We all know this. Stuff is starting to blend together. This is admittedly a low point in the genre. Sophomre albums aren’t getting any better: the days of coalesce, classic dillinger, and converge are ways away. We’ve got a new genre that encompasses about 75% of the releases out there: “Screamo”. It’s a terrible label, but we’ve got to face it, it’s there. It encompasses everything from Glass and Ashes incredible album “Aesthetic Arrest” to some band far past any sort of prime, a.k.a The Used. Drop us off at the heavier edge for one of the most important and ground-breaking bands in the genre: Norma Jean.
Previously known as Luti-Kriss, switching singers and bassists (I believe), the band has emerged from BTM,KTC which will go down in history as one of the most devastating hardcore albums of the last ten years to this new piece: O God, The Aftermath.
As a huge fan all the way from the LK days, this release was almost as important as my 19th birthday (O canada…). After purchasing it, I threw it on and was quickly greeted with a track that had me in awe. Murderotica gets to the point and beats you up very quickly. But nonetheless, it was different, there was less definition in the instruments, the guitars had lost that finely tuned distortion that was sharp and punching, there were less earth-moving breakdowns that could keep you dazed, the vocals were a little more hollowed out, but it still sounded like NJ. Continuing on, after hitting track 4, you start to get worried. Where did the devastation go? No, it’s not nearly as heavy, it’s just more dulled down and less noticeable. They do manage to salvage their way out with Absentimental, but they should never have to
Bottom line is this: Norma Jean lost its edge, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t own over half the genre when it comes to energy and lyrical prowess. They can still hammer off the memorable breakdowns (See and Liarsenic at 1:43 and Absentimental at 2:39), they can still hold a dangerous atmosphere over your head (Disconnecktie echoes the legendary 15:49 Pretty Soon… from BTM but doesn’t quite meet the standards), and lyrically they still write better than a very large chunk of the artists out there (See whole CD). This album is worth buying, no doubt about that, but remember, don’t expect the same artist between albums ever again, for any artist.