Norma Jean Redeemer

Oft-criticised for their perceived plagiarism of Coalesce and Botch, among others, and critically banished to the overpopulated realm of "generic scene metalcore,” Norma Jean nonetheless persevere. Redeemer finds the group (seemingly) attempting to settle on a style, which rests somewhere in between the kinetic rumble of their debut and the caustic quirkiness of 2005’s follow up, O’ God, The Aftermath. More attention has been paid to vocalist Cory Brandan’s clean Southern drawl, as hooky choruses are not only more frequent but arguably stronger than on past releases. The mosh quotient has clearly increased, as tracks like "The End Of All Things Will Be Televised” deliver some of the gnarliest pit riffs the group have ever penned. While the all-out aggression of O’ God has no doubt been tempered, it renders the album more spontaneous and relaxed in tone, reinforced by the gritty production job. Unfortunately, it also comes off a bit rushed, lacking the polish and precision which made O’ God an invariably solid listen. All things considered, though the elitists may whine, Norma Jean play circles around most of the competition, and have yet to offer a mediocre record in the face of numerous line-up changes, critical badgering and a songwriting style that shifts dramatically with each release. (Solid State)