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Australia's Northlane Opens Up Metalcore to Wider Skies on 'Node'

by Ryan Book   Aug 7, 2015 11:57 AM EDT

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Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at 'Blacked Out,' the new album from Northlane, a metalcore group relatively unknown to American listeners but well-publicized in their homeland of Australia.

08/07/2015  

WHO: Northlane

WHAT: Node

SPOT: 195

Another week and another metal band gets a chance to shine in the Back of The Billboards segment. Granted, Northlane may have barely cracked the albums chart in the United States with Node, but the same record went to no. 1 on the charts in the band's native Australia. Considering only Slipknot has accomplished the feat in the United States in recent years, that's a heck of an accomplishment for a metal act of any nationality.

It might not hurt that Northlane's approach to the metalcore genre is a bit more friendly (truly a relative term) than what one might expect. The clean vocals of new frontman Marcus Bridge are, well, cleaner than other bands from the subgenre. And while the group might take its name from a song by British metalcore act Architects, Northlane doesn't buy into the claustrophobic productions standards typical of that nation's 'core acts. In fact, band's adoption of a "progressive" persona results in a sound so wide open, it almost reaches doom-level.

There's work to be done in combining the two tastes however. Northlane gets out to a hot start with "Soma" and "Obelisk," but some of the numbers grasp at overused themes: "Leech" can hardly live up to the thematically-similar and instrumentally-superior "Ticks and Leeches," and "Impulse"s themes of tech overdose is a tired idea. Some more songwriting and planning could easily result in acclaim for this band...and all the sales that come with it.

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