Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Record label: Razor & Tie
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Post-Hardcore, Heavy Metal, Metalcore
"f you had ever written the band off or traded them in for a younger model, this is the record that will force you to reconsider and repent..." Norma Jean broke the doors down a decade ago with ‘Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child’, a record that changed lives, genres and entire musical ecosystems. Many years and many members later, ‘Wrongdoers’ proves that the band can still get abrasive with the best of them. Album six does not recapture the denigrated filth of Norma Jean’s most celebrated works, but it still fits and shakes with terrifying force.
Here's the deal: long-suffering metal/hardcore band Norma Jean need to get more respect, now. These guys rule: take one listen of Wrongdoers' title track or "Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes" to see how they combine raging, ragged metallic hardcore with unhinged "melodic" singing that doesn't sound like the singer is holding flowers and serenading your grandma. There are more feedback-drenched sludge chords than you'd think — this isn't cleaned-up, radio-ready metalcore by any stretch of the imagination.
The very concept of a "guilty pleasure" has never made a great deal of sense to me. If you like something, you should be able to like it without fear of reprimand. With that being said, Norma Jean are a band that I've always enjoyed, yet never felt the urge to go out and tell people how much I enjoyed. Any way you look at it, the very idea of being a "Christian metalcore band" is pretty dorky.
After hitting a creative high note like 2010's Meridional, you wouldn't expect a band like Norma Jean to struggle with writing a new album while the iron was hot. The process that led to Wrongdoers, the band's sixth album, was fraught with peril, with three members of the quintet leaving during the two-year writing process. Finally emerging on the other side of the harrowing journey, the band delivers an album that feels surprisingly vital, with the only indication of the band's struggle coming through as catharsis.
Norma Jean proved they had a sense of humor when they released the lyric video for six-second joke song “Ahh! Shark Bite! Ahh!” in the lead-up to this album. But when it comes to the substance of its sixth full-length, the band isn’t goofing around. Wrongdoers may not be groundbreaking, but it’s certainly up to snuff with Norma Jean's past output of breakdown-heavy and somewhat-chaotic metalcore.