Recording information: Covenant Studio, Kansas City, MO; Singing Serpent Studios, New York, NY; The Link Venue, Blue Springs, MO.
Photographers: Mike Dann; Joe Andersons.
After hitting a creative high note like 2010's Meridional, you wouldn't expect a band like Norma Jean to struggle with writing a new album while the iron was hot. The process that led to Wrongdoers, the band's sixth album, was fraught with peril, with three members of the quintet leaving during the two-year writing process. Finally emerging on the other side of the harrowing journey, the band delivers an album that feels surprisingly vital, with the only indication of the band's struggle coming through as catharsis. An album that's as exciting viscerally as it is texturally, Wrongdoers takes listeners on a hell ride through a variety of tempos and fidelities ranging from crisp soaring heights to grimy sludge. This gives the album an element of dynamic uncertainty that always keeps listeners on their toes, never allowing them to get too comfortable with any particular sound before it blindfolds them and takes them to some entirely new place. This also doesn't feel like an album made by a band that just replaced three of its five members, instead coming across as a cohesive album that still features plenty of thrilling guitar work and rock-solid playing. While Norma Jean were no doubt exhausted by the creative process that went into Wrongdoers, fans will be happy to reap the rewards of their hard work and the perseverance of a band that still holds true to the spirit of metalcore. ~ Gregory Heaney