"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Norma Jean - "Meridional" (CD)

Norma Jean - "Meridional" CD cover image

"Meridional" track listing:

1. Leaderless and Self Enlisted
2. The Anthem of the Angry Brides
3. Deathbed Atheist
4. Bastardizer
5. A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse
6. Septentrional
7. Blood Burner
8. High Noise Low Output
9. Falling from the Sky: Day Seven
10. Everlasting Tapeworm
11. Occidental
12. The People That Surround You on a Regular Basis
13. Innocent Bystanders United / Oriental

Reviewed by on July 26, 2010

"The essence of the genius that is 'Meridional' comes from the album’s flow. From the first track to the last every song builds off one another, becoming better and better as the album crashes further onwards."

It’s hard to come across an album that truly defines what a record is meant to be. Too many bands fall into the trend of slapping together some songs without any purpose, direction, or meaning and expect it to be the their “Master of Puppets.” Douglasville, Georgia’s Norma Jean breaks this trend with their latest offering, “Meridional,” an epic collection of progressive metalcore compositions that demonstrate the true art of creating a complete album.

“Meridional” showcases the absolute best Norma Jean has to offer. Brutal complexity often finds itself woven into moments of subtle beauty and creativity, which leave a lasting impression on the listener. Songs like “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” and “High Noise Low Output” are perfect examples of the band’s ability to combine both technical, and occasionally time signature bending, metalcore with enough melody and passion to keep things sounding fresh. Whereas past Norma Jean albums bled together and followed the same vibe throughout, “Meridional” offers something new to experience with every spin.

Even the heavier tracks such as “Bastardizer” contain innovative guitar work, moving past the generic metalcore sound by leaps and bounds. Norma Jean have stepped up their songwriting and it shows throughout the album’s thirteen tracks. “The Anthem of the Angry Brides” is a dizzying song with aggressive and intricate lead guitar work that would make fans of Psyopus, Genghis Tron or any other math-metal band salivate. With all of its hidden potential, “Meridional” is surely to become the comparison for all future metalcore albums.

The essence of the genius that is “Meridional” comes from the album’s flow. From the first track to the last every song builds off one another, becoming better and better as the album crashes further onwards. Through the bludgeoning opener “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” to the ultra melodic “Falling From the Sky: Day Seven” there is always something new around the corner, which makes for a fantastic and captivating end to end listen. “Meridional” is best served up as one entire experience in order to enjoy all of the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances properly. Separately the songs may not seem to be anything out of the ordinary, but together as one cohesive force it is truly something special.

“Meridional” marks the long awaited return of the album and what it means as an art form. Those expecting a batch of radio ready singles and easily accessible tunes have come to the wrong party. “Meridional” moves far beyond the simplistic notion of thirteen songs on a disc, creating its own world with its own textures and emotions. Simply put, this album is a monster.

Highs: The album defines flow and provides an incredible front-to-back listen.

Lows: The instrumental track "Occidental" seems pointless.

Bottom line: A near flawless album when enjoyed in its entirety from start to finish.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)