NORMA JEAN’S THE ANTI-MOTHER IS A SNORE DE FORCEEver had really good foreplay followed by really mediocre sex? It sucks, doesn’t it?

During “Vipers, Snakes and Actors,” the opening track from Norma Jean’s new album The Anti-Mother, I actually became optimistic that I was hear the band return to form after the steaming pile of failure that was their last album, Redeemer. Don’t get me wrong – Norma Jean was never a great band by any stretch of the imagination – but on their Convergian O’ God, the Aftermath and especially Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child, the Christian rockers made music that was loud, raw, and chaotic; it kept you on your toes because you never knew quite where it was going. “Vipers” promises more of the same, a complete one-eighty from the polished, bland, by-the-numbers pseudo-punk of Redeemer.

And then the second song on the album kicks in.

To be fair, it seems like Norma Jean are trying to strike some kind of balance on Anti-Mother, something somewhere in-between Redeemer and Bless the Martyr. The problem is that more than half the album is dominated by Redeemer-style music (“Self-Emplyed Chemist,” “Robots 3 Humans 0,” “Surrender Your Sons,” etc.), Cory Brandan Putman vocalist Cory Brandan Putman at his whiniest and most nasally over recycled punk and metalcore riffs – and even when the band strives to re-create the high of “Vipers,” they usually fall short (“Death of the Anti-Mother”). Kind of surprisingly, guest spots from Page Hamilton and Chino Moreno don’t help at all (even if they do give the album a little boost of cred).

The results are an album that’s boring and completely forgettable. I just can’t imagine anyone needing to listen to this album for any reason, ever. There’s too many better bands doing what Norma Jean are trying, and failing, to do. Whatever fire powered Bless the Martyr is gone; all we’re left with is another boring band whose new video will be shown on Headbanger’s Ball too many times.

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(1 ½ out of 5 horns)


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