The years following the release of 2003's Dreamers and Deadmen have been none too kind to the dudes in Nora. There's been anguish, bad luck, heartache and a couple of false starts — all of which had a hand in stymieing the composition and release of Save Yourself, the New Jersey metalcore mavens' third full-length, which landed in stores late last month. And don't forget about those pesky day jobs, and the cruel reality of getting on in years and all that comes with it — marriage, children, mortgages.
But nothing derailed the band's plans as painfully and effectively as the 2004 drowning death of drummer Chris Ross' infant daughter, Jordana Rose Ross.
"After that, for all of us, Nora just kind of took a huge back seat to life in general," explained frontman Carl Severson, who, by day, runs hardcore label Ferret Records. "For the next year or so, there wasn't much movement on the Nora front; we actually started writing the new record at one point back in early 2004 and ended up scrapping five songs we'd gotten through. When we did start putting it back together a year and a half later, we sat back down and just hated those songs. So, we just holed ourselves up in the basement, and we spent a lot of time writing."
Severson admits the guys were a tad rusty when it came to crafting cuts of sheer sonic brutality at first, given all the band had been through — but in time, it came back to the guys as if they'd never stopped.
"At first, it almost seemed like we were thinking too hard about the songs," he said. "And then, you kind of get in it, and get in a writing groove, and we started churning out some pretty cool stuff — some of these songs are really slow and cool, which is something we've never really done before. This has quickly become my favorite record, and I think the songs are just really interesting."
Despite Severson's praise for the LP, Save Yourself has sold a mere 1,225 copies since its release; alas, Nora don't have any touring plans at all, which will make it even harder to get the word out about the album.
Perhaps Nora went away for too long? Maybe their style could be considered, well, antiquated? A bushel of new bands have come along since Dreamers and Deadmen, helping advance the metalcore genre stylistically. Plus, the tastes of the headbangin' public do change, even if the bands they love refuse to. Did Nora try to take a cue from some of the heads of metalcore's new class during the crafting of Save Yourself? Not at all, Severson said.
"We didn't go out to try to emulate any of the newer, younger bands, to stay relative," he offered. "We went out and did what we did. We didn't write to try to keep up with the new bands. We just tried to make it a little more aggressive than the last time, to fit our mood a little more."
But from a lyrical standpoint, Severson did try to incorporate some of the band's struggles into his verses and choruses.
"More so than anything we've done in the past, the inspiration for these songs came from what we had done personally, with our lives and our surroundings — our reaction to watching life and what it turned out like after what our drummer and his family went through, and how it all affected us," he explained. "There was a four-year lapse between records, and a lot had happened to all of us since then, and it was just kind of getting a lot of that out. ... The music scene we existed in — a lot had changed within that, and there is some reactionary stuff on the record, too, about that, particularly the song 'Famous Last Words.' That one's about what our music community leaves us with now, which is a whole lot of stuff like f---ing 50 Cent. Stuff like that. It makes you miss Chuck D."
On the label side of things, Severson has been busy signing new acts and organizing the annual Sounds of the Underground festival, which this summer features the likes of Shadows Fall, Gwar, Every Time I Die, Chimaira, the Number Twelve Looks Like You and more. He recently added 36 Crazyfists and Full Blown Chaos to Ferret's roster, and the label is one of many bidding on Overcast's next one, Reborn to Kill Again.
Severson's label will also release Viva la Bands: Volume 2, a collection of tracks from some of Bam Margera's favorite acts.
"It's awesome, because it's kind of on a totally different, more kind of semi-commercial level than most of the stuff we've done," he explained. "We will have a brand-new track from Clutch on there, from In Flames, Children of Bodom, Placebo — we're getting to work with all these bands we haven't had a chance to work with, and they're all great bands. It's also a way to introduce Ferret to a bunch of kids who've never heard of us before."
The compilation, due in stores September 4, will also feature tunes by CKY, Gwar, Priestess, Dimmu Borgir, A Life Once Lost and Malevolent Creation.
