Wednesday, August 6, 2008

album review: norma jean - the anti mother (2008)

Artist: Norma Jean
Album: The Anti Mother
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: August 5, 2008

Norma Jean have been a front runner of the metalcore movement, creating urgent, passionate and heavy music for over eight years. The latest offering from the Georgia quintet, titled The Anti Mother, is a fresh sound for the group, who have spent the last two years touring in support of their 2006 release, Redeemer.

The Anti Mother is a concept of a character drawn up by the band to represent something that is outwardly beautiful, but possesses deceptive traits. Lead vocalist Cory Brandan has stated that this is both Norma Jean’s most melodic, as well as heavy record to date. Ironically, the concept bodes well with the album itself, as the music is very deceptive of what fans have come to know and embrace as Norma Jean.

What you won’t find on The Anti Mother are the double bass breakdowns and drop-D tuned riffs of their blistering debut Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child or the sporadic time signatures and Botch-like song structures of O’ God the Aftermath. But what you will find is the more straight-forward hard-rock approach similar to much of Redeemer.

One thing immediately noticeable about The Anti Mother is the drastic change in Brandan’s vocals. The guttural screams and growls found on previous albums have now transitioned into more melodic screams. Songs like “Self Employed Chemist” and “Robots 3, Humans 0” seem to be showcases of Norma Jean’s take on radio nu-metal, as Brandan puts in his best effort to use his singing voice, but gives a lackluster performance.

Norma Jean has soaked up influences from many bands, and in many cases, do their best to mimic their peers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the past year, Norma Jean has constantly toured with southern-rock enthusiasts Every Time I Die, and the influence is apparent on songs like “Birth of the Anti Mother.” The group also does their best Deftones impression on “Surrender Your Sons,” and managed to recruit the Deftones’ lead singer Chino Moreno, who aided in the songwriting, creating the standout track on the album. Another guest spot comes from Page Hamilton, lead singer of Helmet, whose obnoxious vocal melodies on “Opposite of Left and Wrong” sear through your eardrums, forcing you to find the ‘next’ button immediately.

Despite its shortcomings, The Anti Mother has its share of impressive tracks. Along with “Birth of the Anti Mother” and “Death of the Anti Mother,” Norma Jean scrounges up all of their collective talent, resulting in “And There Will Be a Swarm of Hornets,” easily one of the band’s best works to date. The song is as beautiful as it is relentless, and proves to be a grand closer on an underwhelming album.

Throughout the years, Norma Jean has managed to create great albums that push the boundaries of metal and rock. However, The Anti Mother is uninspiring, and will be filed away onto the large shelf of mediocrity that exists within this genre.

Grade: D+

norma jean on myspace.



Anonymous said...

Your an Idiot, this album is great. Just because they change up their sound and sing on a few songs, doesn't depreciate the albums credibility. To tell you the truth a few songs on there I thought they were ft. the singer from thrice. This album is great, don't listen to close minded people

weworemasks said...

weworemasks said...
a few notes:

-i'm an idiot for having an opinion?

-thrice? no.

-the singer from saosin, helmet and deftones are on it.

-i like all of norma jean's previous albums. redeemer was ok. so the fact that they "changed their sound" had no effect on my opinion. it was because the songs were trash and cory's singing voice sounds like seether getting fingered by staind.

-if you're really sour about this, why'd you go anonymous? my aim screen name is on the side, feel free to discuss.

-most importantly, it's you're, not your. well-played on that one.

thanks for reading and thanks for the hit!


alia said...

Anon is right changing their sound doesnt depreciate the album's cred. Being Norma Jean alone already did that.

drudo182 said...

Well, I don't think it's necessary to call anyone an idiot but I also don't agree with the review at all.

I am a fan of all their work and Redeemer is probably still my favorite record of theirs. I also really like what NJ has to offer with The Anti Mother.

I don't know what it is but I actually like Cory's clean vocals on these songs and I really love Surrender Your Sons, but that might have something to do with my love for Cove Reber.

I think it's another solid, different, release for Norma. I can see people not liking it but they are obviously shifting their music in a different direction. I dig it.

roshan said...

alia - hahaha get out

drudo - aren't you from
i can see anyone who likes redeemer really liking this album, but my favorite album from them is o god, despite the heavy botch rip. lyrically and musicially and aesthetically (artwork!) it's just a better record. redeemer was good, but a little weak. just lacked that punch.

surrender your sons is a dope track, definitely agreed, but it sounds like a deftones b-side, which is why i love it. i counted 4 good songs on this album, and 6 bad. considering, that's 40%. i'd say my D+ is more than generous, ya dig?

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