Has it ever happened to you that you’ve listened to an album over and over and, out of the blue, you “find” a song you didn’t even know was on there or you somehow didn’t acknowledge before? For some bizarre reason that has just happened to me! I’ve been listening to A Life Divided’s The Great Escape CD over and over since I got it (yeah, well, don’t get me started on that…this most definitely hasn’t happened since I was a teenager (years and years and more years ago)) that I have music on repeat but this album just doesn’t let me go!) I’m embarrassed to admit this oversight but, boy am I glad I discovered it as it leaves me with one more track to enjoy! Wow…is all I can say about this awesome band. And I have the world of iTunes/Amazon recommendations to thank for this. Really, it’s true. In the old days one would go into a music store, generally bee-lining for the music you know and want, the chances of stumbling onto something new practically non-existent. Let’s be perfectly frank here but, unless a strategically placed album cover caught your eye, most bands didn’t have a chance. So, using fancy new technology and recommendations, had I not been browsing Rammstein (just in case a piece of theirs had slipped through my radar), I would never have been lead on this wonderful discovery of Oomph!, then Megaherz followed by Eisbrecher and bingo… A Life Divided.
And just for the record…I honestly buy all my music. I’m a firm believer in this. So much effort, creativity, time etc. goes into the making of a single song, never mind an album, that I will always, always, support musicians. (I know from experience what goes into just the composing aspect never mind the rest). Anyway…
So, yes, not all German bands/musicians singing English make it work, but I think these guys do it pretty darn well. Or maybe, I’m just immune to German accents. What they also do well is keep A Life Divided stylistically different to Eisbrecher where Jürgen (singer and composer/songwriter) is also a member. It is so easy to become influenced, consciously or subconsciously, and I know that you will compose a theme/phrase that you think is totally your own but later realise it is actually something you’ve heard elsewhere. Nowhere do I ever get the feeling that this is Eisbrecher…and I guess it is wrong of me to even make that comment because both are separate bands in their own right and have other contributing members. Possibly, singing in English helps with keeping the two totally apart and I must say, they have really mastered the language well so that lyrics aren’t just a translation of what you would say in German (which often doesn’t have the same meaning or work grammatically). In my opinion, I doubt the lyrics could have been portrayed as expressively in German – I mean, honestly, let’s admit that German is a harder language. But that’s just my two cents’ worth.
What really stands out for me with A Life Divided is something that no other band has ever achieved for me…the visual song. Usually I will listen to music and just hear the lyrics, not listen (yes, maybe on and off) and they tend to blend into the overall piece of music. Here, I just can’t help but listen to them properly without forcing myself to do so and they evoke such vivid visuals in my mind – yes, often dark and brooding, but that’s absolutely OK with me. Some songs stand out: Feel has a mood like no other. But most lyrical, meaningful and plain beautiful, and never soppy, is Wait for Me. Then, there is something energetic, catchy and dare I say perfect about Perfect Day with the duet sections just spot on in terms of the different voices, both from a voice type perspective but also juxtaposing contrasting voice box “timbre” – one harder the other softer (no offense to either musician).
Perpetual, ah, now that’s something to tell you about. The song itself is really cool but, have a look at the live snippet online (not sure what concert). I really like the way these guys don’t come across as arrogant rock stars but seemingly regular guys having fun doing what they love. Watch the guys and enjoy how they are having fun themselves giving the impression that they are really proud to be up there. And probably, just a little, having a power-kick, but then, who wouldn’t if they got to be on the stage? Personally, there’s something powerful about being on stage, so, why wouldn’t it be even more so for someone popular? That’s what makes me want to support them. I mean, sometimes you just want to know they are human and not on another unattainable planet called “celebrities” or “rock stars” which gives them the “automatic” right to be cold and clinical to their audience.
I’m glad they haven’t “boxed” themselves into a specific genre of music. That’s the beauty of this band. They seem to play how and when they feel – exactly what music is about – expression. They manage to create a solid album with the move between different tempi and styles so smooth, be it within a single piece or from one to the next. And have you ever listened carefully with a good clear set of earphones? You’ll be amazed at the wonderful harmonies, progressions, modulations, rhythms and melodies you will be discover. Really, take some time and you will find some really awesome ideas just there underneath the obvious but without which, the music wouldn’t be what it is. Every now and then you also get them indulging in the “stereotypical” heavy metal “vocals”. I have a good chuckle when this happens as it really works. As does the one piece with an operatic style section – well sung!
A Life Divided is really worth every cent of the ridiculous shipping fees and import duties to get a beautiful physical CD to this end of the world. But then all quality comes at a price.
Macht so weiter Jungs!
PS: The band’s latest CD Human has recently been released but that’s something I still need to get hold of. Based on what I’ve seen on their official video, it is some good stuff.