Australian artists, Northlane, has blasted beyond expectations with their sixth album, Alien (UNFD). The record would be the third for frontman Marcus Bridge, and the first in which he chose to open up about his troubled childhood. The best songwriting comes from the heart, and it definitely shows in the Alien’s quality.
Northlane isn’t afraid to break the mold, which makes this album an amazingly refreshing listen. They don’t confine themselves to one subgenre of Metal, allowing for a very diverse record. From softer songs consisting purely of clean vocals, like ‘Rift,’ too heavy, guttural songs like ‘Eclipse’—along plenty of tracks with a good mix of both—they showcase an immense amount of knowledge for Metal as a whole. It’s rare a band can stray away from one specific sound, but Northlane manages to jump across several subgenres while still producing something fluent and coherent.
Now, that doesn’t mean they ignored some of the industry’s best practices when it comes to album structure. The first and last songs on a record can really cement its memorability, and they clearly understand this. Initial track ‘Details Matter’ has a bold, in your face sound that demands your attention. It’s immediately followed by one of Alien’s most rememberable songs, ‘Bloodline.’ This track is guaranteed to leave an impression on those who hear it. Not only is it beautifully composed, but ‘Bloodline’ tells a story familiar to far too many people.
Throughout Alien, Bridge explores themes of his broken childhood. In songs such as ‘Freefall’ and ‘Jinn,’ he reflects back on the trauma of his parents’ criminal decisions and the impact of his father’s death. ‘Paradigm’ and ‘Sleepless’ speak on his sister’s addiction, the latter of which acts as the album’s closing track. As mentioned before, the final track on an album is incredibly important for its impact. Northlane made the perfect choice in picking ‘Sleepless’ as the sendoff. It’s heartbreaking story and melodic sound will no doubt stick with you.
That’s something that could be said Alien as a whole, though. While concept records or radio bangers are nice, there is no songwriting that can compare to storytelling derived from life experience. Coupling this with Northlane’s veteran level skills makes for an incredible album.
8 / 10