Being fortunate enough to catch a bunch of their shows on their most recent Australian tour, it was clear to me that the new Norma Jean album Wrongdoers was going to be huge.
Recorded by Josh Barber and mixed by Jeremy Griffith, the production of this album is top notch, and definitely my favourite of any heavy release this year. The guitar work of Chris Day & Jeff Hickey sits perfectly in the mix, with the low, crushing riffs punching you in the stomach and the dissonant leads tearing through. NJ have always made great riffage that makes you want to air guitar and jump off things, and this is absolutely the case with Wrongdoers, especially on tracks “If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty” and “Triffids”. New bass player John Finnegan is a great addition to the band, providing huge tones and even some key bass riffs, prevalent in opening track “Hive Minds”.
Corey Putman has one of those voices like no other, its brutal as hell and he can sing melody without taking away from the heavy tone of the band, all with great diction as well. His voice just gets stronger with each release. A big stand out track for Corey is “The Lash Whistled Like A Singing Wind”, absolutely throat tearing stuff.
But here is the big secret to the hectic, seamless and cohesive sound to Wrongdoers: the drumming. Clayton “Goose” Holyoak (formerly of Fear Before The March Of Flames) has brought his own thing to the table, but unlike previous attempts to stray from the Redeemer style, this one actually works. New to Norma Jean are fast punk/ d-beats and some very impressive kicks, mixed in with the half time, syncopation and huge build-ups that Norma Jean is famous for.
The last few years have been a rollercoaster for seminal hardcore and rock bands, with acts such as Thursday, Poison The Well & Thrice calling it a day, whilst others such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Deftones and Converge releasing their best work to date. Norma Jean have definitely followed the path of the latter, creating an amazing album start to finish, which is a perfect culmination of everything that makes Norma Jean one of the most loved heavy bands of the last 15 years. From the raw, dissonance of their first two albums, to the melodic vocals and clever structures of their later work, NJ have created an album that is sure to please fans of all eras.
Out August 6 on Razor & Tie.