|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Greece|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
Classic heavy metal nuances and melodies. Soaring lead vocals of a robust kind. And just plain powerful, crushing riffs in an overall up to date framework. These are just a few of the hallmark characteristics that identify Athens, Greece based Diviner and its Ulterium Records fall of 2015 (November 20 release) full-length debut Fallen Empires. The Diviner origin traces to the new material that arose out of a summer of 2011 partnership between former Innerwish vocalist Yiannis Papanikolaou and current Innerwish guitarist Thimios Krikos. With bassist Herc Booze (Six For Nine) and guitarist George Maroulees and drummer Fragiskos Samoilis (both Innerwish) later rounding out its line up, Diviner took the first steps towards its goal of creating metal that is “powerful, intense, deep, heavy, dark and inspired and that would sound up to date at the same time” (as taken from the groups press material).
Whereas Innerwish strains for a European melodic power metal sound - “(excelling) at mixing elements of the epic and symphonic while showcasing the occasional progressive moment” as taken from the 85% Angelic Warlord review of the third Innerwish full length No Turning Back from 2010 - Diviner approaches things from a heavier and more muscular traditional metal standpoint. Consider how the Diviner press material also lists (correctly I might add) Accept, Judas Priest and Iced Earth as points of reference, noting how we believe that eighties metal legends Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Dio deserve every bit as much consideration.
That Dio comparison comes into play from front man Papanikolaou, who brings a similar full bodied and effortless low tenor voice capable of a delicate melody or more aggressive snarling growl. Contemporaries such as Leandro Cacoilo (ex. Eterna) or Dale Anthony (Zaxas) deserve mention from exhibiting a somewhat similar style, keeping in mind Papanikolaou highlights a bit more raspy and gritty edge to his delivery. Albums title track allows him to reveal the full range to his voice, as he reaches down for some lower register backbone (such as on the barbed verses) but also flawlessly smoothes things out (as he does on the keenly honed refrain). In between, “Fallen Empires” settles into a driving mid-paced groove in which the understated Diviner heaviness stands out unequivocal.
Further playing up said heaviness is “Riders From The East”, technical in form with its substantial epic elements but also conceding a more contentious side that strains for the foreboding. Light Middle Eastern vestiges highlight the start of a lengthy instrumental section shouldered by tightly woven guitar harmonies. The aggression carries over onto “Sacred War”. This one starts slow and calm before taking off with a tempestuous fury, bottom heavy from its keyed up rhythm section (Samoilis particularly stands with his assertive drum work) but furious in terms of the convulsing rhythm guitar bent. These two leave little doubt as to the Diviner traditional metal roots.
Also forthright but in a more accessible package is “Kingdom Come”, richly textured in terms of its darker and more swarthy overtures but also playing up a lighter side as flattering keyboards interweave with the catchy chorus, and “Evilizer’, faster paced as excited riff action takes a front to back stance and chorus exudes a similar level of engrossing proclivities. Papanikolaou particularly reaches down low on the two. “Come Into My Glory” divulges a similar upright tempo in aligning some of the catchiest riff action you will hear with nothing less a stately if not glorious ambience. The guitar solo matches the heated setting at hand.
A near perfect joining of the technical and engaging characterizes “Seven Gates” and “The Shadow And The Dark”. Former powers through its verses with full on momentum as it manuevers towards a beguiling chorus in which eerie keyboards hold sway. I can see Sacred Warrior doing something like this. Latter highlights an incessant tempo with its no-nonsense make-up as massive guitar walls and heavy-set backing vocals establish a simmering foundation. No other track better exemplifies how the trademark Diviner Dio tinged vocals and traditional metal guitars prove the perfect fit.
Diviner is also not afraid to step outside the box, as it does on “The Legend Goes On”, a happy-feel-good-medieval-tinctured power metal track in which that noted ‘up to date framework’ comes into play. Musically, the song is not bad (I might describe it as good but notch below the albums better material) with its invigorating momentum and slight Maiden-esque flair, but ultimately loses me with its overdone chanted ‘Ooh-Aah” backing vocals. Tone them down a bit (or remove them altogether) and I might be more inclined to buy in.
The seven minute progressive based “Out In The Abyss” does the better job capturing a more current sound. This one gives Diviner opportunity to showcase its adept musicianship with a pair of instrumental excursion, with the first sledgehammer rhythm guitar driven heavy and second hoisted by enticing lead guitar. The song otherwise sets an epic tone, as a near perfect joining of symphonic keyboards and abstruse guitars stand alongside an understated melody that allows it to stand up to repeat play despite its length.
Production offers good separation of individual instrumentation, with keyboards, rhythm and guitar leads and vocals properly aligned. The resulting feel is metal on the crisp and raw side of things but not to the point of thin or overtly polished; the way it should be. Cover art, at the same time, reflects the darker nature to the material at hand.
I like to think of Diviner as a spiritually based band, at least in light of song titles such as “Kingdom Come”, “Riders From The East”, “Come Into My Glory” and “Sacred War”. “Come Into My Glory”, in which the group recorded a lyric video, stands in support of this:
The night of salvation
The ending of damnation
No death any longer
No fear, we’ll be stronger
They will come as a rolling thunder
From the land of grace and destiny
They will come as a bolt of lightning
To your soul will bring eternity
We’ll rise to hear the voice of our dreams
Come into my glory…
More details once the hard copy version is available with lyrics and packaging.
On Fallen Empires, Diviner stays true to the past and present in that I can see fans of the aforementioned eighties metal legends embracing what the group brings to the table, as should those into the more current power/progressive metal scenes. I find the Diviner robust heaviness to be infectious, and even more so from how it imbues its material with the near perfect coalescence of melody and technical leanings. Add the Queensryche meets Sacred Warrior crowd to the list of those in which Diviner should appeal to their tastes accordingly. The albums better material is fantastic, a lone skip button aside, and leaves the listener anticipating even better things from Diviner in the future- my hope being that they are not a one shot project but rather a full time band moving forward.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Fallen Empires” (4:29), “Kingdom Come” (4:49), “Evilizer” (4:49), “Riders From The East” (6:09), “The Legend Goes On” (4:40), “Come Into My Glory” (4:47), “Seven Gates” (5:03), “The Shadow And The Dark” (4:27), “Sacred War” (4:56), “Out In The Abyss” (6:58)
Yiannis Papanikolaou - Lead Vocals
Thimios Krikos - Guitar
George Maroulees - Guitar
Herc Booze - Bass
Fragiskos Samoilis - Drums