Norma Jean are that weird beast : a metalcore band that still seems relevent this present day and age. I got introduced to metal through metalcore and deathcore, but my interests quickly turned towards the more interesting, intricate metalgenre’s, like death, doom, sludge and black. But Norma Jean has always had a special place in my heart, and they seemed to get more interesting each album. Now their new one has dropped, and it’s once again an exhilirating listen.
Now, to be fair, I only really started paying attention to them when Meridional dropped, their 5th album. I listened to their older stuff afterwards, but always thought they had just gotten better on their last albums, sounding more cohesive, having found their sound and being as good as they could possibly be.
They reaffirm that sentiment on Polar Similar. It sounds tight, heavy and focused. Their sound was always their biggest strength, since they weren’t pigeonholing themselves in the “metalcore standards”. They never sound like copies of themselves, utilising all kinds of genres ( some sludge, some prog, some blues, etc) to form a sound distinctly Norma Jean.
They also have a unique factor : their singer Cory Brandan. He’s one of the few singers that can pull of clean vocals without instantly sounding sappy or downright terrible. He can put the necessary emotions in all songs, is it screaming or not. It’s a really nice attribute to have, and once again he displays his vocal prowess here.
My favourite song is Reaction. Those blastbeats in the verse are irresistable, and when he sings “I just want a reaction” at the end, you know he means it. Plus, the solo at the end of the song just tops it all off. It’s an addition that most metalcore bands would just omit to mindlessly chug, and that’s why Norma Jean are just better. Glorious stuff, and it must sound awesome live.
To recap : a great album, and it seems like the natural progression for the band. If you were a fan, that’s not going to change, and if you’re knew to them, this is as good a place to start as any. Another thriumph from a fantastic band.