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The Fallen Divine - "The Binding Cycle" (CD)

The Fallen Divine - "The Binding Cycle" CD cover image

"The Binding Cycle" track listing:

1. Dissension (7:31)
2. Shades of Oppression (5:27)
3. Fire Lights the Night (Self Ignition) (5:39)
4. Patterns Through Eternity (3:49)
5. Northern Lights (8:03)
6. Replenished (6:13)
7. The Tormented One (4:58)
8. The Binding Cycle (6:35)

Reviewed by on December 25, 2011

"'The Binding Cycle' comes off as performed by professionals who have spent copious amounts of effort in rehearsing and picking these songs apart."

Instead of waiting for a record deal to land in their laps, The Fallen Divine is being proactive and self-releasing their first album, “The Binding Cycle.” It’s a move that seems to be spreading in metal, giving the artist control over their material and how it is distributed. For a young band like The Fallen Divine, this could be a way to get noticed by a worldwide audience, as well as potential labels. Their progressive-tinged metal sound is well-developed, and Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) gives them the flexibility to expand into various genres without having production/mixing issues tampering their development.

The band cuts any filler from their sound, leaving behind an eccentric melting pot of styles. The band might start out a song on an aggressive streak, break away into a jazzy interlude, return to the heaviness, and end with a soft acoustic melody. It’s all over the place, yet the band keeps these songs from just being a series of unrelated ideas. The transitions are very tight, and none of the songs come off like Larocque was piecing tracks together in Pro Tools.

“Dissension” is a great display of The Fallen Divine’s talent, both from a technical and a songwriting viewpoint. Each band member gets to break away from the rest of the members, which includes a wicked bass solo and trade-off/harmonic guitar solos, and vocalist Magnus Kvist also doubles as the keyboardist. While his screamed vocals are unspectacular, his work on the keys is a major atmospheric tool. He is more of an enhancer to the song than a lead instrument a la Kevin Moore.

Kvist goes all ‘70s with some organ action on “Northern Lights” and puts out a melancholy piano intro to the title track. The former takes up over eight minutes, the time of which is spent dwelling into folk territory with soulful guitars and giving bassist Christoffer Wig the head spot in moving the song forward. That tune, along with “Dissension,” really put into perspective the band’s agenda of having a majestic scope to branch these songs off of.

It’s when The Fallen Divine sticks to a scaled-back version of themselves, like they do on “Patterns Through Eternity,” that the material begins to sound timid and boring. There isn’t much depth to the track, and it sounds more like generic modern metal than something creative (“The Tormented One”). Just because a track is long doesn’t automatically make it something grand, though it seems that way with the praise given to the tracks above. “Replenished” has little appeal beyond a few decent harmonic guitar leads, and “Fire Lights the Night (Self Ignition)” is saved by Kvist’s reliable keyboards.

Many bands that release their own albums get forced under by intrepid songs or a lack of support, but The Fallen Divine doesn’t have much to worry about concerning the first part. “The Binding Cycle” comes off as performed by professionals who have spent copious amounts of effort in rehearsing and picking these songs apart. A few tracks are weaker than others, but it’s not enough to drag the album into parts unknown. Whether the second part - a lack of support - hurts the band is something that can’t be determined without some time passing.

Highs: A whirlwind of different genres, band is technically sound, keyboards add a lot of atmospheric touches to the music

Lows: A few weaker tracks out of the bunch, harsh vocals are bland

Bottom line: An enjoyable debut album from a Norwegian progressive metal band that draws influences from black, folk, and death metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)