Almost completely out of the blue, Australia’s Northlane drop ‘Mesmer’, a clear exhibition of how modern metalcore should sound. The record plays out really well, with a medley of different music styles being brought together to make a harmonious blend of music that really backs up the lyrical content of the album.
The opening half of the record showcases vocalist Marcus Bridge‘s clean singing abilities. It’s here we see just how strong of a vocalist Bridge truly is, and, at points, the most unique sound from the metalcore outfit on ‘Mesmer’. ‘Solar’ and ‘Savage’ create a soft, atmospheric vibe during the sections of the songs where Bridge‘s clean vocals are present, with the former of the two being a sing along friendly track. With not much of the hallmark features of metalcore present at all, it creates a nice break in the record. ‘Savage’, however, mixes up the softer and heavier aspects of Northlane‘s sound, going from serene instrumentals and soft melodies under Bridge‘s vocals, to a full frontal assault on the ears from the entire band, with Bridge having a brilliant raw tone on heavier parts of the track.
The band aren’t ones to follow the crowd when it comes to lyrical content. ‘Heartmachine’ comes in with a groovy and gloomy riff from the get go. Whilst still a somewhat light track, we’re treated with driven bass from Alex Milovic and the guitars especially sound rather heavy, but are just suppressed within the mix. The track is also a very good example of the band’s heavy lyrical focus, just as other releases have. ‘Mesmer’ is rich with topics from the political to existential. The aforementioned ‘Heartmachine’ takes a questioning look at the human condition. The lyrics and riff echo each other, and a real sense of dread comes across throughout, “We suffer, unstable, pins and needles / We suffer, trapped in a heartmachine”.
However, the heaviest hitting track of the record is closing track ‘Paragon’. This is Northlane‘s homage to the late Architects songwriter and guitarist Tom Searle, who passed away last August after a 3-year long battle with cancer. The track is overflowing with references to the back catalogue of British outfit, and, while it doesn’t trigger the emotional depth of Searle‘s work, lines like “See you on the other side of that open door” will really hit home for any Architects fan.
In essence, Northlane have produced a well rounded effort with ‘Mesmer’, and have kept things fresh for an audience that is offered a plethora of metalcore bands that often sound far too similar. In a few too many parts, Northlane themselves succumb to echoing bands and records before them, but the lyrical content is real, gritty, and genuine, and, paired with their musical innovation, they prove that they’re ones to keep building with each release.
Written by Dec Sherry (@decxsherry)