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51yybZhudEL. SL160 On their fifth studio album and first from their new home, NORMA JEAN starts to expand upon their metalcore roots for an experience that moves them into a slightly bigger world.

Released by Razor & Tie last month, MERIDIONAL is a vast improvement upon prior releases from the band, which (like many) was at risk of being lost in a sea of similar sounding acts in the metal/noise/scream-core genres. While their songwriting skills were always a slight step above many of their peers, MERIDIONAL sets them farther ahead as they’ve crafted bigger tunes this time around.

At the same time, the vocals enter the screamo territory a little too much for a band that seems to be maturing everywhere else. The end result is a band that often sounds too much like itself, to the point where there’s not a lot to differentiate one song from another during the heavy parts.

MERIDIONAL is a good album with some great songs (“Deathbed Atheist”, “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse”), and shows promise for what album number six might be.

Rating: 3.5/5

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