The rest of the week's metal news:
Between the Buried and Me, the Red Chord, the End and Cephalic Carnage will team up for a 15-gig North American trek that's scheduled to launch July 27 in Pittsburgh. The tour runs through August 11 in Wilmington, North Carolina. ... DevilDriver, God Forbid, Kataklysm and Suicide Silence will hit the road together next month for a brief run of shows. The first is scheduled for August 14 in Corona, California, and the last is set for August 25 in Fort Worth, Texas. ...
The greatest metal-parody album since This Is Spinal Tap is coming our way. No, Crotchduster haven't signed to Roadrunner Records — Dethklok are getting ready to infect the world with their debut. The stars of the animated Cartoon Network "Adult Swim" program "Metalocalypse" will release two editions of Dethalbum on September 25. The regular format will feature 16 tracks, including "Murmaider," "Briefcase Full of Guts," "Birthday Dethday," "Bloodrocuted" and "Deththeme." The double-disc deluxe edition will feature a second CD of six additional tracks, such as "Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle," "Blood Ocean" and "Pickles' Intro - Kill You." The package will also feature the video for "Bloodrocuted" and the first episode from the show's second season, which debuts the last week of September. A DVD of the entire first season will be released October 2. Even Megadeth would be hard-pressed to offer more "deth" in a mere week. ...
Florida death-metal pioneers Obituary have announced that they will tour across the U.S. from September 8 in Miami through October 6 in New Orleans. Alabama Thunderpussy, Full Blown Chaos and Hemlock will open all shows. Obituary's upcoming album Xecutioner's Return comes out August 28. The album's first single, "Evil Ways," will be available on iTunes on July 31. ... One of the first significant independent-metal labels, Metal Blade Records, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a tour featuring some of the finest groups on the roster. Cannibal Corpse, the Black Dahlia Murder, the Red Chord, the Absence and a yet-unannounced band will embark September 6 in New Orleans and tour through October 11 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. ...
Influential Polish death/black-metal band Hate are getting ready to enter Hertz Studio in Bialystok to record their sixth full-length, tentatively titled Katharsis. Tracks include "Apotheosis," "Threnody" and "Resurrection Machine." The album will be the follow-up to 2005's Anaclasis. ... Mondo Generator, which is fronted by ex-Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri, have posted their video for "Lie Detector" online. The track comes from the band's new album Dead Planet, which came out this week. The band recently returned from a tour of Eastern Europe, about which Oliveri said, "Eastern Baltic rocks. There were tons of hot girls, but unfortunately none of them were at our gigs." ... Sydney, Australia, extreme/industrial-metal band the Amenta are currently at Red Planet Studios in Hobart recording their second full-length, nOn. "Riddled with electronic noise and guitar manipulation, nOn pushes modern technology to its limits," the band said in a press release. Tracks include "Skin," "Whore," "Vermin," "Entropy," "Atrophy" and "Dystrophy." ...
If you're having trouble sleeping, check out this instrumental drone-fest: Earth will play five shows opening for Chicago instrumental band Pelican starting Tuesday in New York and running through July 28 in Washington, D.C. Earth released Hibernaculum in March and Pelican dropped City of Echoes in early June. ... This fall, Machine Head and Arch Enemy will co-headline the Black Tyranny Tour, which starts September 7 in Anaheim, California, and runs through October 13 in Los Angeles. Throwdown and Sanctity will support all dates. "On what is sure to be the most brutal metal tour of the fall, Machine Head, Arch Enemy, Throwdown and Sanctity are going to bring the pain to you, motherf---ers, and carnage will have no rules," Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn said in a press release. Arch Enemy singer Angela Gossow added, "Arch Enemy teaming up with Machine Head in the U.S. is a big f--- you to everybody who dwells in the past. We certainly aren't! Instead, we're looking forward to crushing the U.S. together and leaving nothing but a tangled wreck of molten metal in our wake." Sure, those metal belters are enthusiastic, but boy they've got potty mouths.