|Musical Style: Symphonic Power Metal||Produced By: Divinefire|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden & Finland|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website: Divinefire|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 42:33|
Very rarely will a band have enough material put together that would allow it to release two high quality albums in the same year. However, such is the case with the symphonic power metal of Divinfire. A collaboration between Swedish vocalist Christian Rivel (Narnia) and Finnish multi-instrumental virtuoso and composer Jani Stefanovic (Renascent, Sins Of Omission), Divinefire combines elements of both the melodic and the extreme to create music that best can be described as epic, orchestral, bombastic and, to be quite frank, just plain fun to listen to. Releasing its debut Glory Thy Name in early 2005, the band followed up with a sophomore effort Hero later in the same year that, for the most part, moves in the same musical direction of its predecessor: An abundance of machine gun fire double bass and fast paced riffing stands in support of Rivel’s versatile vocal delivery, Stefanovic’s death metal growls and an assortment of guest appearances. Carl Johan Grimmark, Rivel’s band mate in Narnia, delivers his abundant skills on lead guitar on five tracks, while guitarists Patrick Gardberg and Plee appear on three others. Mikko Harkin (Wingdom) lends his talents on keyboards. Stefanovic rounds out the line up on drums and forms a prodigious rhythm section with bassist Andreas Olsson (also Narnia).
As with Glory Thy Name, production values are superlative in allowing for just the right amount of big budget-like polish to bring out the best in the bands performance and the top notch material here.
“Resurrection”, the albums shortest and slowest track, moves forward in an orchestral manner as Rivel sings lyrics taken from John 11:25. The bands trademark extreme vocals make their first appearance at the end of the song as Stefanovic twice growls “Welcome!”
“Secret Weapon” begins in typical Divinefire fashion to a super fast double bass driven riff backed by operatic vocal harmonies. Advancing through its first verse as Rivel duals with an extreme growling voice, the song evenly transitions to a high energy chorus giving rise to a faith based message:
I lift my voice to the sky
You’re my passion, my fire, my light
You are my shield
My secret weapon
Grimmark steps forward with several seconds of lead guitar work aligning itself with the songs frenetic pace and aura.
Introduced to a double bass driven riff enhanced by classical keyboards, “Divinefire” slows upon reaching its first verse as Rivel once again duals with more death metal-like growls. The bands signature track proceeds to gain impetus during its pre-chorus until it breaks out with a deluge of upbeat intensity for a chorus coming across in the form of a prayer:
Divinefire – Yeah, give me eyes to see
Divinefire – Gimme love for the broken ones
Divinefire – I will serve you night and day
Divienfire – My life belongs to you
Gardberg and Plee dual on lead guitar throughout a nice extended instrumental passage.
“Hero” opens its first verse at a slower more mid-tempo pace until Stefanovic’s double bass kicks in and increases the energy level exponentially, the momentum in question urging the song forward until it culminates for a sweeping chorus giving rise to a nice melodic feel. Gardsberg furnishes an excellent super fast paced guitar solo.
The pace slows a bit with “United As One”. A lengthy instrumental passage gets things going before the rhythm guitar drops from the mix as the song tapers off to a near crawl for its first verse. After the rhythm guitar returns with just the right amount of edge and aggression, it helps lead the way to a catchy chorus with a message about how we are all one in Christ:
Time to move on
Together we’re strong
We believe in the Son
Faith, hope and love
And His heavenly grace
We’re united as one
Yeah, the door is open
Grimmark is right on target with a very well done guitar solo that almost comes across bluesy in feel.
“Leaving The Shadows” gets underway to a drum solo followed by a scream from Rivel that would turn the head of Lance King (Pyramaze, Avian). Progressing through its first verse at a steady upbeat tempo, further momentum is gained by the song in a double bass driven fashion during its pre-chorus before it reaches a symphonic chorus shored up by a touch of vocal harmonies. A tastefully done lead guitar and keyboard trade off carries a minute long instrumental passage.
Opening to an orchestral based instrumental section, “Open Your Eyes” is accentuated by just the right amount of showy keyboards as it moves through its verse portions. Stefanovic’s hard hitting double bass takes over at the moment the song attains a chorus delivered with a plethora of the bands trademark energy. Another lead guitar and keyboard trade off helps put the song over the top.
“New Beginning” quickly jumps out of the gate as a trace of operatic vocal harmonies fades in and out of the mix. Taking on a more aggressive tone during its first verse, the song gains impetus prior to attaining a double bass driven chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Briefly slowing as the rhythm guitar drops from the mix, “New Beginning” abruptly picks up in pace to a death metal-like growl before Grimmkark lets loose with a brief but fiery solo.
The aptly titled instrumental “Cryptic Passages” commences to a lengthy keyboard solo prior to picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar kicks in. As the song moves forward, it gives rise to a dark and almost haunting atmosphere as both Gardberg and Harkin are allowed to display their abilities on lead guitar and keyboards respectively.
Hero closes with a very fine cover of the Queen classic “The Show Must Go On”. Divinefire does the original a great deal of justice as Rivel shares lead vocal duties with Maria Radsten (One More Time) and Thomas Vikstrom, a strong radio friendly chorus and a bountiful amount of Queen-like vocal harmonies helping to put the song over the top. The only complaint I have – and I understand this is a minor one – is that “The Show Must Go On” fails to reflect the classic Divinefire sound. For example, the bands fast paced riffing, rapid double bass and death metal growls all end up missing in action. I really hate to nit pick, but the song would probably sound more at home if it had instead been recorded for Rivel’s side project Audiovision. My advice? Just ignore the last several sentences here because, as a reviewer, I am doing what it is they pay me to do- to find minor things to complain about that, in the scheme of things, do not really matter.
If I were to invite a comparison – and, once again, as a reviewer this is what they pay me to do – I might rank Divinefire’s debut Glory Thy Name just slightly ahead of Hero. While all the material on Hero is very good and holds up under repeated play, the album lacks any of the “mega-huge” type numbers found on Glory Thy Name such as “Never Surrender” or “The Spirit”. Irregardless, the best suggestion I have to offer is to get them both!
Reviewed by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Resurrection” (1:54), “Secret Weapon” (4:34), “Divinefire” (4:29), “Hero” (3:44), “United As One” (4:55), “Leaving The Shadows” (4:44), “Open Your Eyes” (4:22), “New Beginning” (4:19), “Cryptic Passages” (5:18), “The Show Must Go On” (4:09)
Christian Rivel – Lead Vocals
Jani Stefanovic – Drums, Guitars, Growls, Keyboards & Programming
Andreas Olsson - Bass
Carl Johan Grimmark, Patrik Gardberg & Plee – Guitars
Mikko Harkin – Keyboards
Thomas Vikstrom – Lead Vocals
Maria Radsten – Lead Vocals
Also Reviewed: Divinefire - Glory Thy Name, Divinefire - Into A New Dimension, Divinefire - Farewell, Audiovision - The Calling, Essence Of Sorrow - Reflections Of The Obscure, Flagship - Maiden Voyage, Mehida - Blood & Water, Narnia –The Great Fall, Narnia - At Short Notice, Narnia - Enter The Gate, Narnia - Decade Of Confession, Wisdom Call – Wisdom Call