Northlane have had to endure the difficult task of replacing their vocalist, after frontman Adrian Fitpaldes had to leave the band due to health reasons. The gap is now filled by the aggressive yet mellow Marcus Bridge, who takes to the helm for the Australian band’ third full-length, as they look to dominated Europe as they have in their homeland. ‘Node’ takes on the heavy hits of metalcore with the band’s trademark prog riffs, but fails to maintain a high standard throughout and some tracks scream for the skip button.
Back in November, ‘Rot’ became the first song to showcase Bridge with the Northlane microphone and set the tone for the whole album. Down-tuned strings and layered sections are present for the prog feel, but it’s Bridge who steals the show as he delves into those low growls for an excitingly heavy climax.
The metalcore aspects of ‘Node’ prove to be the most fluid on the album, with the psychedelic/atmospheric interest of the band’s repertoire fading dramatically as the album goes on. Recent single ‘Impulse’ has the mixture just right, and has a catchy hook that the band were screaming out for, while ‘Ra’ ups the ante with pulsing growls and purposeful verses.
Unless you’re a devout progressive metal fan and regularly get stuck into TesseracT and Devin Townsend, then ‘Node’ can easily go right over your head. The instrumental ‘Nameless’ seems essentially pointless, and although ‘Weightless’ has the positives of vocals, it wanders aimlessly into nowhere for well over 5 minutes.
As you delve into your fifth or sixth listen, it becomes clear that the search for a new talented vocalist was so important for Northlane, as backbone Bridge keeps the songs together with his vocal variety. Despite the obviously gifted craftsmanship in the music, when the vocals disappear, so does the intent and imagination.
The first song on an album should be invigorating and fill the listener with a desperate want to hear the album, but ‘Soma’ gets ‘Node’ off to a flat start from the off with minimal excitement. Single ‘Obelisk’ swoops in to somewhat the save the day, but the inconsistency is already evident just two songs in, and the album struggles to shake off the first impression.
Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef)