O God, The Aftermath

Norma Jean

Solid State, 2005

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/01/2005

Good morning, class, and welcome to "Remedial Noise Rock 101." I'm Mr. Thelen, your instructor. Today, we're going to review the major mistakes a group can make when releasing an album and how they could have been avoided.

Our subject for today's discussion is Georgia grind-rockers Norma Jean and their sophomore release, O God, The Aftermath. Now, I'm not forgetting that this was essentially a re-birth for the group, as they had replaced their singer and bassist since their previous release Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child, so a bit of uncertainty could be expected -- even forgiven -- from Norma Jean. But they are still an established band, and they make several big mistakes with this release. We'll try to cover them all in one class period, so try to save your questions until the end of class.

First things first, the cardinal mistake made: Don't piss off the reviewer by making things difficult for them. I've been doing this gig long enough to know that occasionally we get sent material that is still in the "final polishing" phase, and I can live with that. But to send a reviewer a disc with copy protection that you have to install (sorry, I don't install programs I don't know anything about), and each track broken up into 30- to 60-second snippets to prevent copying or posting to file-sharing services -- Jesus, I needed a fuckin' schematic to figure out which track I was on, and by the end of the disc, I really didn't care. Memo to Solid State Records: if this is how you send review copies out, don't bother sending me any more. (And, for the record: I have my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 never posted any pre-release CD on any file-sharing service. I don't like the inference a disc like this sends to me -- namely, that I, as a reviewer, am to blame for the file-sharing mess the industry finds itself in. How dare you.)

Okay, now that I'm off my soapbox, lesson two: I admit that I'm getting old and that each new generation is supposed to have music that confounds the previous. But would it kill anyone to include a copy of the lyrics so I could at least pretend I was able to follow the songs? (Keep in mind, I'm working off a pre-release copy; possibly the commercial release does include them.)

Lesson three: unless you have music that really backs up your whimsy, giving songs double-meaning names doesn't mean shit. Even glancing at the track listing on the disc, I had to groan a bit when I saw song titles like "Bayonetwork," "Disconnecktie" and "Charactarantula." Using clever names like these doesn't make you more like Tool.

Lesson four: when you've lost the listener's interest due to the first three faults, you really need to have music that slams home the point that you're a band to be taken seriously. And, I'm sorry, gang, but I didn't hear much of that on O God, The Aftermath. The listener goes from the atonal pounding on "Murderotica" to some semblance of musicianship on "Bayonetwork" and "Delemmachine," but Cory Brandan's undecipherable screams keep me from gaining any new insight into this band. The only real glimmer of hope comes on "Disconnecktie," which features some of the best songwriting and playing on the disc, and did get me interested in this disc again for a few minutes.

Granted, most of these criticisms will fall on deaf ears, and fans of the noise-rock genre will get a thrill slam-dancing to O God, The Aftermath. But Norma Jean has a long way to go before I hold them up in comparison to such bands as, say, Nine Inch Nails or Pantera.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Solid State, and is used for informational purposes only.