Northlane - 'Singularity'

Northlane - 'Singularity'

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Djent was an exciting genre when it first appeared as the dark, syncopated off shoot from math and metalcore but soon became as stale as your grandma’s chips. Enter, Northlane. After dropping their debut album in 2011 to much critical and (relative) commercial success, the metal community waited with baited breath as little hints and the like were dropped about the release of their sophomore album, Singularity. Re-invigorating djent with sprinklings of metalcore, Northlane see to it that you never get to used to any groove, become too familiar with any drum beat or have any idea of what is around the corner; And this is almost where they come unstuck. By creating such a brutal and unforgiving soundscape, it’s hard to distinguish between songs, and bar the two lead singles there is nothing at all ‘catchy’ about the tracks.

Now, we're both physicists, so when you see the album title 'Singularity', and track names like 'Quantum Flux', as well as some of the awkward phrases like "Quantum fluctuations project into the air", which to us makes very little sense. We'll throw it away though, because obviously when you make killer music you've earned yourself self a bit of breathing space in the collar.

"You think you see the world; I'll tell you nothing's how it seems" - Frontman Adrian Fitipaldes screams at you with conviction, inciting feelings of doubt on the larger scale, on the lead single 'Worldeater'. This track is one of Northlane's strongest to date, and i s agreat showcase of the unique blend of brutality these guys have become infamous for. The huge down-tuned guitar tracks are a highlight, with the aforementioned catch-cry foreshadowing the dystopian vibe of the song. 

The emotion embodied in this song resonates throughout the album in all aspects of the sound. The harsh vocals are aided by forceful drums, huge guitars that are juxtaposed against 'chimey' keyboards and distant guitar melodies that dictate the mood. These juicy blends are scattered throughout the album like gems in Crash Bandicoot. 

Proof of Northlane's credibility is shoved in your face on the second track 'Scarab', as well as the two singles off the album 'Worldeater' and 'Quantum Flux' (where clean vocals are primarily used and they seem to make it work). It's similarly supported by tracks 'Windbreaker' and 'Masquerade'. Though tracks like 'Aspire' and 'The Calling' are pretty forgettable. 

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After many, many listens, we've come to notice that the breakdowns don't hit as hard as you'd normally like; they seem to lack a bit of firepower and grunt. Whether this is because bands like Parkway Drive, I Killed The Prom Queen and more recently House vs. Hurricane have dictated what an Australian metalcore/hardcore band should sound like; or perhaps Northlane are trying to carve their own niche into the very apt scene (which we can only assume they are).

At first listen, the beginning of the penultimate eponymous track, 'Singularity', really didn't work, but then if you give the content of the spoken word a chance it acts to reaffirm a lot of the message and goal Northlane have been forcing into your brain via your ear-hole. This is probably one of their biggest strengths, and was similarly present on 'Discoveries'; Northlane always appear to be precise in what they are doing, nothing ever feels like too much or too little. This appears to be a concise execution of an idea that they want to present. 

All things considered, we're not sure this is, in fact, "better", than 'Discoveries', but it's a determined, brave and captivating album that has proved Northlane are here to stay, and with no "Sophomore blues" in sight. 'Singularity' takes what Northlane did on their first album, as well as what other bands are doing, and attempted to refine it to perfection, and haven't fallen far of that. You could probably imagine the band as being that person who won't move on from something until they've mastered it; they've come very close here so expect ground-breaking things from them in years to come.

8.7/10

Luke Bartlett & Sean Coffey

Northlane - 'Scarab'

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