REVIEW: Norma Jean – Wrongdoers


Artist: Norma Jean
Album: Wrongdoers
Genre: Metal
Label: Razor & Tie

Unlike other artists that inhibited the 2000s boom of Christian metal, Norma Jean are clearly still significant and clearly still writing the best music of their career. Wrongdoers, the follow-up to the highly acclaimed 2010 release, Meridional, is an emotional ride of escalating proportions, leaving listeners mentally exhausted in the way every metal band wants their listeners to be.

The record contains absolutely everything a Norma Jean fan would want from a Norma Jean record, and then a little bit more. One will find proper doses of controlled chaos at times, such as ‘If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty,” and colossal progression at other instances, such as the nearly seven-minute opening track, “Hive Minds.” The record has its drawn out moments, but none go unjustified. When listening to certain tracks it feels as though the band is truly creating something larger than life, something many artists strive for, yet never achieve. For example, the reprise in “Funeral Singer” could be argued as the most emotional and monumental 5 minutes of the band’s longevity.

Any listener would have a difficult time finding a dull moment on this record. For example, “The Lash Whistled Like A Singing Wind” is one full minute of heavy, thrashing punk rock prepared to successfully instill whiplash across the greater U.S. The title track, “Wrongdoers,” is arguably the highlight number on the record. The song is heavy and emotional, technical and unique, loud and catchy…it is simply brilliant. The track weaves in and out of a down-tuned and appropriate chorus while still delivering one of the heaviest songs on the record.

As challenging and shocking as it may have been to accomplish, given the brilliance of Meridional, Wrongdoers is the best record of Norma Jean’s career. It is different then anything the band has ever released, yet still undeniably Norma Jean. The band have yet again explored new avenues of their genre while still never escaping the sound they have molded over the last decade.

Rating: 9.5/10
Review by Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)

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  • xdrewx

    Great review! Indeed this could be their best to date.

  • Ryan De La Hoz

    I’m a huge fan of the band. This album is mediocre at best. With the loss of 75% of the band members (75%!!!) there has also been a loss of quality. Even the album cover is terrible! It looks like a bad rip off of “Collection II” by Misfits ( Also, that pointless fifty second interlude is a sign of them grasping, trying to buffer the record and pad the running time. “Redeemer” already had them at the peak of their Thrice/Deftones esque sound and it worked well. Long Live Josh Scogin, and O’ God (although heavily influenced by “We Are The Romans” by Botch) was also a great record. The rank remains:

    #1. Bless The Martyr
    2. O’ God
    3. Redeemer
    4. Meridional
    5. Anti-Mother + Wrongdoers in a tie

  • Tyler Joseph Werner

    Dude if you think Bless the Martyr is their best you’re opinion is invalid, listen to The Chariot and get over Scogin Bless the Martyr was mostly break down riddled open chords and Scogin was nowhere near his best. O’ God may be Botch worship but it’s technical composition sends it miles above Bless the Martyr and I think Meridional was weak, in comparison to The Anti Mother, they sound tired on Meridional.

  • Ryan De La Hoz

    You are implying that “technical composition” is all that makes music good and my opinion is invalid because a record lacks it?

  • Ryan De La Hoz

    Surely it is acceptable for me to appreciate the foundation of the band, the first record – the cornerstone. An indispensable and ferocious addition to the early 2000’s “metal core” scene. A record that – when performed live in its entirety (as the new incarnation of Norma Jean with Corey did in 2009) – results in the highest ticket sales of their career? How dare I !

  • Tom Scooter Seiple

    O God was my first Norma Jean Record. I love everything the Chariot does, I go to the Chariot for metalcore that punches hard and doesn’t apologize, so arguing that Bless the Martyr is their best record… well let’s just say, it’s apples to oranges at this point. As for Norma Jean’s later records, O God is clearly a work of art that few will ever top, and Redeemer was a great follow up, I love both dearly. Anti-Mother and Meridional have some good songs, but if I’m honest, neither grabbed me, probably because they lacked the power and thought of O God or Redeemer. All that to say, this record channels it all. There’s a little of everything Norma Jean in the record, a slight flair of Underoath in a few songs (Someone needs to step up and fill those shoes, am I right?), and the clear power of the Chariot on several songs. It’s the perfect Post-Hardcore/Metalcore blend. The clean vocals are soooo welcoming, and the screams are classic Norma Jean. The only thing I could ask for a little more of is maybe a little less mud and a little more defined guitar work, but isn’t that Norma Jean has been known for in the last 3 records? I’ve fallen in love!