Review Summary: Consistency is king.
I tried to listen to Deathrattle Sing for Me
on a car ride a couple of days ago and about three tracks in I realized I wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved. So I stopped it and waited until I was in a more opportune position to really understand it. Tonight I took my iPad up to the roof of my apartment building and looked out on the LA skyline for a while soaking this album in. I’m glad I did.
I’m going to diverge for a second here but it’s going to make sense. As a self-respecting Angeleno, I’m obviously obsessed with In-N’-Out. Why? Consistency.
I can go to any location along the west coast, order a Double Double and know exactly what I am going to get. I do it knowing it’s not the best burger I could eat, but I’m not looking for some fine dining experience at In-N’-Out. I’m looking for a Goddamned Double Double. I’m looking for that food that I know
I’m going to enjoy.
The same principle applies to Norma Jean. Before I get into the shifting soundscapes of this album, I’m going to highlight the single most important factor that sticks out to me about it. Norma Jean is consistent. Whether every song is a masterpiece on the album or not isn’t relevant. The album as a whole is consistently excellent, and the band themselves seem to age like a fine wine. Over the years, from my first introduction to Norma Jean to present time, they have established themselves as masters of their craft. Is it the most musically outstanding album ever? No, but they are all incredible musicians. Is it the most insanely technical? Probably not, although there are some excellent passages. But in the context of their discography and within the album itself, consistency
Deathrattle Sing for Me
doesn’t change a whole lot about the Norma Jean formula, but the delivery is something to behold. The shifts between sludgy, even (dare I say it) bluesy, riffs and slides are contrasted against samples, punk passages, breakdowns and Norma Jean’s signature approach to mathcore. What’s even more admirable is that they play around with their formula and approach it in enough of a new way that it also stands as its own work of art, separate from the rest of their music.
Musically, the band shows no sign of letting up from scorching the listener with crushing riffs, mind-bending time signatures and no-holds breakdowns. But in between the pummeling, there are interludes and passages of samples and soundscapes that let one take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery, before diving back into the deranged metalcore that is Norma Jean. The sampling works well, mostly due to the fact that it is not used as a crutch for bad songwriting.
The length of the record is the main enemy here. While it is not unnervingly long, it is a time investment, and could serve as a drawback for those who are looking for a more direct experience.
But all in all, this is a musical experience that should be experienced
. Norma Jean remain at the top of their game and respects are due, so pay them.