The Anti Mother
Another Norma Jean album, another lineup change. This time, drummer Chris Raines steps in for the absent Daniel Davison, who exited the lineup in 2007 to pursue a career in visual art. Raines is a solid replacement, having honed his percussive thunder with Spitfire, and The Anti Mother offers up another batch of cathartic, pummeling metal. Although the bandmates still flaunt an ability to grind their audience's eardrums into powder, Norma Jean's hidden strength lies in their dedication to melody, which hides behind walls of sound and rears its head during key moments. "Self Employed Chemist" and "Robots 3 Humans 0" are prime examples, mixing distortion with melodic hooks and vocal harmonies. Norma Jean's members aren't softening in their old age; rather, they've learned to add variation to the metalcore pattern, injecting bursts of melody and offering cameo spots to members of the Deftones, Mighty Six Ninety, Saosin, Helmet, and others. The Anti Mother ultimately boasts the best of both worlds: heavy riffage with manic, tortured shrieking, and aggressive melodies sung with equal parts passion and grit.