Norma Jean Get Uglier

Norma Jean Get Uglier
Atlanta metalcore trailblazers Norma Jean are doing the exact opposite of what their peers are doing — on the excellent Wrongdoers, the band's sixth album, they're getting noisier and uglier. Amongst the metallic hardcore and feedback-drenched metalcore is rag-tag sludge metal, all barely held together by a raw production. And that melodic singing isn't what you'd expect. The strained, yelled crooning is just getting harsher and more violent with every album, while the radio-ready metalcore bands of 2013 continue to drop melodic choruses with hopes of sweeping young fans off their feet.

"We're scaring them away," laughs singer Cory Putman. "But melody has always been something I've loved in heavy music. There's a time for singing or melody, depending on the emotion behind it. Some parts are meant to be yelled, some parts are meant to be gut-wrenchingly sung, passionately."

The album, which, amazingly, features three new members yet sounds exactly like how the follow-up to 2010's Meridional should, ends off in a particularly ugly fashion, with a wonderfully raw and under-produced instrumental sludge metal track as an unlisted bonus cut.

"We thought, 'Let's put a mic in the room and put it on the record, for fun.' As much time as we spent making this record sound good, that was like, dude, just put a mic in the room and let's just do this," laughs Putman. "That's the way I want to do it."

That time investment ("We spent two-and-a-half months just making sure every tone was right") created a wonderful, natural, crashing sound that complements the music's spontaneous and, at times, downright sloppy feel. "There's a human being playing that instrument, not a computer," says Putman. "It's rock'n'roll, you know what I mean? Sweaty, nasty rock'n'roll, just like Led Zeppelin did it, just like Jimi Hendrix did it. Norma Jean love that, that human connection that music's supposed to have."