Thursday 22 April 2021

Infinite & Divine - Infinite & Divine (2021)

Country: Sweden
Style: Melodic Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 9 Apr 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives

Infinite & Divine are a duo, with Jan Åkesson playing all the instruments and Tezzi Persson adding her voice, so I can only expect that he's the infinite and she's the divine. It makes sense, of course, for the obvious reasons, but it's 2021 and I don't want to assume. Maybe their name refers to the versatility of Persson's voice and the crystal clean sound of Åkesson's guitar. Who knows. I can certainly read it a number of ways, all of which work.

This is their first album together, though Åkesson leads his own band, Jan Åkesson's Shadow Rain and has performed in a number of others, most obviously the melodic heavy metal band StoneLake. What leaps out to me from his career is that some of his bands have pages on Metal Archives but others do not. This one does and I have no argument with that, especially given how metallic his guitar tends to sound, but it's fundamentally melodic rock that's just a bit heavier than normal. I'd call it hard rock as often as I'd call it heavy metal.

For a reference point, the second song, that's named for the band, plays very much to me like an early Bon Jovi song. It's smooth and commercial and radio friendly, but it still has a little edge, like Åkesson had done a stint in Ozzy Osbourne's solo band somewhere between Randy Rhoads and Jake E. Lee. It's inherently focused on the melodic too, without any real metal crunch but with many squealing guitar moments to heavy it up a bit and many keyboard moments to lighten it back up again. Not Too Late is a great example of both, starting out with a riff that's rare here in how overt it is but then adding an all-encompassing layer of keyboards over it.

The result is classy and elegant. Even if it seems like it's constantly walking the line between the twin genres of hard rock and heavy metal, it's very comfortable where it is and I like this balance, any song going in a melodic pop direction one moment and then returning to a metal guitar solo the next. The reason it works so well, I think, is Persson's vocal, which effortlessly moves through whatever might be needed by any particular song. She can sing pop in a Bangles style, shift up to the female fronted soft rock norm in a heartbeat, shift up again to go full hard rock and finally hit top gear with powerful belt like she's an eighties metal queen. She does all that in Wasteland in a couple of lines.

My favourite song here may be We are One, which gets a little poppy at points, even including a sung/spoken duet in the Pat Benatar style, but it never becomes a ballad. That's the one song where I think everything Infinite & Divine does comes together most naturally and effectively, but there are a host of other easy standouts. Persson turns up the sass dial on Keep On Moving, gets all emotional on Off the End of the World and plays sultry on I Feel Alive. Åkesson slides in decent guitar solos all over the place. None of these songs lets the album down.

If there's a flaw, it's that, while Persson is doing one thing and Åkesson at least five, it often seems as if he's there to support her and that seems contrary. He's most obvious here as a guitarist, a role he's more than able to fill. He's also obvious as a keyboardist, especially on the softer numbers (which are not particularly soft, just softer). He also played bass, sang backing vocals and programmed the drum tracks too, so he's a busy man here who shines in each of those tasks, unsurprisingly given that it's he who's the member of the band with most experience. However, Persson is so naturally comfortable in her voice and the versatility of that voice that she dominates without ever trying to. She's definitely a name to follow.

In the meantime, here's a classy beginning to her recording career that's effortlessly good. If you're into European melodic rock, this is another must buy for 2021.

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