December return with the follow up to the brilliant Sisters & Brothers.
Released: 1st December 2020
Label: Self Released
December have trodden a path over the past few years that has seen them playing in different continents to a fan base that has been built through a mutual love of U2.
Sisters & Brothers (review here) was released in 2018 and showed the cinematic heights that they can scale. God Is Not A Man continues their growth and sees their sound become more their own.
There are plenty of U2-isms throughout; chiming and emphatic guitars, driving bass, impassioned vocals and thumping, rabble rousing drums. There is also the heart and soul of the Dublin quartet, as well as the passion of Bruce Springsteen at his chest beating best.
God Is Not A Man contains ten tracks with each one having the ability to rock you to your core. Opening with lead single Maggie, the album shows its rocking intent as the guitars and drums thunder through with the vocals immediately grabbing the headlines. Based on a character created by novelist Joan Lingard, Maggie is a brilliant album opener.
Hill Valley Waltz has a hypnotic repetitive guitar line at its core. The anthemic nature of the song leads well to the continuation of energy in I Was The Lion. I Was The Lion has hints of U2’s Invisible.
In true folk music style, Culloden Battlefield And The Northwest references the place in Scotland where the battle of Culloden happened in the 1700’s. The title track opens with a strummed acoustic guitar motif that builds through swirling synths and more stunning vocals from Ails Pattison.
The Station At The Foot Of The Cross is arguably the album’s true highlight. Celtic tinged violin mournfully shines through atop a bed of brooding synth and downtempo drums. There is a little bit of Depeche Mode in amongst the mix here. As the violin takes centre stage, Ails Pattison again takes the plaudits in her beautiful vocal delivery.
Vying for attention as the albums’ highlight is My Downfall. For all the joy you can reap from Ails vocals, this is her pièce de résistance. The phrasing is perfect, the range is brilliant and the passion is unparalleled. It’s hard not to get fall under the spell of December.
In all the bombast that the band can bring, The Station At The Foot Of The Cross and My Downfall are downtempo pieces and just ooze emotion. When December pair things back, they really ratchet up the intensity. It’s a real testament to the trio as a whole with Scott Pattison and Paul Ferrie playing just as vital roles in the December sound.
December rarely get through an album without paying tribute to U2. They’re wonderfully unashamed in their love of one of the greatest bands that have ever walked the earth. On God Is Not A Man, they take a run at Heartland from U2’s Rattle & Hum. This ads to their already growing rank of covers. Heartland is an inspired choice for cover. It sits up there with their best renditions alongside A Sort Of Homecoming.
Ivanovna rounds out the album in epic fashion ending the journey brilliantly as all detours that have been taken on the album all converge to create a wondrous finale. The song tells the story of Dr Catherine Ivanovna Fellowes who holds a personal story within the December story (read more here). Sumptuous harmonies, guitars and drums that beg to be swayed along with and a crescendo that would fill the biggest halls comfortably ensure that God Is Not A Man is another fine addition to December’s growing canon.
Listen to Ivanovna from December, below. It contains an introduction by the band who share their thoughts on this deeply personal song.
If you feel like you would like to support December, connect with them on their social links. God Is Not A Man has been funded by donations from supporters and they have not let a single one of them down.