Released: 2005, Listenable Records
Here’s a super group of sorts, as Darkane’s guitarist Christofer Malmstrom (the brains behind this project) and drummer Peter Wildoer (vocals in here) join forces with Meshuggah’s bassist Gustaf Helm and Devin Townsend’s drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen. That’s a lot of collective metal clout coming together in one place, but unfortunately, NON HUMAN LEVEL does not live up to its pedigree.
Opening with the crushing yet typical melo-death of “Divine Creation of Void”, the disc follows through with 40 minutes of every facet of melodic death metal laid down since 1995. Everything is here, from the melodic solos, the chugging riffs, the howled vocals, the quiet interludes, the only thing missing is the twin guitars (for obvious reasons). It’s all done very clinically, as these guys are obviously students of the game and know what they’re doing. Wildoer’s vocals are perfectly adequate, occasionally sounding like Tomas Lindberg. Anyone familiar with Darkane knows Malmstrom’s talents on the guitar, and he does not disappoint here. The rhythm section of Helm and Poederooyen is equally talented and gets the job done right.
The thing is, the playing, just like the songwriting is completely uninspired. The whole album just reminds me of the old adage, “it’s good but not great”. All the bases are covered, all of the peaks and valleys are traveled, and the listener is left unimpressed by the whole thing. We’ve heard it before, and the main bands of the players are generally better than this grouping (Meshuggah excepted). From reading Malmstrom’s website, it seems like some of these songs have been around for a long time, so maybe next time out some fresh music will light fire under the band, but for now, there are much better melodic death metal offerings available.