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man, 12-year-old me was a dumbass - 41%

RapeTheDead, December 2nd, 2019

Around the time that this album came out, Divinity was a band I considered to be new and super-exciting and among one of my favorites in the style (my favorite band was Scar Symmetry, if that gives you any indication of my terrible taste). I then forgot about them and proceeded to never listen to them for almost a decade and only decided to revisit them recently, so I have to wonder: what makes this band so initially appealing, but make me feel next to no compulsion to listen to them again for a long, long time? That’s a curious case to be in, especially because as I gave The Singularity its first initial re-listening, it didn’t sound bad at all. Sure, there were definitely some holdovers from the ‘00s metalcore era that I couldn’t fully ignore, but there were a lot of interesting and complex ideas - at the very least, this didn’t feel bland and artistically barren like most of the stuff I liked when I was in my early teens.

If anything, this still stands out as one of the more complicated takes on the hardcore-infused At the Gates worship that was really popular maybe 3-4 years before this. The occasional sudden breakdown and the scales the guitarists use in their riffing reveals that there’s still a couple of metalcore kids lurking among the band members, but the linear and clusterfucky song structures and (admittedly pretty nasty) soloing shows a clear attempt to add an extra degree of maturity to the style. The drummer is a really good fit for people who like a fast and complicated approach that prefers slower syncopation over blastbeats, and it’s hard to deny the dude’s ability, even if he does feel a bit busy at times. Most of the band does, really - I don’t think any of these guys listen to a lot of doom or would really give a shit about “playing with space” in their music. Sometimes, the busyness is overwhelming and it does contribute a bit to the overall lack of memorability present on The Singularity, but it doesn’t explain everything, because there’s still a couple of earworm moments that echo in your head a few times. The choruses of “Embrace the Uncertain” and “Lay in the Bed You’ve Made" are catchy enough (snarl in the vocals aside, more on that in a sec) and the opening riff of the final track is kinda neat. I do have a faint memory of hearing these songs in 2010, but it is noticeably faint, and definitely not as memorable as something should be if I apparently liked it a lot before.

One thing that time has definitely clarified for me, though, is that I don’t like Sean Jenkins’ base vocal style. When he does the low or actually tries to sing a clean note I can tolerate it, but unfortunately, most of his time on The Singularity is spent doing this yellish, middling, snarl-rasp thing that annoys the shit out of me. The worst is when he half-sings with it, almost like Travis Ryan’s non-cleans with way less dynamic or appeal. Unfortunately, he is also a very busy vocalist, just like every other musician on this album, filling every segment of a song with all of the musical ideas it can take. His natural tone isn’t my thing, and it’s only after familiarizing myself with everything harsh vocals can do that I truly realize that.

Although close listening to these songs doesn’t reveal a lot of immediate faults - really, these guys have excellent musicianship and you can tell they write balls to the wall and put everything all out there - but as a result this tries to be too many things and ends up sounding like none of them. Each song is a haphazard mix of melo-death-thrash-groove-prog riffs in a blender with no clear beginning or end except for maybe a chorus that repeats if you’re lucky. This is the kind of band that would sound and look super cool onstage, but you wouldn’t remember what a single one of their songs sounded like after they were done playing.