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Headbanger's Ball's Most Extreme Offering - 75%

SilenceIsConsent, July 30th, 2008

Let me say I've never been into Fear Factory at all. In fact, I never listened to Fear Factory at all until very recently. So I am not going compare this album to anything that Dino ever put out wit Fear Factory, simply because I have not listened to enough Fear Factory to judge Divine Heresy's debut album to such. What attracted me to this album was not Dino Cazares getting back into the metal spotlight, but it being another project for drum master Tim Yeung. This alone is what prompted me to buy Divine Heresy's debut album.

The first thing right off the bat here is that this is an album that Headbanger's Ball wants. This is an album that is part of the mainstream glutton known as metalcore that makes a lot hardcore pansies infest metal circles. However, it should be noted that there is a lot going for Divine Heresy, and that does not necessarily make this a horrible album. It is just that it is an album made for the mainstream core kid who other then metalcore listens to Pantera and Metallica. In that sense, the album is brought down already. Right from the get go, you can tell that this album is ready made for Headbanger's Ball, a once great force in heavy metal now tarnished by mainstream garbage pumped out by record labels.

Don't think of Bleed The Fifth as a piece of garbage. What Divine Heresy does make up for in is the fact that unlike many metalcore bands, they are actually heavy, and have quite a bit of skill to offer compared to other bands in their field. In a sense, their roster is probably the thing that makes Divine Hersey so good. First off, Dino Cazares is one of the co-creators of the riff and drum patterns that many of the metalcore bands today are influenced off of. That helps this album tremendously, because Dino goes way beyond simple one chord riffs (though there are plenty of them here) and does plenty of more technical riffs throughout Bleed The Fifth along with some trem picked parts that help out the album quite a bit. The fact that the guy is bothering to play leads is quite awesome. Dino's mostly known for his wicked picking hand during riffs, but man the guy can sure play a wicked guitar solo. Many of the solos here feel like they came right off of a real brutal death metal album and will rip your face off with their intensity and technicality. Though there are not many of them, the fact that they are good makes me hope that in future Divine Heresy songs, Dino's lead and solo work takes a greater prominence.

Speaking of a brutal death metal feel, that's probably the reason why Divine Heresy's debut sounds so great. This album doesn't have the feel of Gothenburg style metal output mixed with hardcore, this album has the feeling of brutal death metal with slight groove metal touches. Much of that is due to Tim Yeung, who adapts to the role that Dino puts forth here very nicely. Tim's probably most well known for his wicked blast beats, and there are lots of them here. That was somethng that was never there on Fear Factory, and something most metalcore bands leave out. His double bass really pummels along and it's absolutely blistering much of the time, much of it running in unison with Dino's picking hand like Raymond did in Fear Factory. We also hear him doing some rapid bursts that are very thrash like and sound pretty nice. Tim does not really reserve himself much on Bleed The Fifth (something I would have normally put him down for) but this time the fact that he did was such a good thing. As a result, Divine Heresy does not really seem to stop much and always seems be moving a forward state of momentum. . However, I do feel that this album doesn't really do Tim justice. Compared to other works Tim has done with other bands (in particular with Hate Eternal, Decrepit Birth, and Vital Remains), his work in Divine Heresy is not nearly as technical as previous efforts he's partaken in. Also the fact that this guy triggers the hell out of his drums really makes him loose points. It just makes things sound like a beat box and not like real drums. Also there are not many great fills by the guy, so in that area he has fallen behind a bit.

As for Tommy Cummings, he's a mixed back. The one thing I really admire about Cummings are his highly audible growls and shrieks, which are clearly very much in the hardcore vein but very very audible. He does not really sound like a lot of other metalcore or melodic death metal vocalists, neither is he some lame Phil Anselmo knock off, and he kind of stands out very well. He doesn't really sound very brutal but the fact that his "extreme" vocals are so audible really helps out things a lot. The clean vocals are for the most part merely okay. Sometimes I think they are really annoying (such as on Savior Self) but other times I like them (such as on Failed Creation). I do think that maybe Tommy utilizes the clean vocals a bit too much, for many times they feel like they are drawn out too much or are just in the wrong place. Sometimes they sound like they could have honestly belonged on an alternative rock album (dig Closure for this). Vocal pattern wise, it is a lot of typical metalcore style vocal patterns, in unison with the bass drums and guitar riffs and that gets boring after awhile and is really nothing special. One final aspect that I must note is that Tommy sounds very natural and not forced. His voice does not seem very over enhanced in the studio and that is a plus, so if you were to hear this guy singing you could pick him out among other metalcore vocalists because of his generally natural sounding voice.

The lyrics are generally tougher and more thought provoking then most metalcore bands. While most either go with a quasi death metal approach and try to be like "I'm slitting my wrists because I suck at life" or "I'm not going to let you push me around anymore because I'm a tough guy" sort of thing. These are very focused on society. Much of these were inspired in fact by Dino living in Hollywood (according to interviews with the guy), and while they do have a certain Pantera esque "don't piss me off" sort of thing going on in some of them, for the most part they are more about society and related topics to it such as racism, religion, the media, and other things. There are some more emo things here and there as well as some "I'm going to kick your ass" type stuff but those things do not take center stage at all on Bleed the Fifth and generally are much more thought out and thought provoking then I thought they could be.

One thing I think this album could have really done without for the most part are the annoying keyboards. They are absolutely unnecessary to have. These come up for the most part on occasional songs such as Savior Self, False Gospel, and Royal Blood Heresy. I do not think these belonged at all, and are a real distraction to the music. They do not provide any epic feel to the music and do not give the music any extra atmosphere whatsoever. I really would have hoped if Dino had left these behind, since the guy is out of Fear Factory so why can't he just leave the industrial aspects such as the keyboards and samples out. The only time where these benefit at all are on the title track, Royal Blood Heresy, Savior Self, and This Threat is Real. Otherwise they did not need to be here at all.

Production is typical modern production. Very clean, with highly polished guitar tone and very triggered drums. The bass work is unable to be heard (though I do not think it really matters since it is Dino doing the bass here), so I hope that now they got metal bass master Joe Payne among their ranks Divine Heresy can mix an album that includes the bass. Vocals however, as stated before, are unaffected and benefit from such greatly. Overall it is modern production and nothing really special about it. It is not very distinct and does not really do anything for me much.

Songs are monotonous but are easy to tell apart to Dino's guitar parts or samples put in key places to remind you that a song is over. One thing that brings this down is the generally similar fret work on the rhythmic part of Dino, and that ends up really boring the crap out of me after a few listens. However, they do have a real sense of brutality brought on by Tim's drums and the tremolo picking and solos that most metalcore bands do not bother having. Probably the best song on the album is Bleed The Fifth, while the worst is easily Closure. Other then those, the rest of the tracks are just decent or sub par.

Divine Heresy has been labeled as the return for Dino Cazares, and fans of Dino's previous work will probably like it. Core kids are certainly going to like this, and maybe even a few real death metal fans might really be into Bleed The Fifth to an extent. I do not think any old school fans will be praising Bleed The Fifth much, but it is not so bad when you listen to it once. All in all, it's a decent debut that gets a bit too much hype but otherwise it is worth the listen and has something that most metalcore albums claim to have but do not at all. That thing my friends, is brutality, and brutality is something that Divine Heresy definitely has.