Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums

5. Norma Jean
(Razor & Tie)

Wrongdoers is the sixth album from Georgia metalcore dudes Norma Jean, and their fourth since they've been absolutely amazing. It's never an easy sell saying a band that can be termed "metalcore" is "amazing," but the limitations of such labels are proven in a big way with Norma Jean.

Combining loose, chaotic, hard-hitting hardcore with heart-on-sleeve singing that is not in any way embarrassing, pandering, or reminiscent of anything that could be called "emo," the band have done it again, this time around creating some of their greatest moments (see the title track and "Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes"). The secret is in the production, which is huge, raw, and real; the booming sounds complement the band's feedback-drenched take on grooves (never cliché) and melody (never predictable). Norma Jean turn their back on the ultra-polished sounds that so many of their peers embrace and instead have created their greasiest, ugliest album yet... and it works perfectly.

Warts and all? For Norma Jean, the warts are the best part. They've had the formula down pat for a few albums now, but it's a wholly unique sound, and on Wrongdoers they do it as well as they ever have. If we could just come up with a new genre tag to describe these guys, life would be a lot easier for everyone. (Greg Pratt)