- reviewed by Andrea Dawn Goforth Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 8 Aug
- Vipers, Snakes, And Actors
- Robots 3 Humans 0
- Birth Of The Anti Mother
- Self Employed Chemist
- Death Of The Anti Mother
- Surrender Your Sons
- Murphy Was An Optimist
- Opposite Of Left And Wrong
- Discipline Your Daughters
- And There Will Be A Swarm Of Hornets
There are two things Norma Jean is well known for: being crazy (in both music and on stage antics) and having a dark sound. And while the hardcore band is as chaotic as ever on their latest album, The Anti-Mother finds them exploring more melody and new sounds, relying less and less on their influences while continuing to develop a genre-bending style all their own.
The backdrop for The Anti-Mother is colored with line-up changes, a new producer, and some personal baggage, making for their most personal release yet. However, "emotional" is no antonym to the chaotic, massively hardcore sound that Norma Jean is known for. Opening track "Vipers, Snakes, and Actors" doesn't waist any time getting into the gritty mess of wild guitars and brutal screams. In true Norma Jean style, it feels like the song will fall apart at any moment, yet they manage to keep it together and make sense of it all.
Tracks like "Self Employed Chemist" and "Robots 3 Humans 0" show off Norma Jean's relatively new sense of melody with a slight tint of southern rock. Though they experimented with melody on previous albums, none took the shape of these tracks with their brutal, throat-tearing vocal lines matched to painfully honest lyrics. A guest appearance by Deftones singer/guitarist Chino Moreno on "Surrender Your Sons" makes for a stand-out with its melody, as Moreno's voice and musical ideas create the beautiful greenery over Norma Jean's wall of sound.
Never mind that lead singer Cory Brandan colors these tracks with screams or singing—the dark tone, disparity, and confusion play in the forefront of The Anti-Mother. In a recent interview, Brandan takes blame for the failure of his marriage earlier this year, right around the time the band began writing the album. Some lyrics that emerged from that could no doubt only be written by someone in depths of such an ugly situation: "You won't leave the way you came/And now no more blood will be shed/We will burn for this/We will both of us burn." Yet while most of the lyrical content fits with that tone of despair, the album still closes with spiritual hope and surrender: "I need to be saved/Pick me up and I'll find my way back home I swear."
The Anti-Mother serves as another new creation for Norma Jean, proof that they are consistently growing as a band. They remain a group not consumed with fitting a mold, but with breaking out of every genre or stereotype placed in front of them. By adding melody, some Southern rock, guest appearances, and uncoated emotion, Norma Jean remains on the cutting edge of the hardcore scene.