Review by Jenny Paul

July 24, 2015 – Northlane – Node

Whenever a band is tasked with the difficult job of replacing a member, fans panic. Forums are riddled with questions of “who will it be?” and more importantly “how will they sound?” For followers of Australian djent act Northlane, the answer to these questions will become the defining point of this release. Node, Northlane’s third LP and new vocalist Marcus Bridge’s rookie debut, is an ambient journey that explores the new direction for the group after Adrian Fitipaldes took his leave.

The opener of the LP sets the stage for those that follow, becoming a defining track of what is the meat of the album. A majority of the tracks center around the band’s newest talent, using a forceful bass to support Bridge’s gentle and passionate melodies. As always, Nic Pettersen delivers rapid, technically concocted beats that serve as a strong backbone for the rougher bass and blended guitars. The record is a bit of a tempo rollercoaster in that the tracks seem to change mood and, of course, time frequently; this keeps each track feeling as fresh as the one before it. However, while the tracks do maintain a fair amount of individuality, make no mistake: the signature Northlane bass and drumlines are ever prominent. Tracks such as “Node” and “Rot” show every strength of the band, demonstrating a high level of technicality and passion. In terms of defining strengths, the one thing this band has that really sets it apart is a message. While the music itself may be heavy, the lyrics remain optimistic and positive, giving fans of heavy music something to inspire hope.

Northlane appears to have changed its sound to some degree, not only by introducing a new vocalist but also by writing somewhat gentler music. In terms of reaction, what this record really boils down to is these few changes. The induction of Bridge into the music-making process is the variable that will either encourage or deter fans from holding on to this release. While Bridge’s vocals, notably his heavier vocals, are drastically different than Fitipaldes’ vocals, Marcus has brought a strong force to the Northlane crew. For Northlane, it appears “out with the old, in with the new” has proved incredibly successful.

FFO: Crown the Empire, Volumes, Erra