Norma Jean Progress to Primitive

Norma Jean Progress to Primitive
For Meridional, their fifth album, Atlanta metalcore trailblazers Norma Jean took a sharp left turn away from the hotshot producer (Ross Robinson) and big-name guest appearances (Deftones' Chino Moreno, Helmet's Page Hamilton) that helped define their last disc, 2008's The Anti Mother. What resulted is an abrasive-sounding album that is as chest-thumpingly heavy as it is progressive. "We wanted it this way because we felt like this record was going to turn out raw," says guitarist Chris Day. "We didn't mind just doing it with a friend in our home town; we thought it would be comfortable and fun. It turned out better than we ever thought."

The secret to their sonic success was speed; they spent about a month recording it, a third of the time that The Anti Mother took. Where the band went wrong was hyping the new album in pre-release interviews as being a "return to their roots." That cliché is inappropriate for Meridional, an album that ― despite the throwback in recording techniques ― finds the band stepping forward, with loose energetic metal and ambitious melodic hardcore finally finding a way to work together in gloriously chaotic harmony. "I think the main point of that statement was that our attitude toward songwriting was going back to our roots," explains Day. "We didn't care to write a certain kind of record or go in any specific direction. It was more of an attitude thing."