The 2011 Arsies: January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011

Norma Jean starts off today's action, and... oh my. If (like me) you'd previously written off the band as ugly noisemakers, their fifth album may have escaped your notice as probably forgettable. And there you'd be wrong. Combining the heaviest parts of Deftones and Thrice, "Meridional" goes for the throat. At the same time, their relentless heaviness is matched by some infectious ear candy (both in terms of their vocal stylings and some surprisingly bluesy riffs). And sure, there's still plenty of chaos here as well. The result is clearly an album by a band that is finally knowing their own strengths.
Meanwhile, it's time to talk about The Ocean. In 2010, they released two full length albums, intended as a one-two punch not unlike Opeth's classic "Deliverance/Damnation" couplet. "Anthropocentric," the second album, isn't quite as ballad-heavy as "Damnation", but it still is the more melodic of the two albums from The Ocean, and more importantly today, it's way softer than "Meridional." It's also more cerebral, and in places that bogs the album down (especially when combined with its Isis-like swagger). So while The Ocean tries to get into your mind, Norma Jean wins by aiming lower.
Tomorrow, the second (or rather the first) album from The Ocean, versus Oceano. Either way, something something Ocean.

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