Norma Jean – Meridional
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Record Label: Razor & Tie
If the Anti Mother sessions with Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Helmet’s Page Hamilton taught Norma Jean anything, it was definitely to think bigger. While 2008’s The Anti Mother was mixed among fans and critics, it definitely set the stage for Norma Jean’s latest wrecking ball, Meridional. Norma Jean has always been one step ahead with their brand of heavy music, never dumbing it down for the masses, and Meridional is no exception. By taking the aggression of O God The Aftermath, the melodies that littered Redeemer, and the experimental approach of The Anti Mother, the band has created their heaviest, loosest, and most progressive album yet.
Meridional begins with “Leaderless and Self Enlisted,” and while it has all the classic Norma Jean elements – ripping guitar chords and Cory Brandan’s massive howl – it still sounds fresh, but the musicianship is just tighter and heavier. Really, the Douglasville, Georgia, quintet pours on the heavy like a southerner pours on the hot sauce. “The Anthem of The Angry Brides” is may be the heaviest song in the band’s canon, as it’s a two and half minute burst of pure disjointed mathcore. The floggings continue with the punishing “Bastardizer,” as the track is buoyed by breakdown after breakdown, courtesy of guitarists (and original members) Chris Day and Scottie Henry.
But the album isn’t heavy just for the sake of being heavy. Tracks like “Deathbed Athiest” and “Falling From The Sky: Day Seven” display some technical skills while sludging along with Brandan’s sing-screams. The amped-up “A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse” flows in the vein of The Artist In The Ambulance-era Thrice. All three share one thing in common, however, and that is the fury the band unleashes towards the close of each track.
There are two eerie interludes placed in Meridional, and each one signifies a change in pace. Whether it’s the band making it rain with breakdowns (“Everlasting Tapeworm” and “Blood Burner”) or setting the mood with some ambiance (“Falling From The Sky: Day Seven”), Norma Jean combines old ideas with a new approach to keep itself from rehashing generic metalcore.
Meridional shows Norma Jean at an all-time high of creativity and aggression. The band promised that their fifth album would bring the band back to their roots, and they kept their word. It’s an adrenaline rush that will keep listeners hitting repeat all year long, as Meridional has something for everyone. The powerful moments on this disc (such as “The Anthem of The Angry Brides” and closer “Innocent Bystanders United”) will stick with you, reverberating throughout your neocortex. This is Norma Jean’s magnum opus, as the chaotic, dark nature of Meridional will be matched by very few within the genre.