So I was suffering from a case of musical ADD yesterday, and while I was jumping from album to album I stumbled upon a pretty heavy band named Norma Jean. From what I know, these guys are pretty intense. So I decide to sit down and take a listen to their 11-track album Meridional. Well here it goes, 67 minutes of someone yelling at me, let’s do this.
It’s been 10 minutes and I haven’t played the first track because I can’t seem to figure out what’s going on in the album cover. An elephant giving birth to a human through his trunk? Another elephant taunting some wolves with a jellyfish? I am SO confused.
Opening track “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” started strong, I dug the first verse and the chorus is an awesomely catchy and strong mix of yelling and singing vocals. After that first chorus though, the song seemed to go downhill; essentially adding 2 more lines to the first verse and then running through the whole thing again. For all it’s crazy riffage and heaviness, this song really just kind of sputters out and leaves only that catchy chorus stuck in your head.
“The Anthem of the Angry Brides” is the next track on the album; extraneously, I accidentally read it as “The Anthem of the Angry BIRDS” the first two times I listened to it. At 2:33 this song was over before I even knew it started, and when you consider the hyper-spastic mathcore-esq guitar work, that’s so hard to focus on, you get a song with so much going on it just zooms right past you; but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a listen. From the bass intro (unexpected) to the ever-so-fancy guitar this is definitely a passable track.
“Bastardizer” in my opinion is a lot like “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” in the sense that it’s utterly forgettable with just one or two saving graces. In this case that saving grace is an out-of-the-blue punky drum intro, that lasts all of 3 seconds. The outro of the song should also get an honorable mention because it is pretty original, other than that though, I’ve already forgotten everything about it.
Okay here we go, song five, “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” one word, three syllables, BEAU-TI-FUL. This song has everything that every other song was missing, it’s understandable for one, and feels like it has more structure than the others. It also stays true to what Norma Jean seems to be all about, it still has an awesome lead and the lyrics still don’t make any sense to me, but I know that in this song there’s more of them, so at least there isn’t so much repetition and a lot more: “They provide their nectar and then I am released. I am a grain of sand underneath the floor and so far out of reach, but I am safe from harm. Against this shelter they are always hammering, against these ears they are always deafening.” whatever that means; and the breakdown at the end of the song is more than heavy enough to do it’s job, overall, my favorite song so far.
Interlude time, “Septentrional” is about a minute and a half of white noise that sounds like ocean waves, and about half way in it’s accompanied by some chanting that I can assume was really awkward for their producer to record. Other than that, not much else to it, moving along.
Track seven is titled “Blood Burner” so I know before I even start it to prepare, since it’s probably going to melt my face.
Turns out that it did melt my face, but in the end, that’s all that it did. There’s no two ways around it I just don’t like this song. It doesn’t contribute to the album musically, I still don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, and it’s just not a track that sticks in my mind for any reason whatsoever, other than being a track that doesn’t stick in my mind.
Take everything I said about “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” multiply by two and you have “High Noise Low Output” I wouldn’t be able to fit all the praise I feel this song deserves onto this post. The big difference between “High Noise Low Output” and “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” is that the former seems geared more towards fans of more complex music, on the account of the random start-stops and drum and guitar technicality that “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” doesn’t have. Regardless though, both songs are at this point the best on the album.
“Falling from the sky, day one. You never learned to fly. Falling into the ocean, day seven. You never learned to swim.” I start the review of “Falling from the Sky: Day Seven” with lyrics from the song because I can actually tell you what it’s about and I think that deserves some lyrical homage. This six minute masterpiece is the albums necessary down tempo tune all about how some atheist is going to hell because he doesn’t believe in God “Your death will bring you all the answers that you’ve been looking for.” Personally I don’t believe it, but it’s still a well written song, lyrically and musically, and a breathe of fresh air from all the yelling and loud noise on the rest of the album.
“Everlasting Tapeworm” is another song just like “Basterdizer” it’s easily forgettable with the exception of some odd, but good, lap steel guitar work in the verses. That’s really all there is to it. On to the last track in this hour long journey.
“Occidental” is an instrumental outro to the album with some gibberish spouted here and there, and honestly, I’m relieved. As for the song itself, I don’t see it’s purpose in the album and maybe if I could make out what that gibberish is then the track would be more significant, but I can’t, so so much for that.
Overall, I thought I liked this band, turns out that they write the kind of songs I would love to hear at a live show, fast, strong, yelling, all that good stuff. In Album form though, it just doesn’t have the same affect on me. Most of the songs are forgettable and it’s hard for me to tell them apart from each other, I can’t understand the lyrics and when I look them up I still don’t understand what they mean. It seems like the songs are just like the album as a whole, forgettable, with a few gems that all in all, can’t save a broken album.
- A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse
- High Noise Low Output
Go Kill With Fire:
- Blood Burner
[Note]: I still have no idea what’s going on with that album cover.