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Fearscape - "Scent of Divine Blood" (CD)

Fearscape - "Scent of Divine Blood" CD cover image

"Scent of Divine Blood" track listing:

1. Scent of Divine Blood (10:15)
2. Abaddon Destroyer (5:37)
3. Inheritance of Dust (8:50)
4. Falls of Crimson Free (6:45)
5. Terrible Majesty (7:55)
6. Ex Animus Ad Astrum (12:57)

Reviewed by on September 23, 2008

"When the distorted electric guitars make their appearance it is immediately apparent that Fearscape doesn’t limit itself to the genre that spawned it alone. "

The religious sub-genre of Christian “unblack” metal is a controversial thing in the extreme music scene. Supporters of Christianity will generally hate the bands in the genre just as much as black metal traditionalists who are angry that their music of choice has been hijacked by the people they see as responsible for the decline of their older religions. This sort of environment is actually the perfect spawning ground for religious themed music, as it makes the bands feel like they are being persecuted for preaching their beliefs. Fearscape has surprisingly dropped the annoying martyr complex and taken a much more mature approach to their unorthodox musical styling. Rather than getting crucified by all angles and whining about it incessantly, the band has instead used the heat as a crucible, forging themselves into better musicians in the quest to be taken seriously.

“Scent of Divine Blood” brings out an immediately mystifying and intriguing aura with an acoustic guitar opening that builds up slowly with the addition of backing sound effects, slow drum notes, and then a solid rhythm electric guitar segment that keeps all ears focused intently on the music. The introduction seems like a primer of sorts, with its measured build up towards heaviness, for their more mainstream listeners who aren’t used to hearing screams or blast beasts in their music. When the distorted electric guitars make their appearance it is immediately apparent that Fearscape doesn’t limit itself to the genre that spawned it alone. The album is unmistakably rooted in black metal, but the heavy thrash aspects lean more towards constant head banging than sacrificing innocents to the horned goat, and the strong melodic presence makes the whole thing fun to listen to.

There is no wall of sound to work through on “Scent of Divine Blood,” setting it apart from cult black metal. The bass lines are also always clearly understandable, which goes a long way towards helping out the melodic segments that show up frequently to keep the songs from getting boring. The vocals are firmly mired in the black metal rasp, sounding quite a bit like Aphazel from the band Ancient but with a wider range. The growls have enough of a human presence behind the brutality to give off a feeling that the vocalist is some sort of fallen angel or mischievous fae creature recounting dark fairy tales to a captive audience. Distant clean vocals are thrown into the mix every now and again, usually as a faded wailing or moaning in the background. If the vocals could be understood without diving into the insert they would catch many listeners by surprise, as they could easily be interpreted as either Christian-oriented lyrics that focus on the more bloodthirsty and barbaric portions of the bible, or as straight up anti-Christian lyrics that make references to specific aspects of the religion or events in the bible.

Much of the album carries the menacing and malevolent feel that black metal fans crave, like the song “Terrible Majesty,” which opens with a clean singing ritual invocation much like those found on more openly evil albums. The clean vocals gradually get harsher as the chant progresses, finally exploding into growls and screams that sound just as demonic as anything on an a standard black metal disc. The song “Abbadon Destroyer” also keeps the dark fury flowing freely with its thick thrash sound and non-stop growling vocal assault.

The only major gaffe committed on “Scent of Divine Blood” is the unfortunate attempt at progressiveness in the final song that falls short and comes off as a silly gimmick. “Ex Animus Ad Astrum” is a mostly acoustic song that ushers in a bittersweet and melancholy mood, seeming like it’s going for a masterful prog rock finale with its thirteen minute time frame. The song abruptly stops, literally mid-note, at the three and half minute mark and then proceeds for another nine minutes of complete and total silence. The band explained in an interview that they were trying to give the feeling of happiness tinged with sorrow that would be felt when conversing with a loved one during their last remaining minutes on earth before death suddenly takes them. Anyone who hadn’t read that explanation wouldn’t have ever got that impression just by listening to the song, and instead would have been left feeling cheated out of what should have been an extra nine minutes of an otherwise great disc, as though the silence were just a means of padding the overall album length.

“Scent of Divine Blood” combines the cold and dark evil of the black metal pioneers and current torch bearers with the melodic aspects of symphonic metal bands, and then throws in a dash of thrash for some added spice. Unblack metal fans should be in a veritable rapture listening to the album, while fans of melodic influenced black metal who don’t mind an opposing view point should thoroughly enjoy it as well.

Highs: Cold and brutal black metal, head banging thrash, and a strong sense of the melodic

Lows: A few silly lyrics, and a failed attempt at originality in the final song

Bottom line: Melodic black metal with thrash leanings and "take it or leave it" religious lyrics

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)