Here’s the facts, kiddos:
-“Meridional” refers to something southerly or an inhabitant of the south of France.
-As of this writing on January 3rd, Meridional is the latest Norma Jean album.
-It was released in 2010 on Razor & Tie Records.
-It’s a ripper.
Like Underoath, Norma Jean has become one of those “bands by committee,” in that they have only ever had one consistent member stay for every album: guitarist Chris Day.
My interest in Norma Jean was piqued with “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste” from their seminal debut release Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child. At the time, Josh Scogin (now of The Chariot) was the lead vocalist. The song also featured a guest appearance by Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou. I swear up and down that that song was on every mixed hardcore/metal burned disc from 2002 to about 2005. Everybody knew that song.
After Scogin split to start The Chariot, Brad Norris filled in temporarily, culminating with this… questionable performance from Hellfest 2003. At least the music was good. Anyway, once NJ figured out they could do better (and considering Norris hasn’t done anything since), former Living Sacrifice vocalist Cory Brandan joined.
The succeeding albums (O’ God, the Aftermath, Redeemer, and The Anti-Mother) received critical acclaim, garnered a Grammy nomination, and amassed the band a sizable following. I feel this is largely in part because of the shift in style. Whereas Bless the Martyr was more of a straightforward mathcore/metal album,
Meridional is fast (“Blood Burner”), pissed off (“Deathbed Atheist”), and significantly darker (“Falling from the Sky, Day Seven”) than their previous works. Where O God and Redeemer were examples of the band trying to find their sound, The Anti-Mother honed it in, but Meridional really kills it.
The album features two short, creepy tracks (“Septritional” and “Occidental”) that share a musical thread with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-influenced, hidden closing track at the end of “Innocent Bystanders United.” It’s like watching Slender Man in the dark.
Overall, the album sounds huge and often makes creative uses of destructive percussion to sound even more gigantic. “The People That Surround You on a Regular Basis” is perhaps the most rock radio-friendly track the band has written.
And for what it’s worth, my favorite thing about Norma Jean is that HORSE the Band refers to them as “Normal Jeans.” Yup.
Standout tracks: “The Anthem of the Angry Brides” and “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse”
Weakest track: “Everlasting Tapeworm” if only for the chorus.
RIYL: Hardcore, metalcore, noisecore. Underoath, Haste the Day, Converge, Botch, The Chariot, The Handshake Murders.