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For some reason, Australian bands have been lately surprising me. Perhaps it's just me, because I seem to be in a spree of discovering bands from that country, but there's always something interesting in the prog-related genres there. I've been recently listening to alternative "proggy" rock bands, such as Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect, and I'm finding this band to share some aspects in their music.
I remembered Chaos Divine for being yet another mediocre melodic death metal band that tried too hard to sound "extreme", often grazing core elements. This album is far from that and they decided to leave the MDM approach and move towards a more progressive metal sound retaining some "extreme" metal elements which are often compromised of growls and occasional heavier riffing. The basic formula is simple, yet effective.
Vocals seem to be the biggest improvement. I'd say it's 85% clean vocals and 15% growls, and some songs don't have growls at all. They are definitely emotional and fit songs perfectly, yet there are some minor weak parts here and there, but I think the singer is definitely improving his clean vocals. Growls are a nice break from all the clean stuff and seem to be in the right spots. Diction is crystal clear, and this is another factor I'm finding in common with other Australian bands (and I sure as hell can't understand an Aussie speaking, so it's not that the accent is the reason). I really like his vocal work in "Silence" and "No Road Home (Solastalgia)" (listen to the harmonization in this song!, for example, during the verse that starts with "desperate, clutching straws")
The guitar work is a blend of simple, typical alternative rock riffs and some moderate technical playing which often resembles progressive metal bands like Dream Theater (e.g.: "Silence"). They are often placed in the background, yet still define each song, but suddenly you are hit by a very catchy riff, making a song stand out from the rest. An example of this is "Beautiful Abyss" at 03:30. Some melodies do remind me of MDM bands, like Scar Symmetry (the aforementioned song's main theme is a good example). Again, "No Road Home (Solastalgia)" features the best guitar compositions of the album and it's one of the few songs that has a solo.
Drum work is quite good too, but it is not the band's strongest component. While the drummer seems to be rock solid (at least in the studio, and I do know that the mixer can fix mistakes), I can't seem to remember fills or drum patterns that were outstanding. I do like what he did in my favorite song, "No Road Home (Solastalgia)", especially during the intro that's written in a complex time signature. Unfortunately, this is the only song in which I remember the drum work for standing out.
Finally, production is perfect, total up to today's standards. I'm not surprised as this was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren, a celebrity when talking about audio engineers. There's not much else to say about this: it's clear, it's heavy, each instrument can be properly heard, vocal and keyboard arrangements are sweet… the man is a genius.
To close up, I think that all songs are well balanced. The album starts great and follows nicely (track 2 reminds me of Be'lakor and Insomnium on some parts), with some decrement in quality on tracks 3 and 4, rising up again on tracks 5 and 6. There's a dive on track 7, which I think could have been left out of this album. It is definitely the most try-hard song of the album and kind of fails at doing so. The next track is slightly better, but I'm not really liking the vocals. Fortunately the last song makes you easily forget about this and closes up the album magnificently. It's definitely the best track and I hope they focus on its songwriting for their next efforts.
• 1. One Door
• 4. Chasing Shadows
• 9. No Road Home (Solastalgia): my absolute favorite!