Norma Jean – Wrongdoers

wrongdoers

Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
Razor & Tie
August 6, 2013

What It Sounds Like:  In my mind, the most defined and solid Norma Jean record to date, splitting hardcore with heavy grooves into a record worthy of the genre.

Unhand the knife drawer
And please replace the moon with the sun.

I know it’s hell to hope the feeling of knowing destruction isn’t forever
Take it or leave it.

We make love to the same mistakes and never get tired.
Embrace the lover
Make yourself comfortable.

Whatever keeps me up.
So fine, take this love and be gone
I’m done.

My relationship with Norma Jean is a pretty consistent one.  Every two years or so, we go out on a date, and I enjoy her company.  She never wows me to the point of utter fascination throughout the whole evening, but at various points she’ll suddenly start talking about how she wants to write A Grand Scene For A Color Film or her aspirations to be a Self Employed Chemist, or how she believes that The End Of All Things Will Be Televised.  She’ll starting painting me a picture of Vultures In Vivid Color, and I’ll be more than pleased.

Then sometimes, she’ll simply just drop a bomb on Memphis and lay that place to waste, and I’ll sit there in a trace, fascinated by her beauty.

I went out with her again a couple Tuesdays ago.

I’ve gotta tell you, at the first glance of her face this year, I almost wondered if this was the same girl that I knew in the past.  I mean, skeleton gloves?  Whiteout blotches in her eyes?  I thought someone may have forgotten to tell her that I wasn’t fourteen, and the Hot Topic look doesn’t really do it for me anymore.  She looked much much better with a crow on her shoulder biting her finger, or with a swarm of hornets on her, or even if she was hanging out of the head of an elephant.

But after actually talking to her and getting to know her again, I’ve have to say – I’m fairly confident that this may have been our very best date (or at least, even a better date) since the one we went on back in 2006.

Let’s get into Wrongdoers for just a minute.  I am supposed to review the record, am I not?

Wrongdoers splits the difference between Norma Jean’s most melodic, and heaviest/chaotic work to date.  The blistering hardcore punk of The Lash Whistled Like A Singing Wind is a one-minute long assault that really is unlike anything this band has done before, while The Potter Has No Hands verges into almost Chariot territory.  This contrasts sharply with Cory Brandan Putman actually singing on the heavy, passionate, and growl-less Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes – a surefire album highlight that showcases a band showing us a side that they should have showcased long ago – the fact that they’re more than just a hardcore act – they can heavily play various sides of various coins, and the fact that they’ve never waded into this end of the pool before is nothing short of a shame.

We should have known right off the bat that this record was going to be different.  We start off with Hive Minds, an almost seven minute epic that wonderfully is half heavy music, and half hardcore.  It’s not chaotic, and Norma Jean show us expertise skill here in restraint and their ability to balance their time – so many hard acts want to go full-force and try to outdo each other all the time – the harder, the faster, the more blood curling – the better.  Not the case here, and Wrongdoers is all the better for it.

In a genre  that isn’t usually known for their lyrical ability, Norma Jean may be better than most, though they’ve never had lyrics that have blown, nor turned, me away.  Wrongdoers excels more than past releases, most notably on the title track, Funeral Singer (which also mixes speed with a mid-tempo, wonderfully heavy ending), The Potter Has No Hands,  and the mammoth fourteen-minute poetic closer entitled Sun Dies, Blood Moon.

More diverse, and at the same time, more consistent than past releases, every track feels necessary and in line, so even though it’s got the worst album artwork of their career, the record is certainly stronger than their last two efforts, and is certainly a contender for one of their best albums.

7.5 / 10

If you had to listen to two tracks:  Wrongdoers / Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes

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