Northlane - Obsidian (Believe)
When the world is at its quietest, sometimes it is easier to find words then than it is in times of overpowering noise and sound. Despite reaching a point of feeling like "I didn't really have much to say" over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, due in large part to the constant isolation, Northlane vocalist Marcus Bridge did indeed have plenty to share with the world.
The result is Bridge, along with guitarists Jon Deiley and Josh Smith, and drummer Nic Pettersen, coming together to create Obsidian, the sixth studio album from the Australian quartet.
Continuing off the deep personal content explored on 2019's Alien, the new album factors in the backlash that came after the band's last offering. Bridge admitted to feeling "like I had upset...people who were close to me" due to the themes from three years ago.
With this in mind, Obsidian begins with the synth heavy "Clarity", a fast paced track that is one part apology for hurting anyone, but also, one part self vindication that Bridge deserved to be heard and still has much to say and share. An applaudable stance indeed.
Not afraid to cross genre lines, "Carbonized" treads into territory where bands like Combichrist and Aesthetic Perfection call home. A little bit of aggro-tech mixed with synthwave and metalcore, all tied together with a chilling cry of "I've got no heroes anymore". For those still hungry for more synth leads, tune to "Plenty" and it's lush textures over low tuned staccato guitars.
Entering into nearly industrial territory, "Is This A Test" would certainly get the thumbs up from Dope for its danceability. Bridge's voice really shines on "Nova" where, at the risk of extreme debate from diehard Linkin Park fans, memories of the late Chester Bennington come to mind. In fact, let these fans listen to this beautiful track and hear for themselves; they will not be disappointed.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
In December 2013, I was working at a national musical instrument retail store you might have heard of. One night, a band came in to pick up some last minute things for their show in town later in the evening. After helping them with their stuff and chatting with them a bit, they told me to come to the show and I would be on their guest list.
That band was Northlane, who were playing my little town in Connecticut at a sold out show alongside Veil of Maya, Vildhjarta, and Here Comes the Kraken.
All these years later, it is wonderful to see them still going and continuing to push the limits of metalcore by way of heavy synths and clean vocals. Could we be entering into a era of synthcore that we haven't seen yet? If so, Northlane is definitely leading the charge.
I appreciate Marcus Bridge's honesty in his lyrics, as well as his wide range of vocal stylings. Likewise, the rest of the band has only gotten stronger over time as musicians and songwriters. It might be some time before we get to Northlane outside of their homeland, but here's hoping the wait is not long.
Visit your local record store to pick up a copy of Obsidian, out 21 April on Believe.
Advanced copy courtesy of Atom Splitter PR and Believe