Surprisingly this is the debut album (except a self financed EP), from Dutch ‘Non-divine’ – surprising because it’s impressively varied and mature in sound, composing, influences and playing.
It’s made like a concept album about a fictional lunatic asylum, where every song is the story of a patient, displayed in both the lyrics and the music.
Non-divine existed since ’99, and apart from a change of bass player back in ’02, it’s still the same line-up; the brothers Ivor (g & v) and Martin (g) van Beek, Ruben Viets (d) and Paul Groeneveld (b). They are winners of the Aardshock Metal Bash in 2005, and judging from this album, that surely wasn’t any coincidence.
According to themselves their general style was set from the beginning, the generally midtempo heavyrock/metal feel of especially the verses, the very catchy melodic choruses and clear vocals. The guitars are deep and crunchy, well played with nice solos, and the drumming powerful, at times even sounding progressive. The sources of inspiration seems to be very wide (just to mention a few of the more obvious: 90’s Metallica, Fear Factory, Nickelback, a bit C.O.C. and Waltari, and apart from those, several other classic and newer metal bands), and though the numbers differs a lot, there’s still a red line through the whole album.
‘One Man, One Soul’, could be described as a metalversion of the Cult with a melodic chorus like Fear Factory meets classic melodic heavy metal. ‘In Shame’ is more groovy heavyrock, ‘Sleep’ sounds like gothic meets Metallica and ‘Breathe’ like thrashy metalcore.
The Chorus of ‘Mended Doll’ just keeps ringing in my head, that’s just GREAT – it has clear sing-along potential for the live situation (and that’s ment strictly positive!).
‘Love Loss’ is an acoustic instrumental that doesn’t turn corny, ‘Visions’ could easily be from a Waltari album (not only because of the drumming), and the album ends with a more eased back and partly acoustic song ‘Sympathy’.
Live they are apparently playing covers of Machine Head, Sepultura and Fear Factory, although the harder stuff is not the first thing that springs to mind listening to the album. Live they also underline the concept of the album by wearing white clothes, looking like inmates in a mental institution.
The production and recording is done by Jacob Hansen, Denmark, and of course bears his imprint in the sound (the sound of Volbeat is not that far away) – flawless.
Although there’s no clear hits on this album, and one could miss an edge here or there (sometimes it’s almost too clean and smooth, thinking about what the overall subject is), some of the songs is still hanging on after the CD stopped spinning, and you can keep returning to it very often, without getting tired of it. With the skills in composing and playing of this band, I’m looking forward to their next album too, and in the meantime, I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one many times.
Well done first-timer, boys! Surely recommendable.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Sleep’, ‘Mended Doll’, ‘Visions’, ‘Sympathy’…damn, practically all of them!