without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
PsycheDOOMelic is probably the best current label for doom metal, and Pale Divine is a great example of the quality of their output. Pale Divine play a style of doom metal firmly rooted in the 70s and 80s, although they don't necessarily mimick one band in particular so it's difficult to compare them to anybody. Vocalist Greg Diener sounds quite a bit like Scott Reagers or Bobby Liebling or one of those others 80s doomy vocalists that did a good job of imitating Ozzy whilst disregardeing the Birmingham accent. He has a very powerful voice and is crucial to the band's sound, and songs like Dark Knight wouldn't be the same with Diener's lungs.
As for the actual songwriting, I'm reminded of different bands at different points of the album, yet the whole disc still flows consistantly and doesn't really sound mixed up, the band combines their influences well into a sort of doom pot pourri. Opener 'Amplified' is pure, unadultered rock and roll and reminds me more of Bishop than any gloomy doom metal band, even though it still has that deep, low sound to it. However, 'Gods Monsters and Men' actually has a Kyuss (BftRS-era) feel to it, whilst 'Dark Knight' has a strong epic vibe that reminds me of Manilla Road more than anybody else (especially in the fantastic vocal arrangements). Then we have the short, string-picked instrumental 'Dream Flower' that would sound right at home on Sabbath's Masters of Reality in place of Embryo or Orchid, and then John Klein's lead guitar reminds me of some really early bluesy metal, like Pentagram or even Blue Cheer (in tone and delivery).
You might expect the band to sound all over the place, but that isn't the case. This album flows nicely, one superbly well-written song after the other, and the influences are all sewn in well. The PsycheDOOMelic rerelease has two live bonus tracks, and they're both played so perfectly that you can tell this band has rehearsed their asses off. A very tight performance, which tells me two things. One, this band must be excellent live, so if you live in or around Pennsylvania then you should definitely be sure to go to a Pale Divine show, I can guarantee an excellent performance. And two, this being Pale Divine's first album, I'm sure they could have only improved on their later releases, so along with 'Thunder Perfect Mind' I would also recommend checking out their subsequent albums, any real doomheads should not be missing any Pale Divine in their collection.
Pale Divine were among a handful of bands who I first experienced via the old Mp3.com site (remember back when it didn’t suck?). Their Crimson Tears demo, while shoddily produced, was good enough to make me take note of them, watching for a legitimate debut later down the road. That finally came in 2001 with Thunder Perfect Mind (TPM). Gone is the crappy production, instead replaced by a massive sound providing a backbone for songs which are at once crushing, emotional, and somber.
Pale Divine’s sound is sort of a mixture of quite a few things. They’re not really a traditional doom band in the pure sense, though a lot of their stuff sounds that way. Likewise, calling this “stoner rock” is somewhat a misnomer as well, as TPM is often more focused than much of the droning stuff that gets labeled as such. There are a few psychedelic moments thrown in for good measure, such as the middle break in “Amplified”, and there’s even a healthy dose of inspiration taken from the 70s rock scene (you know the sound). If that sounds like a mess, well, trust me, it’s not.
There’s even a mix of song styles – you’ve got the epics (“Amplified” just crushes for most of its 11+ minutes, and “Judas Wheel” is also very solid) for sure, but the best song might be the brooding, almost semi-ballad – yet still mammoth heavy – “Star Child”, a song on which singer/guitarist Greg Diener puts on one hell of a performance dripping with power and emotion. He’s got a limited range, but his deep bellow is a perfect match for this style. Pentagram main man Bobby Liebling even checks in to do vocals on the last two tracks, one of them being, strangely enough, a Pentagram cover. While stylistically somewhat different from Diener, his vocals fit great, especially on “Dark Knight”.
The drums and bass are about as expected, solid but certainly not fancy. However, Diener’s guitar work is fabulous, rising far above the usual monotonous mega-heavy but simple-to-a-fault work seen on some similar albums. Deserving of special mention are the solos, some seemingly out of place on a doom album, yet still working perfectly. At times we get the standard “wall of noise” sound, but never once is melody sacrificed for sheer heaviness, as there almost always seems to be some sort of swirling guitar riff right around the corner. There aren’t many faults to note, though the “Dream Flower” song is a worthless 40 second acoustic dirge.
Fans of any of the styles mentioned in this review – traditional doom, stoner, 70s-fused metal, even slower traditional metal – should give Pale Divine a shot. Somehow this thing was allowed to go out of print despite being released in 2001, but it was recently reissued by PsycheDOOMelic, so it should be relatively easy to find. Head over to their official page to try some samples, and spread the word on Pale Divine as they still remain criminally unknown. Excellent stuff.