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Divinity Destroyed - "The Plague" (CD/EP)

Divinity Destroyed - "The Plague" CD/EP cover image

"The Plague" track listing:

1. Haven
2. These Waking Dreams
3. Prism
4. Void (acoustic)
5. Red Reflection (acoustic)
6. Forsaken (acoustic)

Reviewed by on October 17, 2007

"Now, the real highlights of this EP are the acoustic remakes"

Divinity Destroyed is a band that experiments with different styles, such as progressive rock, experimental, and punk, and combines them with metal. Each album they’ve released has been different from the last, which makes each new and different, but still retains the Divinity Destroyed stamp that’s hard to define. “The Plague” is no exception, which contains three new songs and three acoustic versions of older Divinity songs. Each of the three new songs transport you to new worlds, which are bound together through the use of the ambient or ethereal vocal delivery sided with powerful melodies, heard within every new song.

The first track, “Haven,” starts with a powerful chord leading to a short piano intro, which then transforms into strings with a chugging guitar and whispers saying, “I came back, I came back for you.” The vocalist, Mark Ward, then comes into focus for the pre-chorus singing in his upper range with power and full of emotion, which isn’t heard enough in vocal delivery in metal. The song progresses from what were once whispers in the intro into angry, distorted screams. The second verse is the same vocal style as the first, but with different lyrics. The real highlight of this track is drummer Dan Leonard. His powerful double-kick pounds away throughout the track, giving it an extra boost to make you want to move your head. Between those sections, he throws in some blast beats, triplets, and some powerful fills to keep the music’s momentum driving forward. This is by far the best new track on the CD.

I’ll be blunt, as much as I hate to say with such a great band, “These Waking Dreams” is too progressive for one song. This creates a very disjointed song that could have been multiple songs if drawn out. It has structure, but for some reason the riffs and changes don’t fit together. The first verse is very bland up until what seems to be the pre-chorus. Before the chorus there is a very interesting piano part that really catches the ear and pulls the song together with the chorus. The chorus is catchy, driving, and something to headbang to. Up until the second verse the song feels tight and together, but then it loses its momentum and falls flat on its face. I’ve heard this song live and I don’t remember it being this poor. Cheesy lyrics with weird word usage like “vertigo via roundabout” only detract from some of the great underlying music. Nonetheless, it is still an enjoyable song, just not on par with anything else Divinity Destroyed has done.

“Prism” is another one that sounded much better live than on CD. The song contains some cheesy lyrics, which hold it back, “time to take my life, I’ll slice away the skin with my knife, I hope they see they’ve brought the misery onto me,” etc. The lyrics are kind of “emo,” but also very dark, as in “help me I’m scared there is blood everywhere…” The lyrics really hold this potentially great song back. Musically, on the other hand, its pumping verses, catchy melodies, and progressive song structure allow it to be something most metal-heads will enjoy.

Now, the real highlights of this EP are the acoustic remakes. It is extremely rare that I hear bands redo old tunes into acoustic pieces as beautiful as these are. It really shows how talented this band is as writers and players. All of the acoustic remakes came off of their first album, “Nocturnal Dawn.” “Void” was originally a fast, simple Misfits-like/thrash song—a definite classic Divinity Destroyed song. When reworked into an acoustic masterpiece, the band ditched the drums then redid the bass and keyboard parts. The new keyboard parts provide more melody and embellishments than the original, which was mostly backing string parts. The bass does a lot more independent lines from the acoustic guitars, which provide the driving rhythm. The vocal harmonies are spot on and full. The atmosphere of the song really works with these songs. The interpretations of the other two songs, “Red Reflection” and “Forsaken,” are both done as well as “Void.” In “Red Reflection” a mandolin is used throughout the song, which takes a higher Spanish flamenco-rhythm detour from the main rhythm guitars. The amount of layers the band used to create these majestic acoustic versions takes these songs to another level. The use of harmonies and guitar overdubs really make the acoustic songs sound professional.

By contrast, the production of the new songs isn’t nearly as good as the acoustic tracks, though it’s still the best sounding production on any of their CDs. The mix is great and the drums can finally be heard in all their glory. The only thing the CD lacks on the production end is that the guitar tone is weak and a bit muddy. Overall, this EP is pretty good, though I would have liked to have heard the new songs be more polished in the song writing department. However, divinity has been a band that is usually more enjoyable live than on CD. I suggest this EP to fans of Divinity Destroyed or anyone with an open mind to metal, in addition to anyone who appreciates or enjoys acoustic music.

Highs: The acoustic tracks are beautiful and the new songs grow on you.

Lows: “These Waking Dreams” and “Prism” didn’t have enough momentum and drive to keep the CD moving.

Bottom line: Divinity Destroyed’s experimental taste is illuminated through the new songs on this EP, while also showing their slow, tranquil side with the acoustic songs.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)