Related artists: The Chariot, Holy+Gold, Spitfire, Living Sacrifice, Eso-Charis, Every Time I Die, Whores, Color Revolt and '68.
Country: Douglasville, Georgia USA
Years Active: 1997-present
Song: "Organized Beyond Recognition"
Album: "Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child"
For fans of: Botch, The Chariot, Lavotchkin, Birch, Beneath The Ashes, Thumbscrew, Nionde Plågan, In Reverent Fear, Hopesfall, Swarm Of The Lotus, Cold Craving, Poison The Well, Circles Over Sidelights, .gif from god, Training For Utopia, Arcana Cain, Into The Moat, Llynch, Officer Jones And His Patrol Car Problems, The Minor Times, .Crrust and Underoath.
Label(s): Solid State / Golf / Tooth And Nail Records / EMI / Abacus Recordings / Universal Music Special Markets / Century Media / Suburban Home Records / Stomp / Razor & Tie / Pluto Records
This post's artist is from the June 2016 Mix. This is track #12.
This post's artist is from the June 2016 Mix. This is track #12.
Let's be honest, David. If this was 2006-2007 I would be writing a very long and in depth review. Fortunately/Unfortunately the material released by NORMA JEAN after the 2006 'Redeemer' album simply just didn't do anything for me. In actuality, I found myself actually disliking the band more and more. So, we'll do a little two-parter for this review and I'll do my best to keep it quick, concise and honest. Before we begin it should be noted that NORMA JEAN:
- used to be called LUTI-KRISS when they were way more nu-metal (aka listening to early Deftones)...and were not nearly as good
- has always been religious and I know that religion is one of the worst inventions ever created (aka fuck that shit)
- doesn't like people downloading their music and have been very vocal about it
- make a ton of music videos
- have shuffled around quite a few members
- used to sound a lot like Botch
- have gotten progressively worse as the years have gone on (subjective, of course, but my steadfast opinion)
PART 1: The Good YearsIn 2003 or 2004 I first heard "Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste" after shying away from the album 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child' for a few years due to the cover looking really dark and overtly metal. After finally jamming that shit I was in love. Botch broke up in 2002 and this was now the closest thing I had to amazing, mathy, metallic hardcore. The album is truly an exceptional piece of work with a plethora of great songs, the primary cuts being the obvious "Memphis Shall Be Laid to Waste", "The Entire World Is Counting on Me, and They Don't Even Know It" (with its stop/start breakdowns and massive screams that destroy everything after the one-minute mark and subsequent riffing at 1:45), "Creating Something Out Of Nothing" (gets fucking prodigious only 15 seconds in and three minutes the unreal breakdown with Josh screaming, "It's like bringing a knife to a gunfight" which has to go down as one of the best parts of any NORMA JEAN song), "I Used to Hate Cell Phones but Now I Hate Car Accidents" (a pummeling experience, especially on the drums, at one-minute in and a very climactic ending at 4:13) and "Organized Beyond Recognition". "Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste" showcases the talents of all musicians involved but Josh Scogin, simply put, is a fucking machine. His screams vary all over the place from high pitched shrieks to low, gutteral bellowing. This masterpiece begins with a scream followed by an awesome intro riff which begins laying waste to the listener a mere 13 seconds in. At 40 seconds a somber interlude slyly slides in until 1:41 when one of biggest breakdowns I've had the pleasure of listening to hits and pulverizes the listener with multiple vocalists screaming and chugs to the fucking max. At 2:52 another breakdown crushes until the final, almost spoken word/yelled outro from 3:52 onward. Like I said, a metalcore masterpiece fer sure. "Organized Beyond Recognition" is the closer and although Scogin shines yet again (the delivery of "Let's just face the facts and get back to the basic form," early on in the track is a great example), it's the instrumentals and their building, climatic, cohesive and energy inducing transitions and breakdowns of epic proportions. I must also mention the unreal ending with the lyrics, "White tie, black jacket. I ain't seen you in a while. Your whites shine, black velvet. I ain't seen you in a while. You're slick, a slick and polished mess. I ain't seen you in a while".
Following the release of the first NORMA JEAN record, Josh Scogin left the band and started The Chariot. This was huge news at the time (2003/2004) and Josh discussed his leaving in an interview here. The band recruited Cory who took over on the 2005 release of 'O'God The Aftermath' and initially I was very happy with how everything was sounding. The vocals were still very heavy but a flicker of melodic singing could be found on a few tracks, which worked out in the band's favour on this particular release. The instrumentals were even better than on the debut LP and had taken on a huge Botch vibe (they had had a bit of one before, but this was blatant) with very techy and mathy metallic hardcore. In fact, on the Botch reunion DVD the band jokes on the commentary track, "Hey, I think this is the new Norma Jean song." Nevertheless, Botch wasn't around anymore I needed my fix, so I succumbed to this record. Listening back to it now is still nostalgic, but I do believe for the most part the record holds up to its original glory, although perhaps not as much so as 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child'. I must also say that I do enjoy the song titles that combine two words into one, with some pretty cool examples being "Coffinspire", "Charactarantula" and "Scientifiction". The album as a whole is better than 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child', but the fantastic songs on the 2002 release eclipse any single song on here. My favourite tracks include "Murderotica- An Avalanche in D Minor" (is this the bonus track from 'Anthology of Dead Ends'?), "Bayonetwork- Vultures in Vivid Color" (so Botch, with a melodic chorus), "Shaunluu" (the special edition-only track that injects a lot of slower instrumentals and end up sounding a bit like The Bled with some atmospheric interludes), "Coffinspire- Multitudes, Multitudes in the Valley of Decision" (1:46, holy moly), "Disconnecktie- The Faithful Vampire" (a slow, driving and epic affair that eclipses 10 minutes), "Absentimental- Street Clam" (Booooooooootch) and "Scientifiction- I. A Clot of Tragedy-II. A Swarm of Dedication" (a relatively lengthy closer that gets pretty dang awesome at 3:47).
