July 21, 2015

When Blacktown bred Metalcore monoliths Northlane announced the departure of beloved vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes due to health issues, it seemed like their existence was under threat.

After spending every waking second for five years, giving blood, sweat and tears in the name of Northlane, clawing their way from Blacktown PCYC to main stages across the globe, the remaining four members were faced with their biggest challenge yet. To adapt or perish. Node is the sound of Northlane emphatically answering that challenge.

They chose not just to adapt, but to evolve.

Node sees Northlane reimagine their sound, tweaking the progressive metalcore template that had become their calling card, stripping back the orchestrated chaos to introduce a more melodic progressive post-hardocre dynamic that accentuates new frontman Marcus Bridge’s talents.

Node begins with defiant war cry Soma, an assault on the senses that proves a microcosm of the record as a whole. As familiar discordant riffs from guitarists Jonathon and Josh crash against a bone shaking rhythmic backdrop (courtesy of bassist Alex and drummer Nic) Bridge stakes his claim with a ferocious roar of “I refuse to die here!” you can almost hear the sound of doubters feverishly eating their words. At 1:40 in Soma takes an ambitious turn into more melodic territory courtesy of some pristine cleans from Bridge and restrained instrumentation, granting listeners the first full glimpse of Northlane 2.0 before unleashing hell to close.

Oblesik’s mid-tempo blend of monster grooves and bouncy riffs provide a distorted wall-of-sound over which Bridge shines as he delivers a passionate message of environmental awareness. Heavy enough to appeal to old fans and melodic enough to win new ones, it’s a logical choice of single.

Node perseveres with Northlane’s lyrical focus on positivity, however where previous releases looked inward Node looks outward. This is evident on the titular track, an emotive, spacious offering that clears the clutter, focusing on melody to push an empowering social message that “You can be the change”.

Similar themes anchor the epic Ohm, an auditory tour-de-force that dresses a stunning turn from Bridge in drop-tuned riffs and blistering stick work and on Leech, an anthemic track that sits alongside closer Animate as the most complete song Northlane have written.

We’re hardly talking radio friendly unit shifters though and there’s still plenty of mind melting moments to ‘activate the pit’ (Ra and Rot, for example) these just compliment the songs now instead of being the focal point, and Northlane are better for it.

It would’ve been easy for Northlane to go into damage control and release a facsimile of their past works, but it wouldn’t have felt right from a band as progressive and committed to authenticity as Northlane. So into the brave, beautiful new world of Node we go.

Northlane’s ‘Node’ is out this Friday, July 24th and you can pre-order it here.

Watch: Northlane – Obelisk