|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Tate Publishing||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2011||Artist Website: Crucible Divine|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 45:46|
Like it or not, independent bands have become a staple in the Christian hard music scene. Within the past year we have seen a literal plethora of independently released music, ranging in style from bluesy hard rock (Crosswire & Dead Moons Grey) to groove driven hard rock (Lordchain) to traditional metal (Testify). In between we have also encountered progressive metal (Torman Maxt & Sombre Holiday) in addition to a joining of hard rock, fusion and progressive rock (Visual Cliff).
Of course, with so many independent bands a need for labels to support them exists; hence, the presence of Retroactive Records, Soundmass, Roxx Productions, Intense Millennium and Tate Publishing. Tate Publishing is one of the newer labels to get in on the act, releasing in early 2011 the full length debut of Detroit, Michigan based MediSin Wheel, Fire On The Moon. Tate Publishing returns in the spring of 2011with another promising new band, Crucible Divine and its debut Commitment.
Crucible Divine is one of those unique acts that could not but help make a very positive first impression with me. My introduction to the group was the amazing cover of “Ramming Speed” (originally off Stay Of Execution) it recorded for the Deliverance tribute CD Temporary Insanity. The Crucible Divine version was right up my alley musically, combining aspects of traditional and melody metal while highlighting elements of the epic, operatic and symphonic. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement.
Needless to say, I waited with great anticipation the release of Commitment in hopes for more of the same. The album, unfortunately, under whelmed the first couple listens. Sometimes false expectations can set your standards so high - almost to the point of being unfair - that you end up let down as a result. And such is the case here in that there is actually much more to Crucible Divine than what is presented on “Ramming Speed”.
Yes, the group showcases some harder edges to its sound, such as on the traditional metal influences to “Woe To You” and “No One Like You Left” and the classic melodic metal flavorings of “Won’t Let Go”. But Crucible Divine can also take a more tempered approach, as it does on the melodically driven “The Road Not Taken” and the albums moody and subdued title track. These five pieces find the group at its best songwriting wise in coming across like a hybrid of Rivera Bomma, nineties Deliverance, Sacred Warrior and Stryper but mixed with occasional Saint style aggression.
The albums remaining material can best be described as competent but not quite on the same level. You have two worship rock pieces, one that works (“Praise To You”) and one that doesn’t (“Let Your Reign”), in addition to an attempt at melodic hard rock (“Tell Me”). Rounding things out is an acoustic version of “The Road Not Taken”.
It was a matter of taking a step back from the project (and adjusting my expectations in the process) in order to gain appreciation that Crucible Divine is content bringing a certain amount of variety. Now, I do not mind variety, but the problem is that the songwriting quality varies, particularly over the albums final half. Hence, the final grade was problematic in that the albums stronger material reflects the groups significant promise and its weaker some rough edges that require a certain amount of polish.
Vocalist Clint Glazner is a first rate talent, highlighting a powerful and gutsy (at times operatic) delivery that hints somewhat of Johnny Bomma (Rivera Bomma). He stays mostly in mid-ranged territory but is more than capable of letting loose with a high end falsetto.
Founding member Raymond Christie and Kevin Wale combine for all rhythm guitar and bass duties. Wale handles lead guitar and presents with a nice feel and touch to his playing while helping lend an eighties edge to the project in the process. It also must be noted the remarkable bass lines contributed by the two to “Commitment” and “Woe To You”.
Production is a mixed bag. A good balance of lead and rhythm guitar can be found but vocals end up mixed a bit forward. Also, the highs are often exaggerated, which leads one to believe the project was not properly mastered.
Packaging is fine with nice artwork and easy to read lyrics but nowhere in the liner notes do the members of the band get mentioned.
Track By Track
First five songs are excellent.
Opener “Woe To You” reflects a traditional metal vibe. Interspersed with hard charging double bass, the song highlights a big, rumbling bass line for its versed but can kick into high gear for a curtly done chorus upheld by shouted backing vocals. The last minute is instrumental with a lengthy stretch of lead guitar. Lyric snippet:
Woe to you Pharisees and teachers of the law
You live your lives so reckless and free
You think you know it all
You set your seat in high places
And do your work to be seen by all
You shut the kingdom in men’s faces
And they turn and watch them fall
“Won’t Let Go” takes the more melodic heading. Wale demonstrates his prowess throughout this one, decorating the songs length with his snarling rhythm guitar work while adding several stretches of radiant soloing. Glazner stands out as well with several well timed falsettos.
