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Norma Jean: Wrongdoers

Metalcore also-rans race to the front of the pack

It may be harsh to pin Norma Jean as metalcore also-rans, but they always did fall between movements: not as inventive as Botch or Converge, and lacking KSE’s huge choruses. Although 2010’s Meridional raised a few eyebrows by dipping its toe into post-rock Isis/ Pelican waters, only their most committed fans will be giddy at news of a new album.

So, especially considering 60 per cent of the band are new members appearing on a studio recording for the first time, who’d have predicted such a triumphant return? Wrongdoers is a stunning record. Hive Minds opens with six minutes of slow-building, feedback-drenched sludge, and rather than pulling from the usual Gothenburg influences they bring to mind a more brutal version of Helmet’s tar-thick, groove-based riffing.

Though it’s crammed with huge guitars like a poker-faced ETID, best exhibited on the pummelling Triffids, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From the minute-long pure punk burst of The Lash That Whistled Like A Singing Wind to the 15-minute experimental noise drone of closer Sun Dies, Blood Moon, Norma Jean have made an album of rare depth and dynamism. Frankly Wrongdoers is doing plenty right.