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Divine Design, indeed! - 93%

Hammertime, January 3rd, 2012

Constantine is a Finnish band that consist of young talented musicians who are strongly inspired by the likes of Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and Helloween. Their music is progressive heavy metal that reminds me a bit of good old Fates Warning. The well-structured songs are the most important thing here that means Constantine isn’t trying to boast of how skilful musicians they are. However, you can easily hear how amazing and capable drummer they have. Marko Möttönen is one of the best young metal drummers I’ve heard for a long time. The guitarists, Janne Seppänen and Janne Korpela are playing strong and fascinating riffs in each and every song of the album. They play their melodic heavy metal solos in the vein of Iron Maiden. You can almost imagine how Dave Murray would love to play these solos. You can also hear the bass player Antti Varjanne perfectly, infact his interesting playing is one of the reason why Constantine’s overall sound is so powerful and solid.

Lassi Vääränen’s high-pitched vocals are promisingly good. He’s not yet as good as Geoff Tate or Bruce Dickinson were during the 80’ies, not even close, but despite that fact his vocals are real pleasure to ears. He’s not only good at doing high-pitched vocals, he can also offer cool raspy voices and even haunting whispering. What is the best thing of Constantine is that the whole band knows exactly what they are doing. There’s a perfect balance between the instruments and vocals, perfect balance between almost everything you can hear.

All of the songs are very good. The best one is the epic that closes the album; The Darkest Grace is a song full of marvellous guitar playing, beyond great vocal melodies and lyrical content that gives you a lot of interesting soul-searching. I have rarely heard any other young heavy metal band that has offered a song as ambitious as The Darkest Grace on their very first album. Mercyful Fate’s debut album Melissa contained ambitious masterpiece Satan’s Fall, but hey - it was almost 30 years ago. Iron Maiden’s Phantom of the Opera is even older. It’s hard to compare The Darkest Grace to those classics but even it may not be as good as the mentioned ones it’s still a song worth checking for. Huge merit for a band as young as Constantine.

The album isn’t perfect but it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard for years. The drum sound could be even more dynamic and powerful. The drummer is so skilled that I would love to hear his playing in a best possible way. Divine Design is released by a small record label Palokka Records so we can’t wait miracles to happen as the resources weren’t huge. So, in a way it’s not fair to complain of the drum sound as the overall sound is surprisingly good. If you like your old school heavy metal edged with progressive shade then check out Constantine.