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on August 19, 2008
Absolutely great album. Ross Robinson is the best hard rock producer and he brings Norma Jean up to the level they should be on. The album is great from start to finish. Really well written. ...Discipline Your Daughters is one of the greatest songs in the genre. Chino and Cove are just a little bonus, and if that somehow takes away from your enjoyment of the record, well, you're crazy.
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on April 6, 2015
Amazing CD
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on February 17, 2015
ok
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on August 2, 2014
This record has grown on me over time, as I've come to understand it better. It's the most diverse NJ record, and I can listen to tracks 1-7 nonstop every time, and be completely lost in the music. Tracks 8 and 9 are a little weaker to me, but are still good. And track 10 is a solid and brutal finish, although the last 4 minutes of the track are really just soft, atmospheric music repeated over and over - it would have been interesting to complete the track a different way.

Many NJ fans or hardcore fans may have a problem with the highly varied vocals on this record - by Cory Brandan, and the guest vocalists - but I think the vocals are a great strength. More than on any other record, the music varies in tempo, atmosphere, and harshness, which brings the listener on an up and down journey, and the vocals provide a guide and a narrative to the journey. Even though some of the tracks don't seem as heavy as we've come to expect from Norma Jean, it's a bit of an illusion, partly propped up by the varied vocals. I've found myself listening to some of the tracks that don't have the typical NJ brutality, like "Self Employed Chemist" and "Murphy Was An Optimist", and the guitars are still quite heavy - just not throughout the entire track. But when they kick in, they do so to great effect, and there are some cool riffs throughout the record.

As I said, this record grew on me. At first, I thought it was solid, but not outstanding, and I gravitated to the heavier tracks - "Vipers, Snakes and Actors" and "Birth of the Anti-mother" should grab your attention immediately. But I enjoy this record more and more over time when I'm looking for a record that takes me on a varied journey from one track to another. If I'm looking for a constant barrage of brutality, I'll put on "Oh God, The Aftermath". But "Vs. the Anti-Mother" has the strong lyrics and dark themes expected of Norma Jean. However, the listener has got to be willing to follow NJ on a different journey in order to really understand and appreciate this record. If you immerse yourself in it - maybe on a long drive - I think you'll find it's a really intriguing concept record that reveals more and more to the listener with every spin.
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on November 7, 2013
“Redeemer,” the 2006 third full-length from Norma Jean, proved that the Georgia-based quintet had a few new tricks up their sleeve, and were about more than just mere Botch worship. Like crafting memorable melodies, for example, and fusing them into the mix so that they would possess a raw and abrasive, yet also mildly tuneful hard/noisecore sound. And on the follow-up to that excellent album, 2008’s “The Anti-Mother,” N.J. continue down that same path, with just enough melody to be memorable, and more than enough inventive songwriting to help ensure the fact that the music is epic and expansive.

The end result is a menacingly heavy effort, and one that is both brutal and simultaneously kind of harmonious. (And the heck of it is, it manages to be both at the same time -- not in the cookie-cutter, “change the channel” kind of way that and not in the same way that, say, All That Remains and/or Gwen Stacy have to be.) And an immaculate, yet not overly slick production job (courtesy of Ross Robinson) helps to ensure this fact, too.

The set kicks off with a piece of full-on, straightforward, NYCH-inspired hardcore in “Vipers, Snakes, And Actors,” which is backed by thickly distorted, churning guitar riffs, angular bass riffs, a crashing drum beat, and throat-tearing hardcore screams. Some later tracks, like “Self Employed Chemist,” “Robots: 3, Humans: 0,” and “Surrender Your Sons” marry dissonant music and hardcore vocals with catchy, memorable melodic hooks and soaring backing clean vocal harmonies. (The latter two songs are also of note for featuring guest vocals, with Chino Moreno Cove Reber chipping in with guest vocals and songwriting.) Plenty of chunky, heavy guitar hooks and headbangable breakdowns are included all throughout these tunes, as well.

And there are a handful of more tuneful tunes to be had, here, as well. Take, for example, “Death Of The Anti-Mother,” which begins with a cool and somber-sounding acoustic intro before morphing into a sludgy, surging, lurching groove that is iced with angular riffing and visceral vocals. Then there is “Murphy Was An Optimist,” a piece of Helmet-inspired post-hardcore with stop-start hooks, a memorably soaring and melodic vocal refrain, and some thoroughly decent bass work. (This includes a steady bass intro and a solid, humming bass groove that flows throughout.)

But these melodic and subdued moments, while establishing some excellent texture and friction, are more often than not overrun by more brutal and noisy tracks, with “Birth Of The Anti-Mother” being but one example. It is an extremely dissonant and math-y gem that could rival anything on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s “Calculating Infinity.” And elsewhere, we are also treated to the thundering guitar and bass riffs (and guest vocals from Helmet’s Page Hamilton) that occupy much of “Opposite Of Left And Wrong,” and the outright puzzling math/noisecore blast that is “…Discipline Your Daughters.”

With all of that having been said, though, it is actually “And There Will Be A Swarm Of Hornets” that takes the cake for being the record’s epic. It opts for opening on an unnervingly restrained note with a few seconds of ominous feedback. But then the lumbering, downtuned (and distinctly Converge-esque) guitar riffs and thundering bass come storming in and take over the rest of the number, as do surging, jerking, mathematically-calculated rhythms. And this song, an epic closing piece, also features some almost orchestral-sounding female backing vocals, pounding drums, and a cool synth-abetted outro.

Ingeniously written, superbly crafted, and exceedingly well played, “The Anti-Mother” does not trump the same level of excellence achieved on that already mentioned 2006 release, but it is still a fine effort all around from Norma Jean.
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on November 17, 2008
Melodic? Yes. Hardcore... you bet. Norma Jean (a.k.a. pattern of God's grace and mercy) has crafted a truly stunning album I can only call epic. Unlike "O God, The Aftermath" the band is focusing more on melodies, messages and sounding REALLY REALLY GOOD. I can't say this album is better than "O God," as that is probably the best mathcore metal album I've ever heard. Still, if you're looking for a VERY enjoyable hardcore rock CD with great melodies, some punk/chaos riffs and a whole lot of replay value, this is your album.
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on October 4, 2009
I come from the position of liking everything that Norma has put out including my favorite, O God The Aftermath. Redeemer is also a nearly flawless album. The Anti-Mother is a LOT like Redeemer, but with less good tracks. Redeemer went 11 for 11, but The Anti-Mother has 5/11 good songs. They include:

Vipers, Snakes, and Actors
Self Employed Chemist
Birth of the Anti-Mother
(Especially)Robots 3 Humans 0
(And My Favorite)Murphy Was an Optimist

All the rest of the songs simply fail to get repeats from me. It's really sad because the song with Chino from Deftones is just not catchy. The chorus just doesn't hook. "Opposite of Left and Wrong" is just not Norma Jean. It digresses to far from the original material. And two ending songs have good pieces here and there, but nothing sticks to the brain.

If you have the money, it's a great cd to have. The few songs you will like will be very valuable, but don't expect this to be a perfect score. Norma Jean is just a little mixed up, and the need to solidify their next album into a more focused concept. For example, O God the Aftermath was an album that had a specific style and a format that can never be mimicked. The Anti-Mother is just too all over the place to be a classic metal album.
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on August 6, 2008
I'm a heavily biased Jean fan but except for a few jems on The Anti-Mother, I think the well is starting to run dry. That's not to say that the band shouldn't be damn proud of this album. The journey this band has taken production wise is night and day, I almost wish they would go back and re-record "O' God The Aftermath" with this sound !! Vipers, Snakes and Actors is brutal classic Jean and if Robots 3 Humans 0 doesn't get stuck in your head I'd suggest to check if you are still breathing. I respect the fact that they aren't afraid to journey to new places but some places they aren't meant to go. This album is definitely worth a listen but overall will only end up adding a few great tracks to their live show.

Notable tracks:

Vipers, Snakes and Actors
Birth Of The Anti-Mother
Robots 3 Humans 0
Surrender Your Sons
And There Will Be A Swarm Of Hornets
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on August 29, 2008
I have been a fan of this band since they released their EP under the name Luti-Kriss. This band has since released four albums under the name we have all come to know and love. This is the album that will cement Norma Jean as one of the greatest hardcore/metal bands of this generation. The biggest complaint I've heard over recent years is that Corey Brandon's vocal style didn't fit Norma Jean. Loyalists to original vocalist Josh (now in the band The Chariot) met Corey with understandable skepticism. This album shows a growth some bands never achieve. The Anti Mother is a ten song masterpiece that just plain rocks. It has enough melody to keep it from sounding monotone, which is rare in the metal scene today. The song writing as always is creative and at time abstract. It's rare that I find an album I can listen to repeatedly all the way through without skipping songs along the way. This is one such album. If you are a long time fan or new to this band, The Antimother is a must for any metal head's collection.
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on August 30, 2008
A lot of people said that this band would fall by the wayside after Josh Scogin, Daniel Davison and a couple of other members decided to move along and pursue other interests. Still Cory Branden and co. managed to bring about a very strong release in 'Norma Jean vs. The Anti-Mother.' Fueled by a loose concept and collaborations (not just guest appearances), strong lyrics and a newly-discovered experimental edge, it's easy to see why most scene kids would bad mouth NJ's latest release: Norma Jean finally stepped out of their comfort zone... but not without taking some of their tried-and-true formulas with them and concocting some insane, new material.

What surprises me the most is not how Norma Jean has matured musically but how MUCH they've matured and how open-minded they've become. Their decisions to not only work with Chino Moreno, Cove Reber and Page Hamilton but to make it appear that they temporarily joined the band. The outcome is superb, best seen over the track 'Opposite of Left and Wrong,' where Page and Cory trade lyrical punches back and forth like two prizefighters going twelve rounds.

On their own, their just as unrelenting. The band continues to make clean transitions in time signatures and seamlessly bring you from clear skies to violent storm clouds; Cory's decision to sing may be considered a stretch or controversial by some NJ fans, but in my mind, it picks up where Redeemer and O God, The Aftermath left off. You could hear him lightly experiment with singing in The Aftermath and Redeemer, and now he has finally found some melodic confidence without saturating his guttural screaming presence. Clearly, it works and it's not overdone, which is what makes it so inviting to listen to.

'The Anti Mother' will almost certainly be the album that redefines and revisits Norma Jean's musical style. While most will continue to try and pigeon hole bands like Norma Jean for doing something different, it shouldn't detract from the fact that 'The Anti Mother' is a breath of fresh air compared to the 80s revival garbage that most people are listening to these days; the same ol' same that most bands just can't tear away from or even the tired 'we idolize our favourite bands by trying to be just like them but were our own separate entity' charade.

'Anti Mother' is all killer, no filler. Each of the ten tracks brings about another facet of Norma Jean's visceral and cunning personality and, quite frankly, if kids can't understand why 'The Anti Mother' is what it is, they're better off listening to Cobra Starship.
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