Non Human Level
posted on 1/2006 By:
Non-Human Level is basically the brainchild of Darkane guitarist extraordinaire, Christofer Malmstrom. For those of you not already familiar with his work, this man knows how to beat the living hell out of a guitar. But don’t blow your choad quite yet…this project also features Gustaf Hielm of Meshuggah fame on bass, Ryan Van Poederooyen of The Devin Townsend Band on drums, and none other than fellow Darkane drummer, Peter Wildoer, on vocals. Quite the lineup.
There’s a lot to talk about in regards to this album, so I’ll skip the details on the band bio and move on to the goods, but before I do, I have a few confessions to make; I’ve never really been a fan of Meshuggah, I’ve never flipped my shit over The Devin Townsend Band, AND, I didn’t get back into Darkane until last year’s excellent Layer of Lies. What can I say? My diet consists primarily of Black, Death, and Trad/Power Metal. That being said, I think Non-Human Level is, without a doubt, one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve heard exude from my speakers in quite some time. This may very well be a direct result of what I just stated above, but all things considered, this album knocked me flat on my ass.
A self-professed “melodic death/thrash metal band with Tampa and Scandinavian influences” is exactly what rips forth from your speakers the second you hit play on Non-Human Level, but that’s not all! There are also elements of Traditional/Power Metal, and even Prog. Metal to further add layers to this fantastic endeavor. And let me tell you, if you’re a fan of guitar solo's, Malmstrom’s fretwork alone should be enough for any fan of Metal to enjoy some part of this album. As far as the vocals are concerned, Wildoer pretty much sticks to the At-The-Gates style rasp that certainly seems popular now-a-days. To his credit, however, he does achieve one hell of a level of ‘pissed off’ numerous times throughout the album.
Non-Human Level starts off quietly on “Divine Creation of Void”, with Malmstrom employing Traditional Metal solo styling for the intro, but things get kicked up a notch fairly quickly. There are obvious elements of Malmstrom’s parent band all over this album, and the first track is no exception. It has all the technicality of Darkane, but throw in a wicked Prog. Bass solo 2:50 in, and we’ve got a whole new beast. Track 2, “Personal Hell”, is a brutal thrash attack with an opening riff that’ll shiv you quicker than a desperate inmate looking to earn his chops. I’m telling you people, this riff alone would make Gary Holt spit coffee into his lap. Things slow down a bit for the instrumental “The Second Plane”, flexing a nice chunky rhythm and excellent lead work (once again) from Malmstrom. Song 5, “Instincts”, is another fantastic genre bender. Malmstrom & the boys start the song off brutally, but 1:50 in, they welcome Demon keyboardist, Christian Schultze, in on the fun with a (?!!!) church-organ solo (that’s right, I said organ solo). Soon afterwards, Malmstrom and guest-keyboardist extraordinaire, Lale Larson, battle back and forth for the remainder of the song. The following track, “Journal of a Nightmare” brings back the full Thrash attack, and definitely puts the incredible drumming of Poederooyen in the spotlight. The quiet instrumental “Water” gives the listener a bit of respite from the attack, but not for long, as the album quickly heads back to more brutal waters, until the oddly named, “Freaking Goose”, quietly ends the album acoustically.
It’s hard for me to pick out a weak point on this album. To be honest, the only thing that kept me from giving this recording a perfect score is the fact that two of the tracks are simply ‘good’ (“Windows on the World”, and “Untrustable Surface”). Apart from that, this is an album I’d say definitely warrants further investigation by fans of Metal. It’s questionable whether or not we’ll see another album from Non-Human Level, but we should consider ourselves lucky to have this one. Get out there and spend your hard-earned cash on this one...you won't be disappointed.
Register to post comments.