Released: August Genre: Metalcore Metacritic rating: 85%
There’s no denying that Norma Jean are very good at what they do, which you’d expect after ten years and six albums, despite a number of personnel changes preceding Wrongdoers. Instead of the changes presenting an issue, the bands sixth studio album showed exactly how good they are, being one of this year’s strongest albums, not just in their genre. From start to finish Norma Jean provide an almost unrelenting barrage of excellent metalcore. Wrongdoers is everything the genre should aspire to be, being memorable, melodic, manic, heavy and incredibly technical. Take tracks like opener ‘Hive Minds’ and ‘Funeral Singer’, two of 2013’s best alternative tracks. Each roars and buckles with absolute ferocity bar brief catchy reprises, showcasing some of the bands best work to date. Cory Brandan excels vocally and the rest of the band delivering crushing riff after crushing riff and rarely pause to catch their breath. The drumming in particular on Wrongdoers is some of the most intricate and dynamic I’ve ever heard, and the bass in the opener is sublime. Closer ‘Sun Dies, Blood Moon’ is a mammoth epic, capping an album that only improves the more it’s listened to. Wrongdoers is an assault on the senses in the best possible way and if your ears aren’t ringing after finishing it you haven’t done it justice. This is an album to play at full volume and flip tables to. It’s also incredibly well written, with the band still progressing in terms of songwriting. For me it’s been miles ahead of the majority of heavy releases this year, bar one which I’ll cover in a few days. It’s everything I wanted from a Norma Jean album and more, and I couldn’t praise it enough when I reviewed it earlier in the year. Incredible.