Dec 8, 2009

Divine Connection's Album: El Roi, A Review

The Morung Express Music review

Artiste/Band: Divine Connection
Album: ‘El Roi’ (2008)
Studio: Clef Ensemble (Ser’s Bazar) Kohima.
Ratings: Miss this one, and you’ve just farted away a promising start to a promising rock industry for our pro-music-starved Nagaland.

Divine Connection’s ‘El Roi’ vibe is definitely between progressive hard rock and mainstream avantgarde; while the urban rock package is definitely eclectic with a swamp of various styles, its production unmistakably sounds like a package from deathcore superpowers Finland and Norway. In fact following the first spin of the CD, I felt it similar to Norway’s melodic death metal band Immortal Soul’s ‘Winterheart’ offering. Of course DC’s debut is not your average coremetal Christian mosher, but it’s definitely for hard rock devotees who’d like to indulge in some progressive meanderings packaged in superb genre eclecticism. Technically speaking, I found it even better than American Christian prog/power metal band Theocracy’s 2007 debut. Now go throw Justin Timberlake at your neighbor’s grumpy Alsatian.

The first two numbers off the lot, ‘El Roi’ and ‘Original Abomination’ will tease your neck muscles and the larynx. And dandruff. And boy, what temptation. Both are unmistakably similar yet each holding its own – mid-tempo jagged rockers with heavy intermittent, progressive off-crunch riffs; not melodic, but boy you can hum, yes hum it, thanks to the rhythmic hooks a la 80 thrash scene. Obed’s singing is not persuasive but ostensibly passionate (almost pained). You’d want to go grow your hair for some serious time dandruff-shaking. The guitars are devotedly bad-tempered. The best thing about ‘El Roi’ and OA? Straight unpretentious bangers with no 80s glam frills (like irritatingly prolonged or incongruous, meaningless guitar solos). Even two solo fillings between any bridges would have murdered the two said songs downright. Both are with a touch of mainstream avantgarde but definitely thrashy, accentuated by smooth verses and jumpy time signatures. In other words you have two tight and beautifully angry James LaBrie-meets-Tesla bangers. Real time dude-stuff, these.

Then ‘Tell Me Who’ induced me into startled wondering ‘Tell Me What the Heck’s that?’ Boy, almost freaked me out when the bass announced itself with a boogie a la 80s Culture Club disco. Endured the George Michaelish boogie-woogie intro and too-spiky bass but into the first verse, I liked the song right-off. Do you listen to urban disco? The song is pure bluegrass delight with generous doses of urban jazz tunes yet decidedly sunny enough for a bluesy guitar to shine a rock shine. TMW is very, very hooky and downright; loved the soulful tunes, especially the disco-tinged arrangements. Mature lyrics. And simply loved the cascading solo woven around tight funky bass (was that slapping or pulling, Mhathung?). If you don’t like this song, I hope your neighbor feeds you to his Alsatian.

Back to swingy dandruff-shaking, people. ‘Thank You’ (Yeah, too bad for embarrassingly cheesy titles) looms overhead like some big bad alien cloud – fat and plodding tempo, dark guitars, brooding vocal accentuation and definitely new age avant-garde slow rock. The verse is almost vestal – serious time haunting and fat awesome reminiscent of Lita Ford’s PMS days. An interesting listen which will definitely have you humming, ‘Thank You lord for Coming into my life…’ Then as you thank each other, buzz will groove in with a power strut to drag you off to the dandruff-pit. ‘Why can’t I find love’ (boy, DC sure are talented in cheese stuff!). WCIFL’s a power avantgarde song and one of its thematic best with a generous dose of incantation that’ll pass for rock (not those Limp Bizkit types). It’s a likable hard groove rocker and a tonal highlight to the whole album. A commendable effort.

The next, ‘Fallen’ is for punky garage deviants. The song starts of with a three-bar Hammer-Ons blanket in a fuzz of power chording. And suddenly, I’m like ‘oh boy, DC just ripped off the inlets on Metallica’s ‘Seek & Destroy.’ The riffs follow a similar pattern. Thankfully, as the song progresses, a new progressive sensibility takes control. Obed gets more passionate (almost angry); Zakie Nuh and Aseu ignite their Dream Theatre influence and Mhathung does his Neal Morse impersonation with convincing off-shot bass. This song grows on you and suddenly, you are a progressive riff fan. Good one.

And then hell breaks loose (Excuse me this is supposed to be a Christian album). A nut-cracking flurry of agro blasts through like a maddened train on ‘Second Woe’ (finally, a cool title this time, DC). Boy, power metal never had it so good. The song reminded a little of progressive power metal band Nevermore. Sounding angry goes great on you Obed. Remain angry. Simply loved the guitar tone here and skinsman Yanpo Lotha sure matches his stuff to double bass up the song to tease your eardrum’s endurance. Just one itty-bitty itch here: the progression is too repetitive and technically bland (almost naked) to be even anywhere near imaginative. One of my favorites, but definitely leaves you wondering if more could have been.

‘Without you’ continues the superior run. Sunny, 80ish and hooky, this exceedingly tight piece of slow, progressive tinged number will have you doing a hard rock jig or two. The highlight here is the guitar arrangement; a smoothening progressive transition between uplifting tunes reminiscent of radio ballads and arena live rock.

And you won’t find any fault with ‘My All.’ Touchingly dulcet and soulful, Obed and Ruth Nukhu (of Piano fame) might as well better get married in the studio; the lilting refrain woven around minimal pianist instrumentation and a gloriously uplifting chorus. Too beautiful to be a song. If you don’t hit on this one, go find a job.

DC signs off with another worthwhile indulgence with an almost reggaeish urban boogie ‘One together.’ This song is very elemental and has a breezy and melodic swing to it but definitely soft rocking. One of DC’s highlights and one of the best arrangements in here.

If a debut can be so promising, then I already can’t wait for DC’s next album. One small advice: Go easy on the cheesy stuff, DC dudes.


  1. Keep on playing the good music and spread the gospel at the same time. Why don't more Naga musicians do gospel music like Divine Connection. Hope DC don't get tempted to back slide.
    Keep on rocking guys, we love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Arung Jamir

  2. Good Rock Music. Caution Don't forey into Death Metal, it sounds more Satanic.
    Long Live Gospel Music

  3. can any one post the lyrics of this album? (el roi)

  4. Love you guys.... Keep rocking.God bless you all.