The very next year NORMA JEAN released 'Redeemer' which is where things started to go awry. This is actually a pretty decent metallic hardcore record and an engaging followup to 'O'God The Aftermath', but the imminent change becomes much more apparent here...or maybe that's just in hindsight. Anyways, the jammers here include "A Grand Scene for a Color Film" (a decent opener with a lot of screams almost veering into clean territory and a killer ending of, "Just what are you trying to say?"), "Blueprints for Future Homes" (which include some decent melodic vocals amidst a lot of heaviness and could be likened to "Bayonetwork" from the 2005 LP), "A Small Spark vs. a Great Forest" (an eerie opening gives way to pretty catchy choruses and bigass breakdowns, especially at the end), "A Temperamental Widower" (a short burst of rolling, metallic hardcore lead by, "We're not gonna take it!"), "The End of All Things Will Be Televised" (the best song on the LP and closest thing to the Scogin-era sound) and "Amnesty Please" (a song that I think would have worked really well as a closer, for it has an epic, closing feel to it). A very good album, but a step back from their 2002 and 2005 releases.
PART 2: The Not-So Good Years
NORMA JEAN released 'The Anti Mother' in 2008, 'Meridional' in 2010 and 'Wrongdoers' in 2013. Maybe the releases aren't all that different from the 2005-2006 material and I just evolved in my musical tastes. Maybe they just aren't that good. I'd assume there's a mixture of the two, but that'll be different for everyone - especially those that enjoy the latter half of the band's existence. As you can see, I have only posted music videos for the later releases because I don't particularly enjoy going through them to find the best songs. Call it laziness. Call it efficiency. Take your pick, it all sounds kinda cheesy and forced to me. There's also the band's anti-download post that had Cory sounding kinda like Lars. So I'm not going to post a full discography lest their corporate lawyers sue my ass, so fuck that shit. They will also be releasing 'Polar Similar' on September 9th, 2016 and have released "1,000,000 Watts" which sounds like NORMA JEAN meets Every Time I Die. Nah.
What I have done is included what I consider to be the NORMA JEAN essentials from 2002-2006 as a wma download right heeeeya.
NORMA JEAN final conclusion? I dunno. I like their old stuff. Their new stuff is okay but pales in comparison, according to this guy.
1997 - Travail split (released as LUTI-KRISS)
2000 - 5ep EP (released as LUTI-KRISS)
2001 - Throwing Myself LP (released as LUTI-KRISS)
2002 - Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child cdLP
2002 - mewithoutyou split 7"EP
2002 - Beloved split (released as LUTI-KRISS)
2005 - O'God The Aftermath cd/12"LP
2006 - Redeemer cdLP
2008 - The Anti Mother cd/12"LP
2008 - The Almighty Norma Jean Limited Edition Vinyl Boxset 2x12"/4x12"LP
2010 - Meridional cd/2x12"LP
2010 - Birds and Microscopes and Bottles of Elixirs and Raw Steak and a Bunch of Songs 3xcd (contains 2002-2006 material)
2013 - Wrongdoers cd/12"LP
2013 - Ahhh! Shark Bite Ahhh! 3"single
2016 - Polar Similar cd/2x12"LP
(2002) NORMA JEAN - "Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste" (from 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child')
(2002) NORMA JEAN - "Organized Beyond Recognition" (from 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child')
(2002) NORMA JEAN - "Creating Something Out of Nothing" (from 'Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child')
(2005) NORMA JEAN - "Absentimenal: Street Clam" (from 'O'God, the Aftermath') official music video
(2005) NORMA JEAN - "Shanluu" (from 'O'God, the Aftermath - Special Edition')
(2006) NORMA JEAN - "Songs Sound Much Sadder" (from 'Redeemer') official music video
(2008) NORMA JEAN - "Robots 3 Humas 0" (from 'The Anti Mother') official music video
(2010) NORMA JEAN - "Bastardizer" (from 'Meridional') official music video
(2013) NORMA JEAN - "Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes" (from 'Wrongdoers') official music video
(2013) NORMA JEAN - "If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty" (from 'Wrongdoers') official music video
(2016) NORMA JEAN - "1,000,000 Watts" (from 'Polar Similar')
NORMA JEAN additional links