2001 Trustkill Records
It's hard to believe this is Nora's debut full-length. It feels like these guys have been around forever. But actually, the New Jersey fivesome hasn't released anything since their 'Neverendingyouline' EP on Trustkill Records. Their musical approach hasn't changed drastically since then, but they've definitely improved their songwriting skills and shored up their level of conistency. Then again, these guys had plenty of time to get their sh*t together, so we were expecting nothing less. The cool thing about Nora is their business-like approach. This is blue-collar hardcore. Strains of Hatebreed, old Earth Crisis, and myriad metallic influences are abound as this band comes in, plays loud, screams hard, says what they want to say, and leaves without the drama. From start to finish, this CD is a no-frills reminder of how powerful hardcore can be. Nora knows how to work a gritty groove, and fortunately they do it quite a few times on this album. Things get off to a very solid start with the opener, "Wave Goodbye". On this fiery track, Nora avoids the repetition they've dangerously flirted with in the past and delivers a compelling collection of brutal riffs and sick breakdowns. Hell, the first three songs are killer. The ending of "Warthog" is one of the most pleasingly heavy things I've heard all year, courtesy of Nora's solid rhythm section. Vocalist Carl Severson will never be applauded for his expansive vocal range. And while some may find his monotone delivery less than captivating, let's face it, he has a presence that demands attention. There are plenty of vocalists out there with more innate talent than this guy, but very few are able to harness their power like Severson (listen to him belt out the line 'What about standing up' in "Leadpipe Moment"). Don't forget to read the succinct lyrics either. Tackling such subject matter as the money-grubbing media and the lack of respect for women in today's culture, these songs are rife with conviction, which is nice to see. And for each song, there is an accompanying explanation of its lyrics and what they mean. We've said it before, and we'll say it again; we really like it when bands do that. A few of these tracks are unable to sustain the energy generated by the first few tracks, but this really is an amazingly consistent effort. I can't name one song that sucks. In addition to the aforementioned tracks, other album highlights include "Bring It", "For The Travelers", and "Mudmonster". Oh yeah, the cover art by Derek Hess is pretty damn cool too. Bottom Line: For those of you that only have a limited amount of dough to spend on music each month, it would behoove you to be cautious when purchasing records. One need not proceed with caution when approaching this record though. It's just plain good.