With the promise of a return to the “nastier”, more direct Norma Jean of old, we can forgive long-time fans for salivating at the prospect of something more traditionally rabid, especially given the solid if patchy explorations of 2011’s ‘Meridional’. Even after helping to define the genre almost a decade ago, ‘Wrongdoers’ sees the Georgia five-piece on terrifying form, kicking with a fearsome clout to rival any current heavy hitters topping the game.
After the slow burning churn of opener ‘Hive Minds’ steadily ups the ante, it’s not until the lunging bile of ‘If You’ve Got It At Five, You’ve Got It At Fifty’ that we’re treated to some vintage Norma Jean, all writhing structure and abrasive riff work. Indeed, from the veritable beatdown banquet which closes a venomous ‘Potter Has No Hands’ through to ‘The Lash Whistled Like A Singing Winds’ brief bounce and grind, ‘Wrongdoers’ is a record which revels in going for the throat.
Closing track, ‘Sun Dies, Blood Moon’, may meander with some post-rock leanings and instrumental expansionisms, and ‘Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes’ boasts an ear-worm chorus hook, yet it’s the precise bursts of skin flaying energy where this sixth offering really excels.
Snarling and stomping with the intensity of an outfit half their age, ‘Wrongdoers’ is testament to Norma Jean‘s enduring dynamism and potency. It perhaps may fall slightly short of recapturing the biting grit of the band’s early opuses, but with a sound so thoroughly bloodthirsty, this record does confirm anyone to have written these veterans off to be unmitigated idiots.
Written by Tony Bliss