The time spent with Deftones’ Chino Moreno during the recording of Norma Jean vs the Anti Mother must’ve been a real education for Norma Jean. On its fifth studio album, Meridional, the metalcore outfit has continued to play with texture and melody, landing on a sound for the album that meshes the heavy harmonies of the Deftones with the discordant assault of Converge. The result is a sound that’s bigger than your typical metal/emo hybrid, with the band never losing sight of the fact that its bread and butter is in huge, heavy songs. Because of this, there’s an intensity that courses through the songs that provides a sense of momentum even during the album's more melodic moments, creating a driving sound that makes room for its more euphonic moments without ever fully succumbing to them, with Norma Jean doing their best to make sure that they’re keeping the pedal to the metal for as long a possible before taking their foot off the gas. Opening track (and first single) “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” really serves to show off all of the sounds that the band is bringing together on Meridional. Slithering riffs, a melodic yet intense chorus, and noisy, angular breakdowns come together to show a band that has really hit its stride creatively, taking the techniques it has developed and putting them all together into one enjoyable package.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney