Ritual marks twenty years since Arizona-based thrash-groove metal band Soulfly’s debut release. As their eleventh …
It’s not surprising that Aussie juggernaut Northlane would treat album #4 like a truth-bomb, ready to be dropped on an unsuspecting public.
No longer concerned with member shuffles, Mesmer finds the metalcore five-piece operating as a cohesive, collective unit. Kicking off with Citizen, frontman Marcus Bridge’s vocals are self-assured; his screams benefitting from added grit and depth alongside stratospheric choruses.
While the message behind pre-release single Intuition (“Question everything!” and “Fuck this system!”) appeals to the Internet’s ‘stay woke’ fixation, it can feel like a tired and uninspired platitude. Lyrically, when the five-piece ditch their dire, philosophical tech-warnings, they wade right into ruminations on mortality and permanence—and the results are striking.
When the band fires on all creative cylinders, they elevate their performances to breathtaking levels of destructive bliss.
Fade is an absolute, melodic banger that laments the loss of loved ones, while standout track Veridian acts as a poignant ode to dignity in death, resting on the band’s strongest and most thought-provoking chorus to date (“Bed of nails under the guillotine/Wake me up when my heart stops beating”). Heavier cuts like Render are emboldened by drummer Nic Pettersen’s impeccable fills, whereas the brilliant Zero-One marks a return to the progressive explorations on Singularity. Delicate interplay from guitarists Jon Deiley and Josh Smith bleeds into a soaring crescendo, as the track descends into a manic, asymmetric blitz of discordance and jagged riffs.
However, the sequencing on Mesmer is regrettably uneven, leaving most of the album’s early tracks feeling repetitive; unfortunate victims of a ‘plug-and-play’ structural formula. The saving grace of Mesmer is its stellar second half, and when the band fires on all creative cylinders, they elevate their performances to breathtaking levels of destructive bliss. This is the Northlane the people want and deserve.
Stick This Next To: Erra, Deftones, In Hearts Wake
Standout Tracks: Render, Zero-One, Veridian, Fade