Northlane is admittedly a band I have never listened to. No particular reason, they have just never crossed my path. That is until now. You see the band just surprise released their newest album Mesmer with only a days notice. I decided now was as good a time as any to delve into their world and see what the fuss was about.
The first thing that struck me about this album was the guitar tone. They have a guitar tone that doesn’t sit well with me. It comes across more like a thudding block of sound, rather than individual riffs. It makes it hard for me to wrap my head around it, as a singular sound rather than series of riffs. There are moments where it is more prevalent than others, but it is a minor gripe.
Mesmer is extremely well-layered. The heavy moments, both musically and emotionally hit with appropriate force meaning they gain the desired reaction. The most interesting thing to me though is the vocals. This is where an album usually makes or breaks things for me. Vocalist Marcus Bridge has an incredible voice full of range that manages to convey so many different emotions at once. I will admit that I much prefer the songs where he is clean singing more over the ones where he sings and screams equally. The screaming vocals get the job done, but I feel more invested in his clean vocals, as they draw me in more.
There are some truly breathtaking moments on Mesmer in the form of ‘Savage’, and ‘HeartMachine’. The album also ends on a somewhat heartbreaking note with ‘Paragon’ a song dedicated to late Architects guitarist Tom Searle. It is a soaring gut punch that will stay with you long after the album has finished.
Given the fact I had never listened to Northlane before. I found myself spinning this album a fair amount, with each new listen it grew on me more and more. It feels like they are a band that may be slightly too progressive for my tastes at times. I found Mesmer to be an exciting and far more emotional listen than I was expecting.
Northlane may be a band that I don’t go back to often, but it is hard to deny how good this album is. There is a real intelligence, warmth and passion here that you don’t find with most bands. This is music with real heart and soul, that will keep you invested throughout. Mesmer is an album that demands attention, give it yours and you will be richly rewarded.