Nearly two years after putting out their last album and introducing a new vocalist, Australia's Northlane have released a surprise album titled Mesmer. The fourth album from the metalcore heavyweights builds on the cleaner direction of the last album while still pulling off crushingly heavy breakdowns, clean progressions and off-kilter rhythms.
Northlane put vocalist Marcus Bridge's vocal range to good use on Mesmer, alternating between radio-friendly choruses and raw, aggressive screams seamlessly. Bridge's lyrics digs into deeply emotional topics, covering subjects such as public freedom, anxiety and loss of life with equally intense instrumentation to back it up.
The band have vastly improved as a unit since their debut album, employing more ambiance in their progressive moments and focusing less on driving songs with breakdowns, as many metalcore bands do. While Northlane still pull off the low and slow breakdowns listeners have come to expect, the calming clean sections are where the songs have become much more complex and nuanced. Tracks such as "Fade" and "Render" show the growth Northlane have undergone, with a focus on the melodic aspects of their sound.
Despite the strong focus on melody, though, Mesmer still has plenty of heavy moments. Tracks like "Colourwave" and album closer "Paragon" (about late Architects guitarist Tom Searle) are rife with technical prowess and in-your-face heaviness.
By the album's end, certain songs start to become mechanical sounding in the heavier sections, and muddle together somewhat repetitively, marring the whole somewhat. But in general, Mesmer is an evolution for Northlane that greatly improves on their melodic and progressive aspects. (UNFD)