NO DIVINITY – Generation Of Pain EP

Released two years after their ‘Ceremony of Suffering’, this second EP from North Dakota’s No Divinity presents a big step forward for the band. Its four songs still feature the huge riffs that their fans have come to recognise, but they’re used in much broader strokes for an increased heaviness. This time out, the band have dispensed with the sub-two minute hardcore blasts, and instead concentrated on their longer, heavier jams – in the vein of ‘Splinter’ – to bring the best out of an intense, crushing guitar sound. More importantly, it comes with some massive production values that help to make their crossover hardcore sound even bigger than before.

Following a slightly drawn out intro drenched in distortion, Brady and Leighton begin to slowly crank up the guitars; first by locking into a slow-ish doom riff underpinned by a devastatingly heavy drum sound, and then by shifting into a sludgy, mid-tempo riff where the most intensive hardcore collides with a massive chugging groove. After enough intensive riffing to fill a couple of solid verses where their hardcore metal sound is bolstered by a melodic death metal vocal, things slow down to incorporate even more sludge, signifying the presence of some of the band’s heaviest sounds to date. In many ways, this opener is more about those three very different approaches to a heavy as hell riff than any vocal hooks, but at the same time, there’s little doubt that frontman Christian carries almost as much weight via some of his confronting growls. Combined, all five members of No Divinity sound like a true force of nature, and these three minutes set up the rest of the EP in great style.

Kicking off with a brief stop/start riff, the hardcore elements of the No Divinity sound are increased on ‘Bled Dry’, and once Tyler’s drums start to dominate, the overriding mood is more of a musical sledgehammer than ever. The way Brady drops massive discords into a thundering riff accentuates a love of classic hardcore even further, and all things considered, this has the potential to be the EP’s strongest arrangement. Even a death metal growl dropped against a wall of sound never weakens the riff, and for those who aren’t so keen on that part of the band’s arsenal of noise, a slow, crushing groove fills a perfectly executed instrumental break in a way that makes No Divinity sound like early Biohazard colliding with Strife. Cranking the speed, ‘Eternal Enemy’ allows Tyler to really attack his kit, and for bassist Youssef to drive everything with a really dirty sounding bottom end rattle. The speed driven verses are counterbalanced by a slower chorus, where the heaviness intensifies, giving Christian a little more to work with vocally, whilst a cleaner guitar sound occasionally pierces through the wall of sludge. A guest vocal courtesy of Jezter adds a different dimension entirely. His scratchy voice comes more from hardcore’s old school, but actually holds up fine against a more modern sound, before everything slows to pummel the listener with a mid tempo breakdown that’s easily one of the band’s best.

In closing, ‘Seduced By Violence’ first teases with a new musical angle when busy rhythm guitars share a higher tone against the usual distortion, but pretty soon, it’s business as usual when No Divinity employ a brilliant blend of sludge infused hardcore with death vocal accompaniments. It’s one of those times where there seems to be little point in messing with a great formula, but there’s a bigger concession to old school hardcore en route when Tyler applies some brilliant tom work against a fantastic hardcore breakdown leading up to the two minute mark, and the lightning fast stops between the rhythmic riffs add a slight metalcore vibe to the overall mix. These additions to an already great hardcore sound definitely suggest a band pushing forward, not content with resting on their laurels. If you’re into the heavier things and can handle a death infused vocal, there’s plenty to love here.

In just four songs and twelve minutes, No Divinity serve up a definitive hardcore/melodic death crossover on ‘Generation of Pain’. The vocals will be divisive, certainly, but there’s no mistaking the brilliance of massive riffs used with intent, and that’s where No Divinity really come into their own. The riffs here are rarely anything less than brutal – and amazing. For lovers of the death-groove end of the hardcore spectrum and of bands like Gates To Hell, Division of Mind, Mutual Hostility and Invoke, and for fans of the slower elements of The Black Dahlia Murder’s sound, this is definitely worth seeking out.

August 2023