The explosive energy of Norma Jean’s “Wrongdoers” is enough to make any person fall in love with the alternative hardcore sound that this album brings to the listener.
This album combines sounds of metalcore screaming with hard rock guitar riffs. Norma Jean shows that you can still have an influential hardcore album without the stereotypical repeated breakdown in every song. Throughout “Wrongdoer” you will hear cleans that resemble many alternative rock/metal bands like Five Finger Death Punch or even Three Days Grace. This aspect of the album shows the diversity that Norma Jean brings to the genre with their newest release.
“Wrongdoers” opens up with “Hive Minds” by starting off the album with a drum buildup leading into the main part of the song. As soon as the song kicks in, you’ll find yourself immersed in a sound consistent throughout the album. This sound lays down the groundwork for other notable tracks like “Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes” and “Funeral Singer”. These songs represent the album well with their sporadic energy and distinctive sound. The track “Afterhour Animals” connects the following songs in a fashion that, although seen before, works better than when most bands try it.
Although there, this album falls short in few places. One of those places being notable is that some songs drag out on instrumental breaks that seem to fill more time than anything else. Way too many bands make the mistake of writing out instrumental ambiance to take up the majority of a perfectly good song. This can be heard at the end of “Sun Dies, Blood Moon”. Even though it is the closing song and possible even interesting at first, it prolongs the atmosphere of the album as well as diminishes the listener’s attention.
The most important thing to take away from this album is that it expands the boundaries of the hardcore genre. Although some songs on the album (like “Sun Dies, Blood Moon”) completely separate the sound of “Wrongdoers” from hardcore or even metalcore, the essence of the style is hardcore at heart. Norma Jean pulled off the sound of a hardcore band but with the style of something that mimics an alternative metal band. This type of album, as well as the band, is something that needs to be produced more often from bands. An album that breaks the boundaries, an album that that expands the mind of the listener, an album that can influence other bands to stray from the cookie-cutter path that is so heavily traveled.