Record Label: Razor & Tie Records
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Reviewed By: Patrick McQuaid
The past few years have not been kind to metalcore fans. Momentous metalcore bands such as Underoath, Bleeding Through, and The Chariot have called it quits (or are in the process of quitting) and worse is, the genre is beginning to become overcrowded with bland, cliche, and contrived artists. Well, Norma Jean’s Wrongdoers is here to punch you in the stomach and tell you to stop worrying about the fate of metalcore. It’s been three years since Meridional and Norma Jean have kept busy creating one of their finest, most memorable albums yet. Dare I say it, Wrongdoers may very well be a masterpiece
The opening track “Hive Minds” slowly builds with a bedlam of static and electronic beeping before erupting into a groovy bass riff courtesy of John Finnegan. Few bands can pull off an introduction track that is six minutes and forty seconds long, but Norma Jean do it with finesse and ease, while effortlessly transitioning the listener to the audio assault that is “If You’ve Got It At Five, Then You Got It At Fifty.”
Wrongdoers is full of excellent transitions that provide the album with a sense of cohesion, even when Norma Jean inject some variety into the mix. Look no further than the one-two punch that is “Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes” and “Afterhour Animals” for a prime example. Taken separately “Afterhour Animals” would seem out of place, but when combined with “Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes” the effect is chilling to the bone. It is subtle moments like these that propel Wrongdoers from being great, to being a masterpiece of the band’s craft.
Norma Jean’s craft is their excellent instrumentation, which shines throughout Wrongdoers. “The Potter Has No Hands,” has this shrilling guitar that enhances the verse, sounding like something Tom Morello would write if he were ever in a metalcore band. The title track “Wrongdoers” shows off Clayton Holyoak’s exceptional drumming proving the former Fear Before member makes an excellent addition to Norma Jean. While the fourteen minute closer is a showcase for Brandon Cory Putnams vocal ability.
Wrongdoers could be recommended alone for the sheer amount of energy and emotion present in this album. However, it is the bands superb instrumentation, masterful transitions, and the albums sense of cohesion that propel the album from great, to must hear. While pretty damn near flawless, the album takes a few listens to really digest, and begs to be listened to all the way through. Albeit the minor shortcoming, Wrongdoers is Norma Jean giving it all they have. It is the band with a gun to their head with the assailant demanding they deliver their finest effort, and they delivered.
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10
Norma Jean is:
Chris Day – Guitar
Cory Brandan – Vocals
Jeff Hickey – Guitar
Clayton “Goose” Holyoak – Drums
John Finnegan- Bass