Northlane has been fairly popular since their debut full-length Discoveries came out in November of 2011, but it seems like they’re just now finding a niche to settle into. They’ve always appeared to be a band who was capable of doing something greater with their sound, but something was holding them back. With their latest album, Node, they’ve demolished that which held them down musically. It turns out the only thing they were missing was a true-blue front-man to take the reins and lead the group to the musical promised land. Newly acquired vocalist Marcus Bridge is that true-blue front-man the band needed to propel themselves into making something bigger and better than anything they’ve done before.

It may seem like this review is a love letter to Bridge’s voice, but his presence brings so much to the table that to just play it off as a simple swapping of vocalists is completely unfair. His presence commands some of the best moments on this record, none of which arguably could have existed with Adrian Fitipaldes as the front-man due to his vocal health issues. When Bridge’s clean vocals come in for the first time on the intro track “Soma”, he describes a dystopian city in which people are working tirelessly for scraps while disease looms overhead. It’s quite the image to present only two minutes into the album, but it’s one that sticks with you and feels incredibly real due to the clarity of the image and the emotion Bridge carries through his voice. “Ohm”, which depicts a lone traveler hurdling through the atmosphere and escaping his troubles on Earth, has the most stunning moment on the album by far. As the end of the track draws near, the guitars launch Bridge’s vocals past the thermosphere as he screams, “How clear is the air up there? Breathe easy.” It’s a moment that can’t possibly be given justice through words as it comes together so naturally and instills such a spine-tingling feeling of euphoria.

The more you listen to Node, the care and attention that the instrumentals give to Bridge’s vocals becomes increasingly apparent. It’s this that allow for many of the previously discussed special moments to be executed properly. The music underneath isn’t meant to standout from the vocal performance, but is meant coalesce with it in order to create something that seems much larger. Songs like “Rot”, “Impulse” and “Weightless” just couldn’t happen if the guitars, percussion and electronics didn’t give Bridge a proper platform from which to deliver his performance. The compositions are quality without attempting to subvert attention, which is critical in letting the instrumentals form that platform that can be built upon.

With Fitipaldes’ departure, Northlane were given a chance that allowed them to finally reach their full potential. With Node, the band have released their best collection of songs to date that feature moments that stand head and shoulders above what other bands in their scene are doing. Northlane may have been popular for almost half a decade now, but it would appear that they’ve just now started to show us what they’re truly capable of.

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Northlane’s Node gets…

4/5

-RC

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