Published Jul 13, 2010Atlanta, GA-based post-metalcore trailblazers Norma Jean have, with Meridional, just completed the ultimate hat trick of innovative and genre-pushing albums. Although their 2002 debut and its 2005 follow-up were impressive displays of hardcore and metal, with 2006's Redeemer, the band found their sound, one that involved gutsy displays of anguished crooning and more simplistic song structures. 2008's The Anti Mother took that sound and added even better songwriting chops, and with this disc, Norma Jean have confirmed they can combine catchy songs, intense playing and emotive singing like no other group. Their trick is to keep things noisy (check out the chaos of opening track "Leaderless and Self Enlisted"), thanks to the slapdash production that barely holds it all together, and riffs that only stop their maniacal swirling ("The Anthem of the Angry Brides") to open wide and let the songs breathe in a way most metalcore bands will never know ― the amazing "Deathbed Atheist" and "The People that Surround You on a Regular Basis" would be hit singles in some alternate, better universe. "Falling from the Sky: Day Seven" perfectly combines everything Norma Jean do in one chilling effort. The only thing stopping this album from being jaw-droppingly amazing is an anticlimactic bonus track, one bad habit no band should leave unbroken in 2010.
Meridional takes the sound of your last two albums and refines it to exactly where you want to be, in my opinion.
Drummer Chris Raines: The last few records have been doing different things; this one truthfully mixed a lot of those records with what we wanted to do this time. I think we took all the good that we liked from the past records and added the new touch that we wanted to put on it, which was a heavier and darker theme.
You skipped working with a big-name producer and recorded with a friend. Was this the fastest you've ever recorded an album?
Yeah, just about. On the actual recording, we only spent a month. And that's about a third of what we spent on the last one.
This is your first album away from Solid State. How are things going with Razor & Tie?
When you're on a label with 20 other heavy bands, you're just thrown into the mix. But here, they do tons of projects, but there's really just All That Remains and us, on the heavier side. So you really get the attention and things you don't get from a label that's dealing with 20 things that are very similar to you. That's a very nice change, for sure. (Razor & Tie)