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Great potential - 75%

GuyOne, July 28th, 2010

The burst fire of the M-31 SUOMI submachine gun echoes through the forest as the bullets whiz across no-man's land. War was just beginning and would last nearly four cold months before coming to an end but as the gunfire faded away on that late-winter day the industrial-military complex Division XIX stomps its way through the bloodied field and presents its industrial melodic death for those Finns who will never forget.

At the beginning of the 00's Finnish had an explosion of melodic death metal bands (in some cases sounded like melodic power metal with harsh vocals) that all utilized keyboards to extends that sounded not only highly melodic but brought a new level of excitement to the music. The keyboard tones added atmospheres not usually obtainable with traditional metal instruments and Division XIX takes full advantage of this at every opportunity. The orchestra hits are abundant immediately after the intro and the song instantly breaks into its first verse that includes a melodic death metal riff and melodic keyboard melody nice wrapped into a package that feels slightly industrial. The choruses generally include atmospheric keyboards in unique tones but also choirs. It really works and though I find it not as exciting as the likes of Kalmah's They Will Return but it is a warm welcome back to a musical trend that seamlessly faded out as quick as it came in.

What would happen if we removed the keyboard melodies? Would the music still be able to hold itself high? The guitars do more than just hold rhythm on the not so keyboard heavy track Circle of Sorrow. Filled with quality death metal riffs and intensity that would still keep those interested who do not care too much for keyboard melodies in their metal. There is enough technical flair in these tracks to display sweeping scales and soloing without going overboard with an abundance. After all this is a demonstration of what the band can do together and not how good skills each individual musician has. Plenty of melodic palm muted riffs and palm muted rhythms below the choruses (usually keyboard driven melodies, especially the scaling on The Dead of the Night) and short bursts of tremolo riffing here and there to keep the intensity not in the spotlight but also not completely forgotten.

The flow of the songs is pulled off with expertise. Flow between riffs executed well so there are no abrupt and awkward transitions. Drums come through crystal clear with a high drum snare probably sticking out the most with the bass kicks pumping out interesting rhythms right behind it. The only issue I would have with the drumming is the high-hats are usually drowned by pretty much all the other elements going on. It is a real miss on the blast beats. The ending of Circle of Sorrow has a strange section where the blast beats are audibly lower in the mix -- but a minor problem in the otherwise well done performance.

It is nice to hear a few newer projects coming out who throw back to that Finnish sound that slowly faded out in the mid-00's. It shows sign that highly melodic death metal with keyboards hasn't been forgotten and while the older bands who explored this style a few years a go are eventually being replaced. Division XIX has a lot of potential through composing skills and musicianship. I for one will be keeping an eye on them.

Originally written for http://onnila.com/metal/