Atlanta's Norma Jean were among the main bands of Christian metalcore.
Screaming maniac Josh Scogin sang on
the unrelenting and crushing
Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child (Solid State, 2002), containing
their apocalyptic anthem Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste,
16-minute Pretty Soon I Don't Know What But Something Is Going to Happen,
one of the most visceral, chaotic and cerebral examples of mathcore.
The album is clearly inspired by the classics of mathcore, namely
Botch's We Are the Romans (1999),
Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity (1999)
Converge's Jane Doe (2001),
but that manic and tormented excursion stands out.
Scogin was replaced by Cory Brandan for the tidier (everything is relative)
O'God The Aftermath (Tooth & Nail, 2005), whose
ten-minute Disconnecktie - The Faithful Vampire fails to match the
derailed grandeur of the debut album.
The sound was further
normalized on the mediocre Redeemer (Century Media, 2006), full of
more or less regular three-minute songs.
On the other hand, The Anti Mother (Solid State, 2008), displayed
a broader range of styles, from the classic metalcore of
Birth of The Anti Mother to the post-rock dynamics
of the nine-minute And There Will Be a Swarm of Hornets, and
featured sensational vocals by guests
(the Deftones' Chino Moreno in
Surrender Your Sons,
Helmet's Page Hamilton in
Opposite of Left and Wrong).
Meanwhile, the Chariot, fronted by Josh Scogin, played
explosive hyperkinetic hardcore on
Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead And Nothing Is Bleeding (2004),
The Fiancee (2007),
Wars And Rumors Of Wars (2009),
later collected on the triple-disc career retrospective Before There Was.
An artistic peak of sorts was reached by Chariot on
the feedback-drenched Long Live (2010) among the
visceral intermittently breathless The Audience, the
pure folly of Calvin Makenize, the
machine-gun frenzy of The City (although it ends with a choir worthy of a pub song), the menacing sci-fi overtones of The Earth,
the multi-part David De La Hoz, that begins like a deranged sermon and ends like celestial new-age music,
the feverish metal riff of Robert Rios,
especially the theatrical Spanish-tinged fanfare of The King.
Chariot then turned to atmospheric experiments on One Wing (2012).
Meanwhile, Norma Jean coined a melodic form of metalcore
on Meridional (Razor & Tie, 2010).
Then guitarist Chris Day, the last remaining founding member, rebuilt the
line-up behind vocalist Cory Brandan with second guitarist
Jeff Hickey and the rhythm section of bassist John Finnegan and drummer Clayton Holyoak for Wrongdoers (Razor & Tie, 2013), a polished work that
successfully bridged the old and the new Norma Jean: the catchy and almost
poppy Sword in Mouth Fire Eyes and Wrongdoers with
blistering and pounding mathcore of If You Got It At Five You Got It At Fifty and The Lash Whistled Like a Singing Wind.
The wildly ecletic 14-minute Sun Dies Blood Moon and the metalcore
baroque of the seven-minute Hiveminds show how to limit the technical
display without sacrificing the prog-metal impulse.
Chris Day quit too after this album, replaced by Phillip Farris.
At this point Norma Jean were a completely different band from the original one.
Polar Similar (2016) tries to copy the same format, but
Reaction and 1,000,000 Watts do not match the melodic gems of
the predecessor and the eleven-minute The Nexus is far more trivial than
Sun Dies Blood Moon, and half of the album is filler.
All Hail (2019), produced by Will Putney, sounds like a polished
collection of leftovers from the previous album, and even includes a
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