Norma Jean - All Hail review

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Band: Norma Jean
Album: All Hail
Release date: October 2019

01. Orphan Twin
02. (Mind Over Mind)
03. Safety Last
04. Volunteer Tooth Filing
05. Landslide Defeater
06. Full Circle In Under A Minute
07. /with_errors
08. Trace Levels Of Dystopia
09. Translational
10. Extra Dimensional Palette Cleanser
11. If (Loss) Then (Leader)
12. Careen

Yeah, it's a Norma Jean album alright.

What I meant by that shouldn't be taken too much as throwing shade at their consistency, because it's honestly quite an admirable feat of theirs. Very few metalcore bands can keep releasing albums of such quality over the course of twenty years without them being too radically different from each other and especially without trying to capitalize by moving to either indie rock or alternative metal. Some of their albums were indeed a lot more radical in their change than others, like 2008's Anti Mother, which is coincidentally the lowest rated of their albums here. And I also can't blame All Hail for sounding too much like an Norma Jean record, because 2016's Polar Similar was a lot more of a rehash, also coincidentally their highest rated album here. Maybe they really should not try to deviate too much from the formula?

For the most part, they don't, and the ways that they do aren't very risky, but they do enough to give All Hail enough of a personality and keep things a bit more exciting than their previous ones did. Moments like the post-metal influenced "Careen" or the grief-stricken "Anna" about the death of a fan are the ones most left-field from the bunch, and these come more towards the end of the record. The rest of the record is in the vein of at least one of their previous albums. And maybe I'm downplaying their ability to innovate, because binging through their discography, I always find at least one moment in each album that is very surprising, and I already mentioned the ones on this album.

And even if All Hails isn't a massive leap forward, the familiar waters threaded by Norma Jean are still some of the highest quality metalcore one may find, and from a band that is consistently great. That being said, I can't help but feel like Norma Jean is not exactly excelling at anything other than being consistent and balancing a fairly diverse metalcore sound. They're technical, but not as technical as a lot of bands. They're melodic, but not as melodic as a lot of bands. They're emotional, but not as emotional as a lot of bands. They're heavy, but not as heavy as a lot of bands. They're adventurous, but not as adventurous as a lot of bands. And All Hails doesn't change that.

So should they try to emphasize one aspect of their songwriting? Why would they when apparently their best received one was their safest? One thing is for sure, at least they don't play nu metal anymore like they did in Luti-Kriss. But maybe they should.


Written on 12.11.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.

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