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September 29, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Norma Jean -vs- The Anti Mother

Norma Jean -vs- The Anti Mother opens with a bang. ‘Vipers, Snakes, and Actors’ kicks in with a very heavy riff, traditional death metal vocals, and a bassline for stomping to. It is good stuff. There is a breakdown, back to normalcy, and a delicate fadeout to post-rock influenced ambience. 9 minutes later the track finishes. It is hot.

The rest of The Anti Mother is nowhere near as epic. But, it is very very good. Norma Jean remain on the hardcore side of the metalcore/contemporary hardcore divide, but only just. The complexity hardcore fans come to expect is largely lacking, and a number of songs have quite clearly been designed to play at just the right speed to headbang to. Indeed, several tracks come awfully close to having identifiable song structure. But while these ought to be criticisms, for some reason, they don’t come off badly.

A possible reason for The Anti Mother’s unlikely success is its sense of balance. An equilibrium of anger and catharsis has been achieved, so that even their use of boring ass-power chords can be forgiven; it’s hard to hold a grudge against a band when you’re rocking out to them. Also, Cory Brandon has a hot voice, both singing and screaming. That may also be significant in my judgement.

‘Surrender Your Sons…’ (featuring Chino Morello from Deftones) is probably the best track on the album. Stripped down, slowed down and full of fury, ‘Surrender Your Sons…’ provides the heavy-as-fuck release from everything that good metalcore aspires to.

The Anti Mother as a whole is a vast improvement on their last release, Redeemer. There is a definite feeling that the band members sat around one night, had a jam, and discovered “You know what? Melodies are pretty awesome after all.” The songs have a sense of purpose, and although they seem less heavy, they’re actually not; the mess of guitars on Redeemer have just been cleaned away, not only allowing them to have something to say, but revealing the weight of the bass and drums underneath. It’s all good stuff.

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