Nora – Dreamers & Deadmen

Dreamers & Deadmen

Nora is a metal-influenced hardcore band from New Jersey that employs crunchy, neck-snapping riffs, cacophonous, hyper-fast drumming, and ragged, throat-straining screams. But that’s not the weird part. Vocalist Carl Severson sings about what it feels like to stare down the barrel of a gun and why he wants to burn down your house in remarkably astute and uncompromising lyrics. But that’s also not the weird part. Nora quotes Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Dreamers & Deadmen‘s liner notes: “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.” That is the weird part.
Luckily, Nora’s enthusiasm for metallic and melodic hardcore will no doubt delight fans of the genre, Willy Wonka quote notwithstanding. There’s enough violent imagery, spit-flecked screaming, and ear-splitting guitar to satisfy the pimply, mouth-breathing teen in ill-fitting Levis within us all. Featuring former members of metal impresarios Burnt by the Sun and Ensign, Nora emerged from the wet and heavy jungle of New Jersey in 1997 to commandeer chaos and loom over an encroaching (spiritual) apocalypse. Surprisingly, the band manages to inject a little snide humor into its otherwise standard post-hardcore sound. In “Last One for the Money,” Severson leads the chant, “Last chance kids, its time to rock / Last chance kids, before we’re old.” (Andrew W.K. would be proud.) However, despite this delicious slice of sardonicism, Severson never strays too far from well-trod territory: loneliness, bile, violence, hatred, burning things down, lobotomies, and black holes (in his soul, no less).
So despite aforementioned words such as “well-trod” and “standard,” Nora still fundamentally rocks. Severson’s vocals are crisp and loud, Portland throttles his guitar with gleeful violence, and Chris Ross’ drumming is precise and menacing. Some variation in Severson’s vocal delivery would have helped to elevate the band just over competent, but perhaps the poor guy lacks confidence in his potential for melody in the same way he lacks confidence to tell off that dirty bitch that did him so wrong. (“Didn’t get to look in her face,” from “Scars are Supposed to Last Forever”.) As a result, Nora’s tracks tend to mesh unrecognizably together, but when you’re so anchored in a particular genre, especially metalcore, it really doesn’t matter that all your songs sound the same, right? All that matters is that they grab both your nipples, twist the living shit out of them, and kick you hard in the chest with a steel-toed boot, right? Rock on.