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Norma Jean’s ‘Meridional’

July 19, 2010

It’s one of the most difficult things in music to build a sturdy bridge over the gap between the no-holds-barred brutality of hardcore and the sing along melodies of more popular, radio-friendly, music. So many bands over the past few years have attempted time and time to do just that with a very select few (if any) ever successfully doing so. With their latest release ‘Meridional’, Norma Jean have not only built that bridge, but they’ve burned to the ground every other sorry attempt that has come before them.

Songs like ‘A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse’ and ‘The People That Surround You On A Regular Basis’ could be the best that the band has ever written to date. ‘Meridional’ as a whole swings violently back and forth between back-breaking heaviness to beautiful, uplifting harmony without ever letting the listener fall to the depths of confusion and mediocrity below. Most of this gorgeous cohesion can be attributed to the album’s producer, Jeremy Griffith, who takes such care in the details of both the monstrous and the minute that there is no risk of either falling flat. The albums lyrics are another highlight, making even the quietest, most sober moments on ‘Meridional’ heavy under their weight. Vocalist Cory Brandan walks the fine line between singing and screaming for almost the whole record, further illustrating the band’s wide stance over the line between dark and light, a foot firmly planted on either side.

If you had told me in 2002, when I heard Norma Jean’s first record ‘Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child’, that they would have so quickly and brilliantly evolved into the band they are today, I would most definitely have called you crazy. The shift from the utter chaos and brutality of ‘Bless the Martyr’, to the artful and elegant dance across the bridge they’ve built between two polar opposite musical worlds, is a beautiful thing to behold. If you’re a fan of ISIS, Thrice, or any other band that successfully bridges the same gap, do yourself a favor and check out Norma Jean’s ‘Meridional’ [iTunes link].

Matt Battaglia is in The Victor Ship, and just got himself a blog (click his name!).


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