Ya’ll. Holy goddamn shit. I still remember NORTHLANE’S debut record absolutely blowing my mind years ago, and it feels like I’ve been waiting on some sort of return to that level of intensity this entire time for some reason. It’s not that their other records are inherently bad, they just didn’t have that wow factor I was looking for, which Alien (out now, UNFD) brought by the absolute goddamn truck load.
It’s dark, brooding, and emotive. The overall tonality of this album feels more like a much needed confession of life struggle to a therapist, and nothing like a regular “I fukin h8 dat binch” metalcore record. Honestly, come to think of it, screams/breakdowns are pretty much where the similarities to this album and other metal albums stop. If you’re looking for a record which is gonna make you stare at your listening device with a visibly confused expression every now and again, this is the one for you.
I’ve never been huge into the industrial feel on a lot of records, as I find it to be super cheesy nine times out of ten. I think the boys in NORTHLANE reeaally nailed the vibe on this one though. They’re not making abrasive noises and dance breaks for the hell of it; they’re truly implementing electronics into the threshold of the song’s vision. “Jinn” in particular has this ugly breakdown utilizing some 808 kicks/bass, high gain guitars, and club-oriented snares that just sound like a mother fucking wall of noise coming down on top of you. It’s one of the more creative uses of EDM in metal that I’ve heard in a long while, and I appreciate that.
I thought drum & bass style electronic music was relatively extinct, and I was for sure convinced that drum & bass rock anthems were completely wiped from this Earth, but then these fuckers wrote “4D”. I haven’t been so pleasantly surprised by a track in a very, very long time. Those first couple of low notes hit and I couldn’t help but sit in anticipation, then the huge synth pads come right after and holy GODDAMN FUCK I got the giggles. Honestly, was not expecting that, but that’s some hot damn A1 content right there, boys.
It feels like NORTHLANE threw caution to the wind. It feels like they made a record they wanted to make. It feels like they have a renewed vigor and hellish intent. It feels goddamn good to hear it. We don’t get albums like Alien often, and we sure as hell don’t get them with such incredible mix quality, so don’t take it for granted. Drink it in, and be deeply concerned that your band will likely never put out a record as good as this. I know I am.
STANDOUT TRACKS: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM