Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Soulful stand-outs - 85%

gasmask_colostomy, June 28th, 2020

When listening extensively to doom metal, most people will hit a problem after a reasonably brief period. That problem boils down to a lack of variety in certain purveyors of doomy heavy sounds, since some of the best riffs have lurked around for 50 years now, being continually reappropriated and, well, ripped off. It’s not all Black Sabbath clones we’re talking about either: think how easy it is to point fingers to Trouble when doom hits higher pace, compare with Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus when things take an epic power metal turn, or that countless slew of bands employing the Maryland style pioneered by The Obsessed. Sounding familiar doesn’t always rule a new prospect out, yet chances of quality diminish when songs seem predictable and a group take inspiration from one archetype or another.

Pale Divine therefore have the strong advantage of standing out. Since they should clock you in the side of the head a moment after pressing play, the instrumental tones seem like a good place to start. Chunky guitars swing with a hard rock clout, allowing the deliciously warm bass of Ron McGinnis plenty of room for manoeuvre, while Darin McCloskey patters about on a bluesy drumkit, cymbals tapping and taut snare clacking out through the starchy musk of the strings. When 'Broken Martyr' pulls back to sit in a tight pocket, Pale Divine groove like pure rock, a Southern soulfulness lilting in from the vocals and sinuous guitar leads; yet 'No Escape' opts for a heavy metal gallop akin to Grand Magus and 'Phantasmagoria' booms out fat chords, the crisp sound serving both intentions equally well. The guitars are occasionally joined at breakdowns by a momentary burst of organ disguised well enough that it could just be the excess clash of strings and cymbals.

The quartet have grown vocally too, Dana Ortt joining since the self-titled effort 2 years ago and supplying around half the singing alongside Greg Diener. That brings the number of ex-Beelzefuzz men to a threesome, though after laying to rest the stoner doom project Ortt’s unusually graceful high voice adds a whole new dimension to Consequence of Time. Diener’s sumptuous baritone suits the sections of powerful riffing perfectly, allowing comparisons to Argus at times, while Ortt waxes ethereal in a more classic manner, surging into the higher registers as 'Satan in Starlight' hots up. In some ways, the guitarists operate like a male/female vocal pair, softening up conditions for one another to change the angle of approach and keeping the music shifting in a supple sway between classic heavy rock and bolder doomy fare. Firing off leads regularly and at unpredictable moments in songs certainly helps maintain interest just as much.

Indeed, if variety provides one way to conquer generic influences, Pale Divine grasp another opportunity to differentiate themselves. The 8 cuts included on Consequence of Time leave some distance between one another in terms of style, favouring the stripped-down approach of Pentagram and especially The Obsessed in the manner of quick guitar fills on 'Shadow’s Own', while 'Tyrants & Pawns' opens the album like the beginning of a quest devised by Manilla Road and completed by Iron Man. Crucially, the songwriting rarely leaves obvious signposts, meaning that the hooks retain their potency when the band return to choruses. On the other hand, a sudden fill could introduce a new movement or brief solo, which is key to keeping the title track going across 10 minutes of confident riffing, emotional vocals, and lead guitar nirvana. Better still, nothing feels dispensable on a 43 minute album, even if 'Broken Martyr' could have used a touch more focus and 'No Escape' stands the most danger of being called derivative.

In terms of the doom metal conundrum, Pale Divine end up in the healthy situation of sounding familiar but unpredictable. The scope of influences, particularly those from the US scene, won’t surprise, yet the vocal interplay and the dramatic tautness of the songs should please most fans. There was never much wrong with the doom template in the first place, so a band who can cement together riffs, melodicism, and soulfulness, then throw in excellent solos must be acknowledged. Consequence of Time manages to do all that with aplomb.

Originally written for The Metal Observer -

She Sang Me Her Song As I Walked Through the Haze - 85%

Twisted_Psychology, June 26th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, 12" vinyl, Cruz del Sur Music

It’s hard to think of Pale Divine’s workingman doom as a style that could change all that much, but their sixth album is unlike anything else they’ve ever released. Much of that shift can be directly attributed to the recruitment of Dana Ortt as a second guitarist and co-vocalist. It’s a pretty logical move when you consider that guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey had previously played with Ortt in Beelzefuzz but even as a fan of both groups, Consequence of Time takes some getting used to.

With Beelzefuzz, having unfortunately disbanded in 2019, I do find myself wondering how much of this material was originally intended for that project. The wafting waltzes on “Phantasmagoria” and “Saints of Fire” could’ve come straight from The Righteous Bloom, and even the more straightforward riff sets on songs like the title track carry a dreamlike vibe. Ortt’s vocals also seem more prominent than Diemer’s husky bellow, seeming to not only taking the lead more often but generally standing out due to their higher pitch.

Fortunately, the musicians’ pre-existing chemistry keeps these elements from getting too uncanny. The riffs and rhythms keep up the groovy tradition seen with both bands, upbeat and off-the-cuff with a tightness that never gets too stiff. “Shadow’s Own” and “Broken Martyr” also show off a lightheartedness reminiscent of 70s rock, and there are moments where the vocal interplay reminds me of a doomy answer to MKIII-era Deep Purple.

Of course, the album’s experimental nature leaves room for future fine-tuning. The production job feels somewhat claustrophobic as the vocal layers can get buried at times while the guitars would benefit from some extra weight. Everything is coherent and well played but could stand to be fuller. Part of me also wishes there were more emphasis on the choruses, but the riffs are easygoing and varied enough for it to not be a serious concern.

Once you get used to Pale Divine’s adjustments, Consequence of Time proves to be a pretty great offering of psychedelic doom. The otherworldly atmosphere and free-spirited pacing are a far cry from the morose musings of Cemetery Earth or even their 2018 self-titled album, but the band’s knack for tight riffs and efficient songwriting is on full display. This is definitely a grower, but those who were acquainted with Beelzefuzz will find this easier to get a feel for. Considering how great Pale Divine’s track record has been from the get-go, I imagine future developments with this lineup will be even stronger.

“Tyrants & Pawns (Easy Prey)”
“Consequence of Time”

Originally published at Indy Metal Vault