Norma Jean - Meridional
Razor & Tie
13 songs (67:21)
Release year: 2010
Norma Jean, Razor & Tie
Reviewed by Thomas

Norma Jean. A band immensely hated by metal elitists, and loved by Christian metalcore-kiddies who don't know Iron Maiden from Underoath. I like to consider myself a so-called elitist, though I have my odd favorites in the scolded style that is metalcore anyway. Converge is one of my favorite bands, though I strictly consider them hardcore, and well, for some reason Norma Jean appeals to me in a way that Bullet For my Valentine, Trivium and KIllswitch Engage never ever will. Still, I'll be the first to admit that I grossly over-scored their last effort The Anti-Mother, which isn't as good as I made it out to be, Redeemer however, remains one of my favorites in a genre where I like maybe three or four bands. Anyway, I haven't listened to Norma Jean in a good good while, and wasn't even sure I would review this. The band has gone on and on about how they were going back to their roots with Meridional, which means lots of crude riffs, rhythms and noises that are pretty hard to swallow, yet still fun when you have. However, they later stated that they meant in terms of writing songs and not necessarily style and sound, which is rather clear here.

Meridional follows in the footsteps of Redeemer and The Anti-Mother, with accessible, enjoyable songs, with bunches of drive, a pinch of technicality as well as the trademark vocals of Cory Brandan Putman that sets this bands distinctly apart from the crowd. The songs are intelligently glued together, yet contains a massive pile of extra commercial appeal that was also audible on the previous two. On Meridional however, the guys seems to put their trust in more melodic break-downs containing emo-like clean vocals, or whole songs geared in said direction. Luckily though, there's a decent amount of tracks that hit as hard as you'd expect them to, with Putman sounding as angry as Josh Scogin (The Chariot) in some places. Strangely enough, songs like A Media Friendly Turn For the Worse and The People That Surround You On a Regular Basis, with mentioned distinct elements of metalcore, are the ones that grabbed me on first listen. Both are illegally catchy and loaded with hooks, even though they're both simple and not particularly infested with skill and originality. Then again, there are moments where they slip, cross the line, and just overdoes it. Take Falling From the Sky: Day Seven as an example of failure, with bunches of downright annoyingly emotional vocal lines coupled with pointless plucking and itchy riffs. On the contrary, Leaderless and Self-Enlisted, Deathbed Atheist and the actual music on 25-minute closer Innocent Bystanders United delivers to the max. Downtuned madness, chugging yet interesting, sometimes crushing guitar-work with a crunchy sound, alternating top notch vocals, colored with great complex, nearly math-like rhythm work.

Meridional is a long album, which unfortunately contains a couple of down-points. Surprisingly enough it's the more hardcore-tinged tunes like Bastardizer and Blood Burner that disappoint me here. The mindless interludes, even though they're probably weaved into the theme of the album, Septentrional and Occidental is a waste of space and so is the 22 minutes or so so without music on the otherwise brilliant closer Innocent Bystanders United. Norma Jean-albums tend to have some filler material, and due to the length of this, this is bound to have more. Fairly uninteresting The Anthem for Angry Brides and High Noise Low Output are neither something to write home about. All these factors drops the rate significantly, and while much better than The Anti-Mother, it still isn't near the level of Redeemer. Still, this is a safe bet if you like this kind of music, and of course you should get it if you like Norma Jean, as this is them through and through.

Killing Songs :
Leaderless and Self-Enlisted, Deathbed Atheist, A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse, The People That Surround You on a Regular Basis, Innocent Bystanders United
Thomas quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Norma Jean that we have reviewed:
Norma Jean - Redeemer reviewed by Thomas and quoted 86 / 100
Norma Jean - The Anti-Mother reviewed by Thomas and quoted 84 / 100
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 16 replies to this review. Last one on Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:19 pm
View and Post comments