore and strikes gold.

Northlane has long been a tale of two lineups- much like the subjects of geometry and algebra, many listeners have found themselves preferring one of the band’s vocalists over another. Up until today, Northlane has operated in two distinct spheres, representing the Fitipaldes and Bridge eras. For Alien, the band brings back some of the popular (and well-executed) heavy trappings of old, to great success. Ultimately though, what makes this album stand out is the execution of industrial and electronic music wrapped within metalcore, taking the subgenre to a sound and place it has never quite been before.

As a result, the predictable and the unpredictable each come in waves on this album. The more groove-oriented sounds of Node and especially Mesmer remain present, but evolve into a heavier and more aggressive form than this listener would have expected from Northlane in 2019. Tracks like “Bloodline” and “4D” retain the melodic metal flows of the most recent era of the band, but consistently surprise and elate when they descend into skull-crushing madness. As an example, the latter fully embraces industrial metal in its intro, with an upbeat, almost Nine Inch Nails-esque drive, before a synth line breaks the track into unexpected open space. Just a moment later, the song turns yet another corner, before eventually falling into open-string oblivion. Just one track later on “Talking Heads”, the band cranks it from 10 to 11 with a straight-up doom metal ending that shows no ***ing mercy. Bassists will rejoice upon listening to this album, and numerous stank-faced moments await metal guitarists (or fans) of all creeds.

Some of the polyrhythmic and djent elements of this album (oh yes, it very much djents) have been compared to Meshuggah from the start. Although key portions of this album have the same polyrhythmic, relentless intensity of djent’s namesake, Alien elevates itself above mere mimicry by retaining Northlane’s penchant for melody and making it work. Successfully integrating industrial metal and the best qualities of nu-metal just feels like an additional accomplishment. Alien is at its best when it combines the “old”, heavier-minded Northlane sounds with the newer, more melodic flows of the current lineup’s output and ties them together with fresh electronic influences.

This isn’t to say the album is without its faults. The back half of the album is not consistently enthralling, and there are some moments in Alien that may detract from the experience for some listeners. I was stunned by the harsh spoken-word sequence that leads into the cerebellum-shattering, C# drop-tuned breakdown of the aforementioned single “Talking Heads”, until I heard Bridge do almost the same thing with an inferior outcome on opening track “Details Matter”. There are also some listeners who will not like the attempts to meld together several of the above-mentioned musical elements, and time will help judge this fairly creative and bridging metalcore album.

At the end of the day, this isn’t old Northlane or the Northlane of the last four years, this is Northlane: Phase 3. With fresh musical influences and a pivot towards an entirely new direction, the band has given us a complex and realized glimpse of one way metalcore could evolve and branch out in the next decade.


user ratings (201)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (1)
Executive Officer Kane got off easy....


Comments:Add a Comment 
sharkmsc
August 2nd 2019


225 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't written a review in years, went to grad school and life happened. Just felt prepared and interested in writing this one. Thanks for reading!

JayEnder
August 2nd 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review for an album I wasn't expecting to love so much. Great job man!



4D goes so hard it's almost criminal.

Digging: Knocked Loose - A Different Shade of Blue

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


9962 Comments


Good review, I believe it's effective in outlining what this album is about.

Not sure I'm up for another djenty-boys album, but this apparent shift in direction is almost enough to intrigue me.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

pjquinones747
August 2nd 2019


3037 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is probably gonna be more sub-par post-Adrian djent mediocrity

Digging: Defeater - Empty Days and Sleepless Nights

JeetJeet
August 2nd 2019


6898 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hmm...slightly interested even tho the singles I've heard from this didn't move me at all.

Digging: Young Thug - So Much Fun

Toondude10
August 2nd 2019


13990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This shit's good, real good

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


9962 Comments


Obligatory: does this album B O U N C E?

Sinternet
August 2nd 2019


20037 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

ass

Digging: Taylor Swift - Lover

henryChinaski
August 2nd 2019


4244 Comments


Cool will check.

Digging: Bon Iver - i,i

sharkmsc
August 2nd 2019


225 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Titties

JayEnder
August 2nd 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Details Matter, 4D, Jinn, and Sleepless all rule so fucking hard.



Rift is the only skippable song really. Singles are polarising, but I dug them personally.

TheNotrap
August 2nd 2019


11612 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WAS RAISED IN HEEELL

Digging: Humanity's Last Breath - Abyssal

StarlessCore
August 2nd 2019


6103 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Worst band ever prob

Digging: Blizzi Boi - Purity Rang

JayEnder
August 2nd 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Chief Keef: 4"





Sinternet
August 2nd 2019


20037 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

chief keef is good these guys aint

JayEnder
August 2nd 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol

JeetJeet
August 2nd 2019


6898 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Bout 3 songs in and it just sounds like these guys are trying to be a heavier version of Celldweller.

DeadBitchAlexis
August 2nd 2019


1855 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Glad to see that bad 90s Pop Industrial is starting to comeback due to Metalcore.

Toondude10
August 2nd 2019


13990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

tbh a good description of this would be if Celldweller was trying to make a djent album



take that as you will

Sinternet
August 2nd 2019


20037 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

celldweller was actually interesting though



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