Overall Score: 8/10 songs: 8/10 vocals: 9/10 production: 8/10 Pros: Songs feel focused and varied throughout Cons: Seems too short
I’ll be the first to admit I was very late to the party when it comes to Northlane. I only really got into them during the Mesmer cycle, but I’m very glad I did as it was an album I enjoyed immensely. Needless to say, I’ve been anticipating a follow up for some time.
Alien is an album that totally took me off guard. Considering the aesthetic and themes that they have been using in promoting this is a very human-sounding record and in many ways the most accessible album they have released so far.
Details Matter kicks off the album in an unflinching manner, drums rain down, angular riffs swarm your ears and Marcus Bridge lets out the most ungodly prolonged scream known to humankind. It’s an abrasive and startling opening that grabs you by the throat and demands attention.
From one of their heaviest tracks straight to one of the catchiest. Bloodline is the highlight of the album and an easy choice of pre-release single. It’s heavy, but it has such a gorgeous chorus you will be smashing the repeat button just to hear it again and again, with the impassioned lyrics of “I was raised in hell. I made it out by myself. I was born to bleed, but blood runs wild and free” it’s a stirring sentiment that hits hard and stays with you.
4D creates a dubstep/breakbeat soundscape to build a dancefloor banger with another huge soaring chorus. Sonically it sounds like it was designed to smash clubs and venues when they drop it live. It’s a very unique song in the context of the album that sounds like Pendulum when they unleash their more metal tendencies.
Jinn is another brutish track that stomps in with huge dense riffs batter the listener into submission, playing back into their more Djent orientated roots that somehow manages to make them sound like Meshuggah runs through the filter of Skrillex.
Rift and Sleepless are the albums quieter tracks offering some rare moments of serenity amongst the chaos. Incidentally, they are the most Alien sounding tracks on the album, with a lot of the instrumentation stripped out them and replaced with a lot of synthesized sounds which help them to stand out amongst the album and really lend to the overall themes at play on the album.
Alien is an album and as a concept is a huge victory for Northlane that sees them spread their wings and they have allowed themselves to develop and mature, as well as pushing themselves as artists. What they have created here is an album that tells it’s stories as much through the sonic palette the band paints them with as it does the lyrics and vocals that are applied to them, creating a focused and refreshing release from a band who is only starting to scratch the surface of their capabilities.