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Album Review: Norma Jean - Meridional

First thing I'm going to admit is that I haven't listened to Norma Jean in a long time, and wouldn't call myself a fan. When I first sat down to listen to their latest release, 'Meridonal', I wasn't sure what to expect. My idea of them consisted of intense metal for the most hardcore of fans, but it means I can attack this without comparing it too much to their older stuff. This album has been over a year in a making, and they've even left their previous label to join independent Razor & Tie. They even describe it as “something totally new”, and it's certainly that.

The second it kicks in, you can really notice how different it is to their older stuff. Taking much more inspiration from heavy rock and bands like Saosin. The intensity is still there, but in a much more melodic way. The opener 'Leaderless and Self Enlisted' has huge riffs, pounding drums and shouted vocals which anyone can 'sing' along to.

'The Anthem of the Angry Brides' brings a bit more of the NJ sound, with fast atonal riffs, big beatdown sections and intense vocals, which new and old fans won't be dissapointed with. Sung vocals even show up in a few of the tracks, providing a nice contrast. Each track is an individual enslaught on the ears, with tracks like Bastardizer being pretty much one big intense beat down, prone to a few circle pits live by the sound of things.

Althought clearly their own sound, it does vary between tracks, ranging from the truly brutal metal sound to much lighter (in comparison) tracks like 'A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse' which reminds me of bands like He Is Legend with huge vocal harmonies and big guitar riffs.

Along with 10 tracks, there are 3 interludes, which are a striking contrast to the songs themselves, with 'Septentrional' consisting of choral singing with what sounds like wave noises. They are straight back into it though afterwards, with more massive beat downs and everything a good metal song should have.

This album is a great listen, and the shifts between heavy metal to more melodic tracks with sung vocals in them work well, as it's nice to move away from the world of beatdowns and chugging guitars sometimes. Their sound has matured, but still carries with it the intensity and power.


'Meridional' by Norma Jean is released on July 13th through Razor & Tie Records.

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Mark Allen

Alter The Press!