Norma Jean - Wrongdoers (Album Review)

At this point in their career Norma Jean have become veterans of the hardcore/metal scene. Many of their peer bands have ended up either breaking up or disbanding. Norma Jean have become a stalwart band. That's not to say the band hasn't had it's fair share of changes though. As far as sound goes the band has found themselves experimenting with sounds and genres over their last couple albums. They have also gone through a ton of changes personnel wise (even from their last album). At this point they have one remaining original member. With all those things taken into consideration in my opinion, Wrongdoers might easily be their best album since 2005's O God, The Aftermath.

With all the personnel changes vocalist Cory Brandan Putman has finally been able to make this more of his band (which is crazy to believe since he's been the vocalist on every Norma Jean album but one). On this album, unlike previous albums, I don't think fans will be clamoring to compare Putman to ex-vocalist Josh Scogin or the work of Scogin's new group The Chariot. Let's face it-at this point with the personnel changes-this is more Putman's version of the Norma Jean band than the version of the band Scogin was the vocalist for so many years ago. Putman's vocals both singing and screaming are done so well on this album. I feel like this might be one of the best Norma Jean albums since his joining that he hits all the marks in all the right ways. He's definitely the anchor of the album and quite possibly the band at this point.

There is a throwback to the sounds of earlier Norma Jean albums on Wrongdoers. It doesn't feel forced; it feels natural. The band finds time to incorporate some of the things they've learned over the last few albums with the throwback sound of the earlier albums in a way that improves the songs and really helps refine them. It's aggressive, sludgy, and heavy in the way I want a Norma Jean album to be. The guitar riffs are great and a whole lot of fun to listen to. One great thing about this album is that some hardcore albums lose steam towards the middle, but this one doesn't. I really like the way this album ends. The last two songs are really cool listens. Track 10 "Funeral Singers" is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.

I've been a fan and familiar of Norma Jean since they were named Luti-Kriss. I'll be honest that some of their albums after O God, The Aftermath have been uneven. I've enjoyed some of the songs on the following albums, but there have also been songs I found myself being less than fond of. I feel like Wrongdoers is a complete and solid listen. It almost feels like the band has caught their second wind. The loss of key personnel on this album that had previously been so important to the Norma Jean band is kind of a bummer, although it might have been for the best if the band can continue to crank out solid releases like this. If you were a fan of Norma Jean at any point you should really enjoy this one. If you are an old fan and their last couple of album haven't been your cup of tea then I think you should listen to this one. My guess is you will like it.

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