Most helpful positive review
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One Of The Most Consistently Interesting Hardcore Releases In Years
on November 15, 2005
Norma Jean is one of those bands that only comes along every so often. In a time where music has become way too overly glossy, with people adding ridiculous effects and altering almost every aspect of their sound, what you get on a record is hardly what a band produces when they are just in a room together making music. Norma Jean is the anti-thesis to all of that. This is either an album you're going to love, because you see the genuine creativity used to record this album, or one that you're going to hate for your own personal reasons, whether it be because of the the band's beliefs or because you are more into other styles of music. "Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child" is one of the strongest hardcore releases in the last 5 years, and warrants a listen from anyone who has interest in the genre. There so many aspects of this album that make it overshadow some of the best produced albums in not only the hardcore genre, but any other genre alike, that there is no reason not to listen to this cd.
When this album was released three years ago, frantic and chaotic hardcore was not as widely spread as it is now. People really have to understand the creativity behind this album. Not only is Norma Jean one of the heaviest bands around, they also have a way of making their sound come together and be pleasing to the ears. People who simply say "oh yea the singer needs to stop screaming like a two year old", or "they play too much heavy stuff, there's no melody" or any other comment they can think of making, aren't really listening to the album for the purpose it was created for. This album is to show how music is meant to be played. There's no computers, no effects, no vocal enhancements, and no added instruments. You basically have five guys in a room, making some of the most destructive music you've ever listened to. They took no more than two takes to record each song, which indeed gives it the genuine live feel. This is reminiscent of the hardcore days of old when bands simple didn't have enough money to rent a studio for multiple takes. They basically had to get it in one take, and if they didn't, it was getting pressed anyway. However some of the most amazing music ever produced was recorded this way. Mistakes have been left in as well so you get the feel that this is the way that the band would play it were they sitting right in front of you. Josh Scogin's commanding voice will overpower you from the first seconds of "The Entire World Is Counting On Me and They Don't Even Know...." and only gets better as the album progresses. You can even hear him clear his throat at the beginning of "Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste". The guitars play off each other to create one of the most interesting atmospheres that has ever been captured on a hardcore album. Songs like "I Used To Hate Cell Phones, But Now I Hate Car Crashes" and "Sometimes It's Our Mistake That Can Make The Greatest Ideas" both can go from opposite ends of the spectrum; sounding almost light at times, to then a full on assault on the ears. The band also mastered the art of crafting songs, as shown by their 15 minute epic "Pretty Soon, I Don't Know What, But Something Is Going To Happen" which will keep you interested ever second it lasts, and their short, powerful passages like "The Shotgun Message". Make no mistake there is nothing light or melodic about Norma Jean's sound. You won't find Josh slipping into any clean emo singing, or the guitars playing solos or anything of that nature. Norma Jean brings the mayhem every second of every song they play. This makes songs like "Face:Face" and "Creating Something Out Of Nothing, Only To Destroy It", even more powerful, because they simple don't let up. Constantly through the album you will find yourself going "wow" at how amazing some parts have been crafted. The drumming is a particularly amazing aspect of the sound. Most bands in hardcore of metal rely on their drummer as some kind of "Machine" who can just play double bass as fast as humanly possible. However Danny never shows off, he simply backs the band the way it should be done. I understand how this album could not appeal to everyone, especially fans of metal because there are many things about it that are far distant from the genre. This is an album that is best listened to with an open mind, and a clear conscience.
A quick note about their beliefs. Yes Norma Jean is a Christian band. However what they believe in should have no effect on whether or not you listen to them. A lot of people tend to think that since they believe in the Christian religion that this album is automatically going to be preachy, or their attempt to convert you to their style of thinking, which couldn't be further from the truth. I can only think of one song on this album that even has anything to do with the subject of religion, and that is "The Shotgun Message." I've never seen so many people go crazy over a band being "Christian", and not even preaching their religion. If you won't listen to them because of their beliefs, you're not only being ignorant, but you're also missing some of the most original music that has been put together in the last decade.
Make no mistake, this album is not for everyone. Fans of metal inparticularly, might be turned off by this album, because it's not "metal" as you would think of it. If you are looking for an album that will pummel you from start to finish, and keep you intersted every second, then this cd is for you. Containing some of the best vocals, most creative music, and heaviest breakdowns I've ever heard, "Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child" delivers on all levels of music, atmosphere and sound. Genuine rock records like this are not abundant in our music world today, and when one of this nature comes along we need to take it for what it's really worth. If you waste time worrying about their beliefs, or comparing this to other pieces of music, you're missing out on everything that makes this album special. If you want to be shocked, amazing and assaulted by your music, pick this album up today and be amazed at how you have never heard this record before, anywhere.