Music » Critics' Picks

Norma Jean

7 p.m. Saturday, November 18. Mississippi Nights (914 North First Street).


An ideal headliner for the grassroots-minded Radio Rebellion Tour, Norma Jean packs venues without airplay, easy hooks or categorical genre support. (The group's Christian beliefs alienate metalcore nihilists.) The Atlanta band even earned a Grammy nomination for 2005's O God, the Aftermath (albeit for artwork and packaging). This year's Redeemer deserves a repeat nod in that category, with its ominous cover portrait of a raven-pecked girl. However, this time around Academy voters might be able to sample the record without spontaneously combusting. While previous Norma Jean efforts reveled in impenetrable chaos and indecipherable shrieks, Redeemer delivers clarity without compromise. Cory Brandan experiments with vocal lucidity while preserving his intense tone, and the dual guitars — declaring temporary truces from their constant clashing — occasionally march lockstep, generating thunderous grooves.