In spite of – or perhaps because of – the loss of a vocalist, Australian metalcore band Northlane, has released its most mature and consistent album to date. With the addition of Marcus Bridge and his on-point vocals, the guys of Northlane, have primed, picked and polished their sound.
To some, the change is barely noticeable. Others, especially those who have lamented over the band’s use of “cliché hardcore riffs” and “chugging” in previous albums, will be pleased upon listening to the newest release, Node. Throughout the record, sound fluctuates between shredding rhythms and leads, percussive twists, reverberating echoes and heavy hitting vocals (Marcus Bridge), drums (Nic Petterson), guitar (Josh Smith & John Deiley), and bass (Alex Milovic).
This combination of members, works, in my opinion. Everyone gets a turn in the forefront; between punchy breakdowns – such as in “Obelisk,” which feels like a call to arms against all that preys on our spirit – and the eerie calm that surrounds us in tracks like “Nameless.”
Along with stepping away from traditional hardcore riffs and progressions, Northlane does something else that I admire in contemporary music. They incorporate sociopolitical, spiritual, and psychological themes that help address the different states of mind that we, as humans, find ourselves in. Right at the start of the album, lyrically, “Soma” introduces us to such themes: “I see a prison of a city / destined to collapse / I see the worker bees buzzing in circles / fighting for scraps…”
While they delve into such darkness, heavy guitars and steady drums surround and echo as the punchy vocals stare you in the face; in certain moments (of hope, spiritual wake) the vocals will become enchanting echoes, subtly telling us to “breathe easy” as the lyrics in “Ohm” guide us to do.
Other tracks, such as “Impulse” are spastic, filled with cacophony and the subtlest ambient background. The track is a contemporary Western anthem, addressing themes of loneliness and attachment in the digital world. Near the end, voices sing “the walls are closing in” and the music follows, allowing us to feel the pressure of these metaphorical walls through the metallic drone closing in around us like an echo that spirals in, not out.
Overall, the album sounds good in the ears, feels good in the brain, and offers some light on humankind and how to stay awake yet calm in our 21st century Post-Modern World. While the ending track starts off with a bleak sentiment, “no map to guide us, no compass beside us,” it ends with a truth we should all come to terms with, universally:
“We’re not defined by the blueprint if we rewrite the plans. So will you repaint paradise with the stroke of an artist’s hand?”
Check out their trippy, official website for some studio diaries, audio/video of singles, merchandise and all relevant information about the band.
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