There are certain bands in the Australian music scene that when they announce their new album, you circle in the date on your calendar – 22nd April in this case – and wait with baited breath.
When that band takes huge strides between albums creatively, lyrically and emotionally yet still remain unequivocally true to their roots, you know it’s going to be something special. That band is Northlane.
Last time out the band dropped Alien, musically a leap into bringing EDM elements as a core of the bands sound the same as the guitars, which lyrically matured as Marcus Bridge brought his painful past to the fore. While the past was dark, flavouring the album, the fact Bridge was there singing gave it a positive feel.
Obsidian was created in the aftermath, as Bridge dealt with his revelations amongst his family, coupled with contrasting fortunes of a successful album and the appearance of a pandemic. The lyrics are for the here and now and that struggle is not pretty.
Yet as true artists it makes for a sonically challenging, adventurous and astounding album. The boundaries are pushed again as Jon Deiley brings the programming to the fore, none more so than Is This A Test, Cypher and Abomination which essentially are dance tracks with bludgeoning guitars with Bridges emotional clean and dirty vocals balanced on a knife-edge throughout.
Opening track Clarity is a throwback to an earlier sound yet mature, like an hardened warrior showing the impetuous youth how this art is actually executed.
If you’ve followed Northlane from the start, tracks such Clockwork, Echo Chamber and Carbonized are the next natural step on the bands journeys. The music is sharp and pounding while Bridge vocals lead you on a journey through his mind like a roller coaster.
In Xen, Bridges delivery is all snarling, aggressive spitting, complimenting the bands energy infused guitar work which is topped off with a great melody for measure. This contrasts with the ethereal Nova showcasing Bridges ability to sing like an angel, touching the depths of your soul.
Inamorata and Plenty display the progressive side of the band, as they Deiley, Josh Smith and Nic Pettersen shake up the standard riff after riff with time changes galore all anchored around building vocals.
Finishing with title track Obsidian and Dark Solitaire the band let loose musically. The tracks all heavy, brooding and wall shaking brilliant as album number 6 closes.
Northlane have taken another step into the great unknown and as true musical innovators they have opened another world to our ears. Once again they’ve paved the way for everyone else to follow.
Album Review By Iain McCallum