When Northlane released their album Mesmer out of the blue, it felt like Christmas morning. All starry-eyed and full of promise, I took to Spotify to stream their latest creation and found myself mesmerized. Calculated and cool, Mesmer is a work of art that celebrates the symmetry of intuition and innovation all the while showcasing the beautiful harmony that can exist between brutality and fragility. Bursting at the seams with ingenuity, Mesmer is set to take Northlane to skyscraper heights with its dynamic and progressive tonality.
The one thing I’ve always loved about Northlane is the fact that they don’t just create an album, they create an atmosphere. And that’s no exception this go around with Mesmer as you find yourself caught in the undertow with its opener, “Citizen”. From the get go, you realize that this isn’t going to be like any other Northlane album. “Citizen” does a wonderful job of making you feel like you are being watched by Big Brother with its looming presence as Marcus comes in with his silky smooth vocals, “Spied on, lifelong, collection 24/7, Archives of all we’ve done, Satellites track our lives beyond the skies, Not even your mind can hide, From big brother’s eyes”. As it drones and lulls, you sink deeper and deeper into the unknown. At the end he whispers out, “Thank you, Mr. Snow”, sending a shoutout to Edward Snowden, a man who risked it all to give us the truth.
Northlane continue to take you down the rabbit hole with “Savage”, which is comparable to a psychedelic space odyssey mission with eerie snyth parts that pull you in like a blackhole. Then Marcus comes bursting through, echoing throughout space and time, flawlessly cascading down into a haunting melody. You’ll find yourself pulled through moments of intensity and subtly throughout the entire album, and that perhaps is its biggest strength. Full-lengths are rarely described as being both powerful and vulnerable, but Mesmer is an exception thanks to tracks like “Savage” that hypnotize you with their poetic rhythm and explosive emotion.
Carrying on the momentum is “Intuition”, which creates this giant wave of sound around you. Eventually it crashes down upon you along with the brutish power and aggressive force of Jonathon Deiley’s relentless riffing. In the past, we’ve questioned whether or not he is from this planet, and it’s clear now more than ever that he’s not. Pair that with Nic Pettersen’s frantic drumming that plummets itself into your existence, and you have an absolute powerhouse of a track. There’s no stopping Mesmer with outings like these that not only immolate the human experience, but also delve into the creative mind.
Also coming through is the song’s cry to challenge the social conditioning that has plagued our world. Breaking norms, “Intuition” shines on an album of killer tracks both lyrically, but also musically, especially given that it is one of the heaviest efforts on the record. Mesmer may challenge society in songs like “Intuition”, but it also comes from a place of personal experience with songs like “Veridian”, “Fade”, and “Paragon”. All of which are written about loss and the feelings that arise from it. Northlane turn these feelings into something that can be felt by all who listen, further strengthening a record that is heavy not only due to its sound, but also the profound weight of its message(s).
Ending this monster of a record is the aforementioned “Paragon”, a track dedicated to Tom Searle of Architects. It comes in pulsing like a heartbeat, softly swaying, suddenly to break down into those assailing Architects-like riffs we’ve all come to love. Lyrically, “Paragon” shines in the presence of so many profound records by featuring not only some of the best of Northlane, but also the best of Architects. Using terms and lines like “castle in the air”, “my friend hope is a prison”, and “hollow crown”, Northlane have created one of the most beautiful tributes to a soul that has not only inspired them, but also us all. Marcus comes growling in, “He once said to us, my friend hope is a prison, But the hope his chords sung only spread love in a hollow crowned kingdom”. It’s the perfect end to a record that not only challenges life, but also celebrates it.
Essential Listens: “Fade”, “Paragon”, “Intuition”, “Savage”, “Fade”, “Veridian”, “Zero-One”.
If you haven’t picked up or checked out Northlane’s latest release Mesmer do so here, and share with us what you think in the comments.
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