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Album Review: Divisions - Distance Over Time

24/09/2015 15:15 BST | Updated 23/09/2016 10:12 BST

Musical genres, eh? I don't know. I mean you knew where you were with Anthrax. And even in their heyday, you were never allowed to just be a metal fan. There was Thrash, Speed, Garage, Doom etc. Band names had to have a requisite violence to them. Megadeth, Annihilator, Motorhead (or, even better, the name they wanted to use - "Bastard!").

Then there's the spectre of Progressive Rock. Prog. People are afeard of prog. Not scared, afeard. Scared is too ordinary a word to describe people's reaction to prog. "It's all in a stupid time signature," say the more informed critics. I would argue that 7:4 is quite natural if you get the syncopation right, but then I'm argumentative. Many believe that, should you want to start a prog rock band, all you need to do is dress as a Phoenician priest, gel unlikely chords together and take the name of a 16th Century Explorer - and in some cases that's quite true.

So what of Alternative Rock then? What is it? Who are they? What do they eat?

When I was a lad, alternative rock was weedy and jangly, espousing comments about political vexation, dead ladies and vegetarianism. Now, what I would class as Hard Rock is being labelled alternative - largely because not very many people want to listen to it.

I think Alt. Rock (as it is oft abbrev.) exists in the world of rock taxonomy to cover bands who don't wish to be pigeon-holed.

So I'm going to go with this when classifying Distance Over Time, the debut release from London based 5-piece Divisions.

I can hear early Sting, Tears for Fears, Kings X, Pink Floyd, Muse and Damn the Machine. Having this many resonances without being derivative is perhaps the band's real triumph. Thoughtfully crafted songs, intelligently arranged, yet with an undoubtedly commercial appeal, Distance Over Time is going to be my outside punt for real impact over the next year. Whether Bloated Corporate Records (for it is they) have the savvy and clout to back these boys through the tawdry PR triathlon remains to be seen, but if they can get a foot in the revolving door, things might just get interesting.

Highlights include 'Suffer This' with it's roaring, layered chorus; 'Hear Me Out' where Vocalist David Thaxton flits between a mellifluousness not out of place on a Sade record and a lovely, measured huskiness; and 'Sew Up The Holes' where sincerity of emotion develops a clear pop sensibility. There's also 'Let's All Look Away', which has immediate political validity and could easily be released as a single with a picture of Viktor Orban on the front.

Thaxton's is a voice you will want to hear again. Textured, emotive, versatile and, importantly, interesting, it invites comparison's while stubbornly maintaining its own sonic identity. You'll almost hear Jeff Buckley, Matt Bellamy and Thom Yorke, but a few tracks in you'll just hear Thaxton.

If there is a weakness it lies in perhaps being too measured. The musicians are generous to each other. The selflessness of the arrangements, while admirable and mature, makes me want to hear how Divisions might sound if they let go. With a bit of extra edge, I reckon they'd be amazing.

Distance Over Time is released Friday. The Album launch is at 93 Feet East, London on November 21st. Anthrax are the main support*.

*This is in no way true.