Written by: TL on 12/03/2016 12:42:56

Sweden's Normandie - originally a metalcore band - is garnering some attention at the moment, on the back of their new album "Inguz", freshly released after signing to InVogue records. The record marks a sharper change of style than if Bring Me The Horizon had released "That's The Spirit" immediately after their debut "Count Your Blessings", as apparently there is no longer a screamer in Normandie. Some will no doubt call this their sellout album then while others will be curious to hear what it sounds like when a once metalcore outfit suddenly experiments with adapting to a grand radio rock format.

The answer, in a nutshell, is that when it works, it works, and when it doesn't, it doesn't. Cases of the former are "Collide" and "Loop Hole". "Collide" is adorned with all the glitchy little vocal effects and synths you would expect from a modern radio rock tune, yet works entirely within those premises courtesy of strong vocal lines and melodies throughout. And in general, vocalist Philip Strand fronts the band reasonably well, sounding fairly comfortable and powerful shifting from breathy verses to raspy, belted choruses.

Meanwhile, "Loop Hole" might not have as great a chorus as "Collide" - in fact its scratchiness maybe feels a bit too close to Linkin Park for comfort - but the whole build-up to it is tight, and the song is worth listening to if for no other reason then for the double-pedalling and guitar-chugging injection of heaviness that's seamlessly integrated in the midsection. Here more than anywhere else, you get a taste that the combination of fierce heaviness with radio rock production and songwriting methods could actually produce something interesting.

Whether that can be said of the album overall, though, is more up for debate. The sequence of "Calling", "Starting New" and "The Storm", feels awkward for instance. Both the former and latter include more shoutyness and metalcore-esque guitar work than anywhere else on the record, and somehow in between it's been decided there's a good place for "Starting New", a bouncy, colorful pop song that wouldn't be out of place on a newer Don Broco or Lower Than Atlantis record.

Eventually, the lingering impression is actually one of sympathy for Normandie's project: If the reception of Bring Me The Horizon's "That's The Spirit" tells us anything, it is that everyone loves to hear the powers of both heavier and catchier music joined efficiently. But it's also one of slight suspiciousness. Because it's hard to decide whether it feels like Normandie is owning the radio-rock approach, or if it's owning them - And it doesn't help that lyrically the record trades in typical "vaguely uplifting nonsense" that make the songs feel extra superficial upon closer listening.

So, an interesting mix of styles, a top notch production job, more than a few catchy tunes to hum along to, and at least one or two decisively impactful moments. Yet also some questionable lyricism and a bunch of unnecessary 'whoa-oh' moments and over-vocalising. Not entirely the perfect marriage of heaviness and radio-power, but then neither was "That's The Spirit", and that didn't seem to stop Bring Me The Horizon.


Download: Collide, Loop Hole
For The Fans Of: 30 Seconds To Mars, Linkin Park, Hands Like Houses, Issues

Release date 11.03.2016
InVogue Records

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