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Album Reviews : Northlane – Mesmer

By on March 26, 2017

Australia’s Northlane are a great band, and they are also a very clever band, in a number of ways. The way they have kinda burst out of the blue with this, their fourth studio album, without the usual two to three month build-up of hype and promotion, shows great management smarts, and makes them stand out in a ridiculously crowded scene. It really seems to have made people stand up and take notice.

The band are very canny in the way in which they create their music too. Two of the larger sub-genres within the heavy music idiom right now are melodic metalcore/post-hardcore, and the prog/tech sound. Northlane walk a very fine line between the two rather skilfully. They delve just far enough into progressive and experimental territory to appeal to prog-heads like myself whilst still avoiding being so ‘widdly-diddly’ that they alienate your everyday, garden-variety post-hardcore kids.

And they carry on that tradition with Mesmer. Opening with excellent first single Citizen, itself only released a week or so prior to the album’s release, this album takes the listener on a voyage across surprisingly interesting soundscapes while still providing moshable grooves and huge, singalong choruses.

Many metalcore acts write to a very rigid, even contrived formula that they know is going to appeal directly to the many fans of this sub-genre across Australia and the rest of the world. Northlane do not. They take risks, they experiment, they shake things up. No one songs sounds like another, each tune has its own vibe, its own unique approach, its own identity. At the same time, it remains a tight, cohesive listen.

Best tracks are the aforementioned single Citizen, with its killer, and off-kilter, main riff, enormous groove and Marcus Bridge’s highly skilful and dynamic juxtaposition of throat-ripping screams and almost ethereal cleans, the ambient, emotional but still driving Savage, and Zero-One, where the brutality and experimentation come together to best effect. The production also walks a very nice line, it is neither too raw nor too slick.

Mesmer is a compelling and, dare I say it, mesmerising listen, end to end. Now that this album has been sprung upon an unsuspecting heavy music loving public, go buy it.

Band: Northlane
Album: Mesmer
Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive Metalcore
Label: UNFD
Origin: Australia

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.