Written by: PP on 27/07/2017 06:27:15

In the pop-driven corner of the metalcore scene, we find rapidly rising Aussie heroes Northlane. Following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Parkway Drive, their fourth album "Mesmer" is their latest effort in expanding their soundscape beyond mere straight up metalcore. Opening track "Citizen" offers a glimpse of what's to come by sounding a little bit like a Thrice song during its melancholic chorus. Similarly, "Colourwave" blends together rough metalcore growling and proggy guitars that borrow from the likes of Tool and A Perfect Circle, certainly a first for Northlane thus far.

It's a carefully managed balance throughout "Mesmer". On one hand, big, dynamic metalcore hooks and a post-hardcore influenced clean/scream dynamic are fairly derivative of the mainstays within the genre. These are then contrasted by dramatic, theatrical passages that vary between prog rock and melancholic alternative rock, though always falling back to the sharp screams and growls. "Solar" illustrates this approach well: its ambient effects recall Incubus' experimental material on "A Crow Left Of The Murder" without forgetting the heavier metalcore aspects in the background.

Still, the longer you venture through the album, the more it becomes clear that Northlane's aim, at least at some point in the future, is to drop the metalcore influence altogether and go for the grandiose atmospherics and mood-driven songs of Thrice. "Heartmachine" is but one track among many that hints as such: the guitars might be heavy, but the melancholic croons of vocalist Marcus Bridge are far-reaching and intended to float across arena-sized venues and still feel like the stage isn't quite big enough.

So given that context, how does "Mesmer" fare against the reeling depths of Thrice records? Admittedly, they still have some ways to go, but as far as songs like "Intuition" and "Zero-One" go, they're approaching a similar level of reward for time and effort spent by the listener. That's perhaps the biggest strength of "Mesmer" overall: the pop-driven hooks of the metalcore songs may draw in the mainstream scene audience, but those willing to give the record the time it needs will find larger-than-life melodies like "Fade" seamlessly merging with the back-chilling, inspiring songwriting depth found on "Heartmachine" and "Zero-One" to name but a few.

While not one for short-term thrills nor easy-listening sessions, "Mesmer" suggests Northlane are on the verge of a major breakthrough. After all, it takes extraordinary songwriting to impress critics and mainstream fans alike. It took some time, but Northlane have convinced this writer there's something real about the buzz and hype surrounding them.


Download: Solar, Heartmachine, Citizen, Fade
For the fans of: Thrice, As Cities Burn, The Overseer
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.03.2017
UNFD / Rise Records

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