Best Metal Album of 2010?

Jeffrey Krause is a cool dude. He writes and performs music, loves Jesus, and is a family man extraordinaire. Not to mention, he is the United States’ foremost metal authority… well, he and Riki Rachtman.

Here you will find that Jeff is also a fantastic writer. In the below review of the newest Norma Jean release, you will find that like most of my guest writers, he’s much better than me. So, enjoy yourself for a change!

Norma Jean has been a longstanding member of the metal community. Dating back to their days with Tooth & Nail metal sub-label Solid State Records under the name Luti-Kriss, they have been a juggernaut of metal goodness. Meridional continues that trend, showing the band to be hitting on all cylinders once again.

Meridional launches right out of the gate with the aggressiveness of a predator on the opening track “Leaderless & Self Enlisted”. What is worthy of noting here is that the album progresses through the track listing with near-perfection, as any good album will do. Some albums these days sound less flowing, and more like a collection of songs thrown together randomly. That’s not the case here, as NJ perfectly molds each track for the listener with the appropriate level of rage and melody, making the album bob and weave through a variety of tempos, technicality, and pace that keep the listener interested and waiting for the next step.

Also obvious here is the broad approach the band took, shining through in tracks like “Deathbed Atheist” and “High Noise Low Output” (perhaps due to their time with Chino Moreno or Helmet’s Page Hamiliton during The Anti-Mother sessions). NJ isn’t afraid to throw some sing-screaming, or even straight singing into the mix, and it works, in a big way. Some may see this as a loss of metal “edge”; to the contrary, I think the thing that makes a metal band stand out in 2010 is their ability to take some risk and stretch themselves. NJ has done so here, and it brings even more continuity and flow to the overall album. What they accomplish through this stretching is what keeps them from being just another metalcore ripoff band.

Musically, NJ is as solid as ever. These guys have been doing this together for a long time, and it shows. Writing songs with multiple members is no small or easy task, but the musical component of NJ is so solid and tight (both here, as well as live on their recent stint with the Mayhem Fest), it sets them apart from the typical metalcore chugfest that seems to pervade metal today. Vocally, Cory Brandan’s range, screaming style, and ability to bring melody into his sing-screaming is amazing, and should be taken note of; many-a-vocalist could stand to take a lesson from Cory’s vocals on Meridional. They are solid, powerful, and in your face.

2008’s The Anti-Mother was thought by some (including myself) to be one of NJ’s best albums up to that point. While I still think it is an amazing release, what I found here was that the band continues to grow, mature, and stretch and challenge themselves to be better without totally reinventing themselves with every release.

If you haven’t picked up Meridional yet, do yourself a favor and get it. If you don’t you could be missing out on one of the best metal albums of 2010.


~ by thepaintedman on August 29, 2010.

One Response to “Best Metal Album of 2010?”

  1. […] Jeffrey Krause is a cool dude. He typically reviews music for sites much more reputable than this… but… today we luck out. […]

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