Non-Human Level - _Non-Human Level_
(Listenable Records, 2006)
by: Aaron McKay (9 out of 10)
To paraphrase the ever-quotable Lemmy from Motorhead, it's gotta be dangerous or it ain't rock 'n' roll. Well, Mr. Kilmister, apparently Non-Human Level heard you loud and clear -- mostly loud and less clear, but nevertheless the message was received.

For the prerequisite background, the whys and wherefores, Non-Human Level is a side venture more-or-less spun out of an idea from Darkane guitarist Christofer Malmstrom. Recruiting the talents of Meshuggah bass player Gustaf Hielm, Christofer dubbed this new ensemble Non-Human Level after a song by a previous band of his, Agretator.

The NHL line-up is rounded out with heavyweights Ryan van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend) on drums and Peter Wildoer (also from Darkane) on vocals. The ever present concept of getting bogged down in a quagmire of super-group mediocrity, however, was avoided within NHL. This four-piece completed another feat by circumventing a recreation and simply pumping out another "Darkane-lite" type album.

This self-titled effort has the gusto to make it a go of it on its own merits. Highly technical, by virtue of its membership, NHL crafts more of a relentless savagery between gripping hooks, extreme velocity power, and melodic segues ("Water") that makes Non-Human Level's intensity that much more ferocious.

Over the course of this debut's forty-one minutes, NHL covers a lot of ground. With elements of Scandinavian arrangements led by masterful guitar work and driving rhythms, each of the ten tracks showcase the staying power of this outfit.

Not waiting too far into the album, NHL throws out an unbelievable riff on "Personal Hell" after laying waste to any preconceived notions of the band with the opening cut, "Divine Creation of Void"; this pattern is more than perpetuated song after challenging song.

For those looking for that pioneering touch, Non-Human Level accommodates that desire as well. Supplementing the magnificent guitar solos ("The Second Plane"), there is a special guest solo appearance by keyboardist Lale Larson, and a live church organ piece ("Instincts"). Pretty damn all-encompassing, but that really is just the surface.

It might be enough to say that Lemmy is right -- what's the point if it's not dangerous in this business? Non-Human Level might as well think it's a colossal waste of time to be anything but demolishing, and this imaginative debut is all the proof you need.


(article published 7/4/2006)

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