Norma Jean - The Anti-Mother
Solid State Records
10 songs ()
Release year: 2008
Norma Jean, Solid State Records
Reviewed by Thomas

Ever since I grew up and began to understand music, hardcore has always been there. The musical underground in my hometown is dominated by metal and oceans of hardcore bands. Relax, my love for metal widely exceeds my love for hardcore. I’m extremely picky when it comes to this genre; however, if I spot something nice I’ll grab it, just as with every other music. Norma Jean changed their name from Luti-Kriss due to the obvious similarity to the rapper Ludacris. Norma Jean play somewhat technical hardcore bordering on metalcore on one side and punk on the other. Sounds interesting, no? Well, for you old-school thrashers or heavy metallers, this is probably a little too `out there` according to your instinct. However, if you’re a sucker for slightly technical yet catchy instrumental work and completely bearable vocals, you should definitely check this out.

Norma Jean sounds like a mixture of several bands. The first band that comes to mind is maybe Underoath, and while this is far from similar to that band, they contain elements that remind me of them. Murphy Was an Optimist is for example a song that generates the same stuff that later Underoath does, only better. As for the sound, the guitars here are not very heavy. The punky Fender-y sound is very apparent, which is rather typical for the hardcore genre nowadays. However, the riffs are crushingly aggressive accompanied by the frenetic screams of Cory Brandan. Opener Vipers, Snakes and Actors is a perfect example on the matter. It’s slow, and everything comes crashing down with those huge riffs and the roaring frantic screams of Cory. The punk rock-ish elements are clearly audible on various songs here, especially on Self Employed Chemist. The riffing and the drums are way more straight-forward, and the vocals are more or less clean through the whole track. Sure, they tend to use every poppy trick in textbook here to make this sound catchy as hell. That may sound bad, but they’re really good at doing it and covering it up. All the technically slick hooks and defined beats created by the strikingly precise rhythmic work on Robots 3 Humans 0 is insane and almost completely ridiculous. In a good way. This is something you definitely want to experience if you’re into catchy music done right.

Although this is for the most part punky hardcore, this does contain hints of the long-forgotten emo hardcore. Now before you let your Bullet For My Valentine-alarm go off, that is not the kind of emo I’m talking about. The older emo hardcore stuff that this sometimes sounds like has nothing to do with the current scene. There, you can sleep tight now. If you are familiar with the good old JR Ewing you know where I’m headed off to. In addition to that you’ll find plenty of post-hardcore spots on this one, as well as some plain metalized passages. The epic closer A Swarm of Hornets for example, opens with a riff that I swear I’ve heard on some black or doom metal record not long ago. Even though there are mostly good stuff on here, some of the tracks, including the one (of two) Anti-Mother-track, tend to drag on a little with their slow pace. Some of the songs here also never seem to end, which surely drags down the level of excitement. This is however not much to whine about, as there is tons of material to make up for it.

If you’ve caught yourself nodding your head to catchy hardcore or some rarely interesting metalcore lately, you should definitely give this a shot. I realize that this is absolutely not for all as I’ve come across more than enough people that completely despise this kind of music. However, if you’re like me and have hardcore/punk somehow injected in your veins from some unfamiliar source, chances are that you will enjoy this. It’s full of minor details that you’ll discover after each listen, which made this a constant visitor in my stereo. Recommended for fans of Converge, The Chariot, Underoath and Jeroan Drive

Killing Songs :
Vipers, Snakes and Actors, Birth of the Anti-Mother, Robots 3 Humans 0, Murphy Was an Optimist, Opposite of Left and Wrong
Thomas quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Norma Jean that we have reviewed:
Norma Jean - Meridional reviewed by Thomas and quoted 79 / 100
Norma Jean - Redeemer reviewed by Thomas and quoted 86 / 100
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