• Thomas Joseph

Norma Jean puts spin on nostalgia tour at Houston Underground


Image courtesy of Thomas Joseph

Norma Jean brought their brand of Christian Metalcore to Houston Underground on Tuesday.

The Georgia-based outfit has been spinning tales of fire and brimstone backed by roaring guitar riffs for over 20 years and eight albums now. This tour sees riding the nostalgia train back to 2006’s Redeemer.

Rather than run straight through the original track listing, the band played with things a bit, dropping in two tracks off of 2016’s Polar Similar mid-set. Still, all the familiar beats from Redeemer come through, from the drum fills on opener “A Grand Scene for a Color Film” to a cathartic crowd sing-along on closer “No Passenger: No Parasite.”

Frontman Cory Brandan has been a constant for a band that has endured many line up changes over the years. Redeemer was his second record with the Norma Jean, and the set grew increasingly emotional as he expounded on the meaning behind songs on the back half of the record.

There’s “Amnesty Please,” a meditation on forgiveness in the 21st century, and “Cemetery,” a track about the death of Brandan’s father after he was hit by a drunk driver. These songs have been out there for 12 years now (yes, kids from Ozzfest’s hayday, it’s been that long), but they still feel raw and meaningful.

It wouldn’t be a Norma Jean show without a one song encore. “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste” dates back to the band's first album, and Norma Jean is sure to play it at nearly every appearance. It was enough to rejuvenate a nearly spent crowd and send them home happy.

Support came from fellow southern-based metal bands Gideon and Greyhaven. New Jersey’s Toothgrinder was also featured, clearly the tightest of the three. An antsy crowd didn’t give the openers much to work with, but Toothgrinder cleared the air and put on an energetic show.

Setlist:

"A Grand Scene for a Color Film"

"Blueprints for Future Homes"

"A Temperamental Widower"

"The End of End of All Things Will Be Televised"

"Songs Sound Much Sadder"

"I, The Planet" (from Polar Similar)

"Synthetic Sun" (from Polar Similar)

"A Small Spark vs. A Great Forest"

"The Longest Lasting Sentiment"

"Amnesty Please"

"Like Swimming Circles"

"Cemetery Like a Stage"

"No Passenger: No Parasite"

"Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste" (from Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child)

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