Norma Jean O' God, the Aftermath

Norma Jean O' God, the Aftermath
Hot on the heels of the Chariot’s debut (Ex- Norma Jean vocalist Joshua Scogin’s bid for the metalcore throne), Norma Jean’s sophomore release comes burdened with high expectations and two-and-a-half years worth of genre saturation since 2002’s Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child. Surprisingly, the group has distanced themselves from the mosh-oriented, metallic crunch of the previous release, opting for a more chaotic approach akin to Coalesce, Drowningman, and most obviously Botch. New vocalist Cory Brandan, while retaining a certain degree of Scogin’s distinctive delivery, notably spices up the proceedings with well-placed, gruff melodies. The band essentially beats you over the head for two tracks, throws you into a smattering of groove and radio-friendly choruses for one, and proceeds with this formula for the duration of the record. The group has upped the ante in every respect — opening with the most abrasive numbers, dropping a ten-minute epic in the middle of the album, and incorporating tasteful aspects of modern rock at a time when a group that sidesteps them entirely is commended for shafting the mainstream. Never afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve yet retaining a signature sound and developing the songwriting without succumbing to pretension, Norma Jean have successfully defied the dampening effects of a three year absence. Don’t miss out.

How did the writing process differ from 2002’s Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child? Drummer Daniel Davidson: It’s been a long time since we were writing Bless the Martyr, and I think over three years, we’ve all grown and changed a lot; and there’s two different guys in the band now. For both [records] we practiced every single day all day — we almost never practice on tour. [New vocalist] Cory would fly down to Atlanta from Arkansas once a month for two weeks; he contributed a lot to the record, guitar wise and vocally.

The new record seems vaguely apocalyptic in nature. How did the concept for O’ God come together? We didn’t set out to make a concept album or anything. We didn’t talk about running a common theme through it, although I’ve always thought those were cool; we just didn’t expect it to turn out like that. Even though we don’t call it a concept album or anything, it kind of turned out that way, which is weird because musically and lyrically we were all working on it together. We noticed common themes running through the lyrics during the recording process — I think a big one was deception, but we believe that there is hope through everything. It’s not a negative record by any means. (Solid State)