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Norma Jean - Wrongdoers Album Cover

Norma Jean - Wrongdoers

Reviewed by
8.0
Norma Jean- Wrongdoers
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Record Label: Razor & Tie
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
It would be fair to say that there has been a decline in the metalcore genre in recent years. While almost a decade ago you had bands like Underoath and Every Time I Die gaining steam and putting out stellar records, it has recently become harder to find new blood in the genre doing interesting things. On top of that, the aforementioned Underoath recently broke up and just last week seminal metalcore act The Chariot also called it quits. In a time where it seems like the old are on their way out and there are few bands ready to carry the torch, its reassuring that Norma Jean are still alive and kicking. Norma Jean have always been spoken in the same breath as Underoath and The Chariot due to their sonic similarities and religious subject matter, but unlike the two recently defunct bands, Norma Jean are still around and have put out their best album yet with Wrongdoers.

Similarly to The Chariot, Norma Jean have been able to sustain longevity in the metalcore scene by incorporating elements of hardcore and mathcore into their sound, and on Wrongdoers they take these influences to the extreme with songs that hit you so hard in a whirlwind of chaos that you're disoriented by the time they pass. Take “The Last Whistled Like A Singing Wind” for example, which opens up with a punishing wall of guitars and drums before taking a couple of left turns by the time its 1:10 run time is up. Frontman Cory Brandan's vocals cut through the mix with unrelenting force, perfectly complementing the aggression of the instrumentation. All of the other shorter songs on the album like “If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty” follow suit and show that even though the band is on LP number six, they're not holding anything back.

One of the things that Norma Jean has always been good at is mixing up the style throughout the album while still keeping a dark, aggressive core in the sound. On 2010's still excellent Meridional, they offered some of their heaviest music yet and some of their catchiest music yet, and Wrongdoers picks up right where that album left off. The first track on the album, “Hive Minds,” kicks things off with a build up into a heavy riff that wouldn't have sounded too out of place on Underoath's Disambiguation. While Brendan's vocals here never back down, the song locks into a groove around the 4-minute mark that shows this band isn't always set on one level. Likewise, “Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes” finds Brandan using mostly clean vocals, which are just as effective as his gut-wrenching screams. He has absolute prowess over the microphone, and his exemplary vocal skills put him right up there with Keith Buckley and Spencer Chamberlain as the best vocalists in the genre.

Album closer “Sun Dies, Blood Moon” alone is enough to make this an album stand out amongst the sea of generic metalcore out there. The 14-minute closer slowly builds and builds into one of the most crushing, devastating, and downright beautiful songs of the year, and the gradual fade out is the perfect release from the storm that was just endured. Wrongdoers grabs you by the throat from the start, and when it finally releases its grip you can't help but go back for more. In a genre that seems to be heading downhill in quality and popularity, Norma Jean pump enough blood into it with Wrongdoers to keep it going.

8/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 35
01:23 PM on 08/22/13
#2
xapplexpiex
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Totally agree with this review. Norma Jean is my favorite in the genre. I got into them with Anti Mother and loved them ever since. This is a lot heavier than Meridional, but still awesome.
01:26 PM on 08/22/13
#3
subplotofcrows
A Small Spark Vs. A Great Forest
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Good review with an accurate score. After gaining three new members, I lost a little faith in the band but when I first heard Wrongdoers it blew me away. Some of the best tunes of their career. Super heavy too.
01:28 PM on 08/22/13
#4
Zac Djamoos
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this is a good review
01:56 PM on 08/22/13
#5
texan4lif281
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Nice review, short and to the point.
02:08 PM on 08/22/13
#6
Symphonicaxiom
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Fantastic album. Nice review.
02:23 PM on 08/22/13
#7
ALT/MSC/FAN
Everything's Coming Up Milhouse
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Solid review, Jake. Never took you for a Norma Jean fan.
02:24 PM on 08/22/13
#8
Quijiba
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This is an unbelievable album, definitely happy that 3 new members didn't hurt them. Redeemer was always my favorite album by them but Wrongdoers has certainly surpassed it for me
02:27 PM on 08/22/13
#9
Jake Jenkins
https://twitter.com/jakej654
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Solid review, Jake. Never took you for a Norma Jean fan.
I'm full of surprises!
02:37 PM on 08/22/13
pepster50
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never listened to this band this album is fuckin killer !
02:44 PM on 08/22/13
WeltallAY
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Long time NJ fan, but I'd be surprised if this was not their last release. They have always been a quality band (but nothing will ever top O' God and Bless for me) but it seems time.
02:54 PM on 08/22/13
Supernovacaine
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album slays, i'd call it their best and most diverse effort yet
02:57 PM on 08/22/13
esperotic
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I had thought they'd never put out anything that could touch 'O'god the aftermath' for me, and while stylistically it's different, this new album is badass on so many levels. Thank you norma jean, thank you
03:12 PM on 08/22/13
PetitnaindesÎles
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This is an unbelievable album, definitely happy that 3 new members didn't hurt them. Redeemer was always my favorite album by them but Wrongdoers has certainly surpassed it for me
Samesies, people kept praising Meridional when it came out but it didn't have any lasting value whereas Wrongdoers just blow it out of the water. Also, it's the first Cory era-NJ album in which his clean vocals never sound out of place to me. Such a cohesive and diverse album.
03:21 PM on 08/22/13
Quijiba
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Samesies, people kept praising Meridional when it came out but it didn't have any lasting value whereas Wrongdoers just blow it out of the water. Also, it's the first Cory era-NJ album in which his clean vocals never sound out of place to me. Such a cohesive and diverse album.
same, I mean "Day Seven" is probably my favourite Norma Jean song but overall Meridonial doesn't have the same lasting value as Wrongdoers for me

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