REVIEW: NORMA JEAN – WRONGDOERS

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Reviewed by Mark Plummer
With summer in full flow, everyone is in need of that album to facilitate their summer time ramblings; usually packed with light hearted-ness and those quirky yet catchy hooks, it’d be all to easy to assume that the heavier side of music can’t have a release that begs for the sunshine.  Taking that into account, one of the first things that springs to mind on first impressions of the new Norma Jean record is how much I want to be out at a festival, under the summer Sun, soaking up the atmosphere and music to go with it.On a casual first inspection, the ferocity and swift-footed approach that Wrongdoers encompasses is a tribute to what this band have been achieving throughout their musical careers.  Opener Hive Minds is a surprisingly long introduction, the prominent bass is a real stroke of fortune, being able to hear the clarity in this instrument helps to add a certain charm to how Norma Jean have worked this first track; to have pace and integrity whilst lasting upwards of six minutes.

Title track Wrongdoers is the first chance that listeners get to hear a slightly less brutal approach to the assertive vocals, adding a certain reprieve after two and a half tracks of full-on vocal attack.  The further this track goes, the more diversity can be found. A whammy pedal sits somewhere in the back ground, making fleeting and subtle appearances and feeling very Tom Morello in substance.  Whilst bands with one vocalist can wear thin in inspiration from time to time, Norma Jean appear to combat this with their approach to each track as being an individual – giving the listener something different to pick up on for each song by adding more adventure.

Triffids starts with a trebly set of octave notes before a delay laden guitar enters and the song finally kicks in.  As the chorus hits, the screaming attack falls away for a more robust approach that serves the need to keep Triffids interesting whilst not taking away from the overall pace.

There is another, more fascinating aspect of this release, that makes Wrongdoers such a triumph;  the differing array of musical styles intertwines throughout the album with great success.  To begin with the metal routes are all but clear, with If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty feeling like a long lost Slipknot classic, yet further down the line the record evolves further, exploring punk roots as well as nu-metal and helping to mould a great all round release that still holds true to how it all started back at this releases opening.  It’s this side of Norma Jean that should work as both a buffer and encouragement for any new fans to the band, helping to draw them in and showcase an appreciation for what has inspired them.  All in all, this is an intelligent and brilliant release.

4 out of 5

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