Norma Jean - Meridional

Album cover
Metalcore
Razor & Tie
Norma Jean
Meridional
Norma Jean - Meridional Review rating:
2.5
User rating:
Average: 3.4 (12 votes)

After the critical and commercial flop that was The Anti-Mother, it seemed pretty obvious which direction Meridional would take: it would be a "back to our roots" comeback, sure to win back their now-alienated fans, and make their detractors sigh in "well at least it’s better than..." fashion. It delivers in that aspect, clinging to O’ God the Aftermath and Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child’s collective abrasiveness, even throwing in some signature Dillinger Escape Plan elements this time around. Again, controlled chaos is a theme, even using more frantic time signatures, as though to express some exigency that Meridional’s predecessors lacked, even though many of Norma Jean’s records are conceptually identical to this. That’s right, the whole, "We are the Christians" stigma won’t be leaving them anytime soon if they keep this up, but at least they’re taking steps in the right direction. They’ve learned to utilize their strong points (perceptible grooves, feedback, and the occasionally catchy moment), and for a while, they show some of their strengths. Tracks like album opener "Leaderless and Self-Enlisted" show the band’s knack for catchy material, but they also show some major conceptional misfires.

First off, the album’s rather monotonous, repeating the same chromatic and dissonant chords ad. infinitum, copying decade-old metalcore exploits, and occasionally sneaking in a few vocal parts. Sounds like the typical Norma Jean record, right? Yes and no. While the beginning tracks take hints from the band’s first three albums in expected fashion, the album does go off on slower tangents. "Falling From the Sky: Day Seven" shows the band toying with ambience; in terms of quality, it’s entry-level plodding and right above "mediocre." But, in the context of the album, it becomes a much-needed change of pace, especially when you’re sound is, otherwise, completely expected.

"Everlasting Tapeworm" is your typical, boring, breakdown-laden track, as is "Bastardizer," making much of the album’s whole represent the reincarnation of mathcore has-beens. Still, you get the occasional "Deathbed Atheist," which allows the winding guitar scales and complex time signatures to take the spotlight, rather than wither away as nuances. Still, these positive aspects are usually confined to the opening half of the album, leaving the closing sect to fall flat on its ass. Here, the unshaven production quality lets the most exciting riffs and tremolo plucks sink beneath uninspired riffs and a run-of-the-mill howl. Though most of this half is similar to the first, the execution bogs down the soaring cleans, the rough grunts, the melodies, and the technicality into one sludgy, unattractive mess. It comes across as a lazy, poorly executed dive into the confines of their past, and it’s a shame to see, considering that Meridional is, indeed, one of Norma Jean’s best albums.

A large portion of the LP suggests that Norma Jean can explore other genres with successful results; they’re timbral serenity is more adept than their mathcore style, and when they occasionally venture into progressive territory, they shine. However, they just refuse to take hold of all their strengths. They do the expected, but it’s done in a mediocre, humdrum fashion, rendering Meridional a mediocre, humdrum album.

1. Leaderless And Self Enlisted
2. The Anthem Of The Angry Brides
3. Deathbed Atheist
4. Bastardizer
5. A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse
6. Septentrional
7. Blood Burner
8. High Noise Low Output
9. 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

Norma Jean is a metalcore/ mathcore band from Douglasville, Georgia, USA- a suburb of Atlanta. They were originally known as Luti-Kriss. They released two albums: an EP (titled 5ep) in 2000, and a full-length release, Throwing Myself on March 13, 2001. After the release of Throwing Myself, the band changed their name to Norma Jean to avoid confusion with rapper Ludacris.

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