WORDS: Jim Forsyth
2013’s Singularity marked the second album progressive/metalcore band NORTHLANE had released, earning the number 3 spot in Australia’s ARIA chart in the process. In late 2014, vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes announced his departure due to health reasons, leaving the spot to be filled by Marcus Bridge. Node is the band’s first album release since that lineup change, and it brings a fantastic new twist to the band’s already well-established sound.
The album opens incredibly strongly with Soma – a track that’s very atmospheric but not overwhelmingly engulfing. It almost serves as a demonstration of the band’s versatility, Jon Deiley and Marcus Bridge’s presence is very prominent in this track.
Obelisk follows and isn’t particularly heavy when compared to tracks from Singularity – it instead comes across as very reserved and the heavier chorus makes the piece stand out. Obelisk is more progressive, but remains very well established. Nic Petterson’s drumming is phenomenally paced and is the highlight of the song, but the entire band’s tightness really shows throughout.
Node, the album’s title track, sees the band’s skills in amalgamating prog and metalcore shine through – Bridge’s screaming vocals coupled with Josh Smith’s brilliant crunchy tone wraps together alongside prog-esque riffs and a stellar lead to make Node an incredibly punchy track that is incredibly memorable.
Ohm again shows NORTHLANE’S skills in combining genres, but this is a different style entirely, the instrumentation screams KARNIVOOL and it definitely leans towards a more progressive sound. Repeated lines are the staple in this track, and that works incredibly well – this is a song that you could imagine a live crowd singing along to.
Nameless begins almost like an intermission that continues to draw you into the album – it builds and builds until Bridge’s vocals signal a change in atmosphere. This vocal build up is complemented by Nic Petterson’s fantastic fills on the drums, until a rather rapid calming track slowly fades the track to an end.
Next up is Rot, a track that had already been released as a single, but has since been re-recorded for Node. This one is simply an awesome song – heavy, proggy, bassy, all mixed together to perfection. The bass of Alex Milovic stands out here tying the guitars in really nicely.
Leech follows the rest of the album stylistically, again a mixture of both prog and metalcore influences can definitely be heard. NORTHLANE as a whole are on top form with this track, there is no real dominance of any particular element. The group are tight, incredibly so, and the sense of polish and perfection is incredibly present with this song.
Impulse starts off heavy, a different approach compared to the rest of the album. The change-up occurring one minute in is totally unexpected and shows the band’s capabilities well. That sort of shift within a song is very prog but what really sells it is the fact that the strings, drums and vocals blend together so well.
Next is Weightless, a slow paced and very calming track which build up to a very powerful mid-section, and does so extremely well. You fall into this pacing as it flows through the song, and as the sound gets fuller and fuller it becomes enveloping.
Ra easily has one of the album’s best introductions, and shoots straight into an aggressive verse. Bridge’s vocals suit this style down to the ground and Petterson’s drumming really shines through. There’s a pleasant mix of metalcore in the verses here but pleasantly, Ra goes just a touch lighter for its chorus.
Finally Animate, a very diverse ending track – an awesome mix of clean and heavy vocals, its differentiated riffs really livening up the piece. To top it off towards the end some more groovy riffs drop into the song, before halting for a beautiful vocal section. Easily a highlight, it closes off the album perfectly.
Node is a phenomenal display of NORTHLANE’S ability to restructure and rediscover, a solid album that is recommended for both prog and metalcore fans alike. Bridge has clearly melted into the boiling pot of talent that are NORTHLANE, stepped up to the plate and proven that he has what it takes to join such a well established band.