Wed, January 11, 2017
Top 9 of 2016 #3 Norma Jean-Polar Similar
HERE IT IS! The best albums released in the year 2016. I feel like we should lay down some ground rules before we get started. First and foremost, this is my OPINION. Therefore, I could be right or I could be wrong but based on my taste this is the list I put together. If you feel like I made a miscalculation, please feel free to comment with your argument. I love debating music and would love to do it with you. Also, these albums fall somewhere in the rock genre. That's what I do. Thirdly, please when you're telling me what you think in the comments, keep it PC.
#3: Norma Jean-Polar Similar
Norma Jean deliver one of the best albums in a storied career, and do it without any original members of the original line-up of the band. Yeah, you read that correctly. With the departure of last-remaining original member Chris Day, the band now comprises members who did not appear on seminal release Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child. However, that didn’t stop them from taking the #3 spot on this list with an album that I literally cannot stop banging my head to. The album explores the art of atmospherics, which I’m happy to see more aggressive bands taking ownership of. It lends a hit, step back, hit, step back feel to the record that allows for you to catch your breath and overall makes for a more enjoyable listening experience.
The use of these atmospherics shows a different side to a band that throughout their discography constant experimentation, both to a string of success and some failures. Here, it is a success. The electronics that premiated previous release O God, The Aftermath are dialed back to give us the breadth between aggressive songs. I love the use of sampling and an almost psychedelic structure to these breaks. It definitely shows a band that has learned from their releases and keeps attempting to break new ground.
We have cracked the top 3 and while I strongly urge to listen to these albums front to back, I will still be taking a look at some key songs from each release.
Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else
After a blistering intro, the band wastes no time in bringing the aggression that they are so well-known for. This is the first true track that we get introduced to the subdued clean singing that’s going to permeate a lot of this album, but that quickly gives way to the aggressive verses. I love the incredible guitar work on this track, the subtle leads adding the perfect level of atmosphere. This is also the first taste we get that Norma Jean has let go of the majority of the dissonant chords that were a hall-mark of their genre. While you still get that in the last part of the song, the riffs are much more pummelling but also a little more accessible. With this band, and this song in particular, that’s a blessing not a curse.
This was the song that started my hype on this album. For the entirety of Norma Jeans career they have tried to replicate the success they had on their breakthrough single “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste”, and I don’t think they ever come as close on anything else than they do right here. This song is pure ass-kickery. It doesn’t let up except at the chorus. I love that line, “I feel bad that you’re angry, but I’m sorry, I don’t care for what it’s worth. If it ever comes down to me or you, you’re probably going to die.” That hits you in the gut. As I stated earlier, I love lyrics that are open to interpretation and that certainly fits under that description. I also have a crazy weakness for breakup songs (Hell, I’m in rocknroll, of course I do.) and this song certainly fits that bill. The song describes the feeling of escaping a damaging relationship and how invigorating that feeling can be.
Another song that shows us Norma Jeans master of the art of atmosphere. This song starts of more subdued but straight up explodes. I love the use of clean singing in the verse. It really shows the chops the vocalist has. The energy builds up from there into the chorus. I love the swirling guitar work. It gives you the feeling of being in a blender and being driven over the edge. The small blues riff over the bridge really sells it for me as well. I love bands that blend genres and for a guy that loves metal as much as I do, I appreciate a good acoustic riff thrown in at the right time. I love when this song uses a distorted bass solo to bring you right back into the roller-coaster of chorus. Definitely not music for the feint of heart.
THERE YOU HAVE IT! #3 NORMA JEAN-POLAR SIMILAR!
Miss #4? Find it here!