ALBUM REVIEW: Northlane – ‘Mesmer’

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Northlane, the kings of keeping secrets, revealed their unexpected new album Mesmer last week. This is the second surprise release from the Sydney heavyweights, after suddenly dropping a co-EP with UNFD label mates In Hearts Wake last year. Mesmer is Northlane’s first full album since their 2015 release Node, and is their second album with Marcus Bridge behind the mic. Recorded in New Jersey in September, Mesmer is the start of a new era for Northlane. Producer David Bendeth, who has worked with artists such as Bring Me The Horizon and Paramore, brought his expertise to the studio to help hone in on Northlane’s unique sound.

Off the back of an extensive run of shows in 2016, and after a huge positive response headlining the first night at UNIFY 2017, Northlane’s release of Mesmer has been timed to perfection. Featuring eleven tracks in total, Mesmer is described as Northlane’s “most organic yet precise album yet”. Although it is still a traditional Northlane release and overall holds a similar composition to previous work, the band have been experimenting with new sounds and new ways of creating music. Slightly steering away from the more conventional metalcore sound, Mesmer presents underlying alternative rock vibes throughout the album. Northlane’s distinctive bass guitar work provides Mesmer with its heavy roots, but this is contrasted with more mellow rhythm guitar, like in track ten, ‘Veridian’.

Track one, ‘Citizen’, starts off in true Northlane fashion, with heavy bass guitar providing a high energy intro full of anticipation. Composed similarly to ‘Quantum Flux’, the opening track on Northlane’s debut album Discoveries, ‘Citizen’ maintains energy and interest with its strong melodies, and sets the tempo for the rest of the album.

Leading into track two, ‘Colourwave’, we get the first taste of Northlane’s new direction. The foundation of rock with heavy undertones is a feature that stays true to Northlane’s past, but also previews their future. The band describe ‘Colourwave’ as “a love letter to the act of creation itself”, which is appropriate to the progression of the album.

‘Fade’ is a stand out track on Mesmer – it’s fast, it’s fun and it’s vastly different to the rest of the album. With strong vocals all the way through, ‘Fade’ boasts Marcus’ range and abilities as a dominant vocalist. Perfectly placed at the tail end of the album, ‘Fade’ keeps the listener interested and showcases Northlane’s durability.

Closing the album is ‘Paragon’. ‘Paragon’ starts off similarly to opening track ‘Citizen’, and reflects on the loss of a close friend, so the album altogether reads like the start and finish of a book.

With lyrics like “Through the eyes of the sun” and “I’m breathing just to pass the time”, Mesmer draws on ideas relevant to today’s issues and looks at the bigger picture through personal struggle.

Mesmer is a release that has re-imagined heavy music – a notion I am sure Northlane will continue to challenge.

Words by Madeleine Kennedy.

Mesmer can be streamed in full below.