On My Playlist: Top 5 Norma Jean Songs

Norma Jean is one of the quintessential bands in the Metalcore scene and, after numerous lineup changes, is still going strong.
They toured South Africa in 2016 and put on shows to remember as their aggressive sound and unique off-beat riff struck a chord with many fans. Norma Jean continues to cross boundaries and strive for new sounds and their entire discography is extremely diverse. In this top 5 list, I look at some of their most recent albums only (in other words, since 2010.)
Norma Jean consists of: Cory Brandan Putman – lead vocals, additional guitars; Jeff Hickey – lead guitars and Phillip Farris – rhythm guitars, backing vocals.
Honourable mentions: ‘If You’ve Got It At Five (You’ve Got It At Fifty)’, ‘Bastardizer’, ‘The Potter Has No Hands’, ‘Reaction’.
5. Deathbed Atheist
This is one of Norma Jean’s more powerful songs, a real slow burner that focuses on the vocalist, Cory Putman’s raspy vocals as he screams a rallying cry. This is from the viewpoint of an atheist in his final hours, knowing that he needs to make a choice or endure eternal suffering. The chorus is one of their best and the melody flows brilliantly with the aggressive and diverse tempos of the guitars from Hickey and Farris. ‘Bury your hands in the sand. You’ll never use them on me again. I’m exhausted from shaking hands with your meat hook fingers,’ is one of the most visceral lyrics that the band has written.

4. Everybody Talking Over Everybody Else
Norma Jean’s latest album, Polar Similar has a few brilliant tracks and this one is a testament to this. The guitar intro is addictive and, alongside Putman’s fierce lyrics, especially in the pre-chorus, flows perfectly with the more melodic chorus. This is a typical example of the style that Norma Jean produces with dropped and distorted guitars creating a real dirty sound. The lyrics, ‘Every sorrow, every misery can and will be brought to life if you put it in a story or a lie. Every sentence that you recognise’, are my favourite in this song that focuses on seeing the light and waking up from negativity.

3. 1 000 000 Watts
The ominous guitar feedback, combined with the slow-building mega-riff, makes this a classic Norma Jean song. If you do not bang your head with this riff, then you need to get yourself checked. The addition of different lead guitar parts in the verse, together with pounding drumming, also takes this song into the chorus, which slows things down again. The guitar riff forms the foundation of this song and its repetition in various forms makes it special. The distorted guitar breakdown in the bridge is also something to look out for.

2. Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes
The music video alone is a unique aspect of this song from their 2013 album, Wrongdoers. The song has a typical Norma Jean guitar riff to open things up before a bass- and drum-dominated verse with the soothing, clean vocals of Putman tying things up. The verse is beautifully written: ‘We calmly weigh our thoughts before we know them. Careful not to break our only scale. But there’s no lament in taking chances. Fall a little while before we soar,’ as it focuses on the need to grow and take chances in order for that to happen. The chorus is also a soaring affair with Putman delivering a brilliant vocal performance to drive the point home.

1. Wrongdoers
The guitar riffs, vocal delivery of the lyrics and overall message makes this the number one song. There is so much aggression and the fact that everyone makes mistakes and repeats them is one of the themes. In essence, when are we, as a society, going to learn from them? The lyrics, ‘We make love to the same mistakes and never get tired,’ are my favourites. The breakdown riff in the bridge, where Putman screams at full tilt is something to be heard.

Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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