Norma Jean – Polar Similar album review

Atlanta’s metal misfits Norma Jean step into the dark with new album, reviewed here

Norma Jean, 'Polar Similar' album cover

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

After the artistic, if not commercial, success of 2013’s Wrongdoers, there is once again anticipation for new material from Georgia’s Norma Jean.

Polar Similar is proof that their return to form was no fluke, which is where the parallels between those two records end. Even though they’ve made a career from deeply heavy and challenging music, this is possibly their bleakest album to date.

As soon as I. The Planet lurches from the speakers, slowly and menacingly, it’s obvious that Norma Jean are unwilling to pay lip service to their past. And while the pace and the volume of the record swings from one end of the spectrum to the other, there’s an almost gothic darkness to the overall feel of Polar Similar that never fades for a second. The hypnotic and disturbing II.

The People sounds more like it belongs on the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie than on a hardcore record, while Synthetic Sun owes much more to The Cure and Killing Joke than it does Killswitch Engage. In fact, such is the flow of the album, once you press play it’s impossible for your mind to wander at all, leaving you to digest Polar Simliar as one giant, all-encompassing piece of pitch-black brilliance.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.