Norma Jean


01. Leaderless and Self Enlisted
02. The Anthem of the Angry Brides
03. Deathbed Atheist
04. Bastardizer
05. A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse
06. Septentrional
07. Blood Burner
08. High Noise Low Output
09. Falling From The Sky: Day Seven
10. Everlasting Tapeworm
11. Occidental
12. The People That Surround You on a Regular Basis
13. Innocent Bystanders United

While I enjoyed 2008’s Norma Jean vs The Anti-Mother, I must admit it wasn’t up to the quality that Norma Jean are capable of. I felt like, while the album was enjoyable and catchy, there should be more out of the band that wrote O God, The Aftermath. Of course, the lineup has changed drastically since then, but I felt like the band had seen one two many Warped Tours and was slowly becoming more and more scene oriented with some of the songs on The Anti-Mother. Luckily, the band is on an upswing with Meridional, perhaps being just as good as 2006’s The Redeemer, finding a sweet spot between catchy anthemic choruses and mathcore insanity.

I feel that Meridional is a step in the right direction for Norma Jean. The songwriting feels a bit more mature and forward thinking when compared to the band’s last couple of albums, and it shows in the album’s flow and momentum. The arrangements are more complex and layered with a subtle air of experimentation, as displayed in the inclusion of songs like “Septentrional,” “Occidental,” and the hidden track “Oriental” providing some interesting interludes.

This album is a bit more diverse in tone and sound. For example, “The Anthem Of The Angry Brides” takes a page out of the Dillinger Escape Plan playbook and is a constant barrage of technical guitar work and pummeling aggression that, along with“Bastardizer” and “Blood Burner” providing raw fast paced and dissonant chaos, will be sure to please fans of older Norma Jean material. Meanwhile, “Deathbed Atheist” creeps along in an atmosphere of twirling guitar noise before building up to a larger sound by the end while “Falling From The Sky: Day Seven” serves as a ballad of sorts, slower and more melodic and cleanly sung. “A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse” is easily the catchiest song on Meridional, with a very memorable and powerful chorus hook while still being harder hitting than most of The Anti-Mother while songs like “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” and “High Noise Low Output” provide middle ground on aggression and chorus-centric hooks. “Innocent Bystanders United” is a strong closing track, marching along past soundscapes of guitar noise and samples into a somber climax and piano outro.

Keeping in mind that this is by no means a return to the form of O God or Bless The Martyr that many were hoping for, there’s something here to please just about any Norma Jean fan with Meridional acting as a summation of the band’s material thus far. This album might just be career defining, as the band seems to be getting more comfortable with where they are and who they are. The band are doing a balancing act, and while they are still a bit shaky at times, they are remaining on the wire where others would topple off.

Norma Jean’s Meridional gets


– JR


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