The acoustic laced “The Road Not Taken” borders on ballad territory. The song, however, is not all acoustic in that occasional traces of rhythm guitar can be found, particularly for its emotionally charged chorus. The end result is an almost haunting if not sublime work that represents Crucible Divine songwriting at its best. Lyric snippet:
They never looked at the road not taken
They close their eyes and never want to see
How Your love can set them free
I chose the path along the rocky way
The narrow gate was hard to climb
The way of life that Jesus gave to me
I found it on the road not taken
Low-key and moody, “Commitment” literally breathes of a punchy bass line in maneuvering its distance in smooth mid-paced fashion. No, not the albums heaviest - the rhythm guitar is a bit on the subdued side of things (and in no way is that a critique) - but the pronounced melody and faith based lyrics will have you returning time and again:
He gave his Son to die on the cross
And now I’m free within
You’re a part of the fellowship of the unashamed
You have stepped over the line, the decision has been made
Your past’s redeemed, your future secure, the race
I know you’ll win
You’re a disciple of Jesus Christ
And you won’t look back again
“No One Like You Left”, the albums longest at six and a half minutes, starts to some offbeat vocal effects that morph into the melding of traditional and power metal that carry things the rest of the way. Glazner really stretches here vocally, bringing a powerful presence that borders on the operatic. The song, otherwise, entices with its double kick drum action and swarthy guitars that lend to the dramatic milieu. Lyric snippet:
Caught in a maze between belief and scorn
Wishing intently, that you’d never been born
Regret is rising
Darkness it descends
Past acts despising
But grace never ends
Where can you run can you hide
They’ve all gone now and only God knows why
The worship rock of “Let Your Reign Begin” falls a bit flat. Yes, the acoustic emphasis works fine as do the female vocals of Michele Laymon, but at just under six minutes the song is too long- at least when factoring in the style at hand. Another problem is the “formula” or “predictable” feel that often goes hand in hand with much worship rock, which more often than not all sounds the same (at least that has been my experience). Lyric snippet:
Oh Lord, I love You and You’re all I’ll ever need
You keep me each day and You strengthen me
I will always praise Your Holy name
Oh Lord, I want to serve You each and every day
So now I stand before You
Proclaiming that Jesus Reigns
Let Your love, rain on me
Let Your grace, rain on me
Let Your spirit, rain on me
Let Your reign, fall on me
“Praise To You”, the second worship track, takes the heavier approach. With Glazner returning on vocals, the song works, albeit not quite on the same level as the first five. Guitars certainly hit hard and the low end delivers plenty of punch, but it is the sublimely done chorus that puts things over the top. Some aggressiveness can be found as “Praise To You” descends into its instrumental moments at the end.
“Tell me” can also be described as good but not quite great. This one combines aspects of the acoustic, for its heartfelt verses, and electric, as can be found in its high energy chorus. Commercial hard rock with some AOR touches might be the best way to describe things.
A hidden bonus track, an acoustic version of “The Road Not Taken”, can be found at the end. No need to comment further expect either way it is a great song, although I wish the group had come up with an all original number along the lines of “Woe To You” and “No One Like You Left” instead.
Crucible Divine showcases a great deal of potential on Commitment. Songwriting at its best is fantastic and vocals and musicianship shines as well. The only misgivings come in the form of some songwriting inconsistencies and somewhat shaky (although not terrible) production. All things added up I see nothing less than a bright future for the group.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Woe To You” (4:19), “Won’t Let Go” (5:06), “The Road Not Taken” (5:17), “Commitment” (5:09), “No One Life You Left” (6:26), “Let Your Reign” (5:45), “Praise To You” (4:16), “Tell Me” (4:06), “The Road Not Taken” (bonus track) (5:17)
Clint Glazner - Lead Vocals
Raymond Christie - Guitars & Bass
Kevin Wale - Guitars & Bass
Brandon Lopez - Drums
Michele Laymon - Lead Vocals