Northlane’s Negative Energy doco shows the triumphant of a band once on the brink

Negative Energy is an incredible, honest look into the world of Northlane and the nature of ‘Alien.’
[PC: Louis Mosscrop.]

Fifth album ‘Alien‘ (2019) was a super dark, immensely angry and transformative LP for Northlane, feeling like a huge return to form. With sold-out banners adorned on their tour posters for nearly all national and international dates during its cycle, a new lyrical leaf being turned over with Marcus Bridge bringing the emotional horrors of his childhood into the naked light with their most personal songs, all with cyberpunk aesthetics and cutting-edge industrial edges embued into their highly-polished, djenty prog-metalcore sound, it was a revitalizing release. As Northlane hadn’t sounded as confident or that big in years, with all of their artistic risk-taking paying off in droves; netting them rave reviews, a #3 Aussie charter, a third ARIA win, all as tickets practically flew out the doors for their stacked shows.

2019 marked five years since Marcus first auditioned and subsequently joined Northlane off the back of his ‘Dream Awake‘ cover, and also ten years since the band first started. A reality that looks and seems like a lifetime ago from the old days of Blacktown Masonic gigs. This insightful half-hour doco covers in-depth their journey of late; from Marcus first coming in, through the ‘Mesmer‘ cycle up till them taking ‘Alien‘ around the globe, with all of the ups and downs, hopes and doubts, shared via an honest lens.

Beginning with a beautiful acoustic rendition from the singer of ‘Sleepless,’ Negative Energy soon becomes the rawest and most intimate glimpse into how Northlane operates and how they have existed for the last six years. From guitarist Josh Smith eventually self-managing the group, bassist and founding member Alex Milovic leaving, the band hungering to achieve more, recouping money to UNFD, growing internal struggles, the importance of bassist Brendon Padjasek joining, and the heartbreak of their frontman losing his mother mere days before their U.S. tour – the list goes on. Yet like Marcus coming out the other end of his childhood, Northlane would see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Exceptionally directed by Neal Walters and well-scored by the band’s own Jon Deiley, Negative Energy is an apt title for this doco and for Northlane’s perspective and approach over the last year or so. The band taking all of that ‘negativity’ – label and management woes as mentioned by drummer Nic Petterson, “yes men” coming and going, the sheer burn-out of touring, Marcus‘ early life trauma and facing his family demons – and hones it into music, into actual positive energy that can sustain the band; energy that would breathe real drive, better health, and passion into what they now do. And thus, the huge musical gamble of ‘Alien‘ was born.

Ending with a powerful full-band performance of ‘Sleepless‘ at the Roundhouse in Sydney, footage that’ll no doubt make it onto their new live DVD, Northlane’s most-successful record to date was not without its pains, not without its blows, but the very nature of that stunning record and the band’s endurance under such challenges is why they’re still here.

Take in Negative Energy below:

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