Scraping Genius Off The Wheel

NORMA JEAN RE-BLESS THE MARTYR ON TOUR

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On select dates of their latest tour, Norma Jean have been playing an older, popular album of theirs in its entirety. That album, of course, is 2002’s Bless The Martyr, Kiss the Child, a metalcore landmark that numerous fans still argue has yet to be matched by the group’s subsequent releases. With so many reunions and anniversaries emerging, the concept of revisiting an album live on tour is not uncommon for metal bands these days. The Melvins covered Houdini for a short multi-city tour, Boris took on Feedbacker at New York’s All Tomorrow’s Parties fest and stoner doom demigods Sleep performed Holy Mountain at the Minehead, UK ATP, throwing in some Dopesmoker to boot! Hell, even stadium-fillers like Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band are trying their hand at it.

However, what makes Norma Jean’s choice of Bless The Martyr, Kiss the Child somewhat unusual is that the current incarnation of the band is radically different from the lineup from 2002.

Original vocalist Josh Scogin (whose band The Chariot is an opening act on the current tour) quit the band shortly after that album’s release, as did bassist Joshua Doolittle. Drummer Daniel Davison departed the band in following a tour that culminated in New York City in November of 2007. So the only Norma Jean members left from the Bless The Martyr, Kiss the Child days are guitarists Chris Day and Scottie Henry. Now the band’s popularity has soared with Cory Brandan on vocals, and even though many were unsatisfied with the more accessible The Anti-Mother I happened to love it enough to include in my Best Albums of 2008 list.

So how did it sound live this past Saturday at New York’s Gramercy Theatre? Damn good, actually. Breakout single “Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste” sounded fucking fantastic, and the crowd went apeshit upon hearing it’s instantly recognizable opening riffs. Scogin even joined the band for a couple tracks (check out the video above), at one point finding himself sucked into the audience while Brandan attempted to reel him back in. The Anti-Mother opener “Vipers, Snakes, And Actors” and new track “Kill More Presidents” were the only two of the set’s tracks that didn’t come from Bless The Martyr, Kiss the Child. All in all, it was a raucous and thoroughly satisfying concert, though I’m selfishly eager to hear more from their as-yet untitled upcoming album, due on Razor & Tie in 2010.

-GS

[Gary Suarez used to hate cell phones but now he hates car accidents. He manages the consistently off-topic No Yoko No. Say, why don’t you follow him on Twitter?]

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