Originally written by Jordan Campbell
The hype machine that powered Divine Heresy‘s debut record is running on fumes right now. There are two possible reasons why the band isn’t generating the same buzz as they were two years ago.
First, the status of Fear Factory directly affects their stock. Surely, that’s got to be tough on the Divine ego, but it’s the truth. In the wake of the spotty Archetype and the pitiful Transgression, fans were clamoring to hear the long-dormant Dino Cazares rise to dominance with his new outfit.
Currently, however, Fear Factory‘s activity is working more like a shroud than a spotlight. Dino and Burton have rebuilt their bridge and enlisted half of Strapping Young Lad to replace the creatively-challenged Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera, using the latter duo’s exploits in rhythm section fingercuffs as justification for the reshuffling. (Burton’s insistence on airing this dirty-ass laundry is highly questionable–simply stating that Herrera and Wolbers’ output for Transgression and Arkaea has been total ass would be much more succinct.) Regardless of validity or pertinence, a battle for metallic trash tabloid supremacy has begun, and convoluted Fear Factory drama is dominating the “news” stream. As such, the debut of Divine Heresy‘s new vocalist is of diminishing interest to the general public.
So, that’s one theory. Meanwhile, the most plausible reason why no one is talking about Bringer of Plagues is far simpler: Bleed the Fifth was crushingly dull, and Bringer of Plagues, quite frankly, sucks.
The problem isn’t in regards to Dino’s style–that’s what we bought the ticket for, and if that’s your beef with this record, you shouldn’t be wasting your time with Divine Heresy to begin with. The main issues are Tim Yeung’s song-crippling delusions of grandeur and their new vocalist’s utter lack of panache.
This time around, Yeung’s fleet-footed brutality is pushed violently over the top, and the obnoxious mix pushes his pummeling beyond the boundaries of good taste. The overly percussive nature of Bringer of Plagues gives it a superficial, tacky feel, bitchslapping the already weak vocals and song structures into afterthought status. Dino’s quirks and flourishes are treated like garnish, with repetitive double bass/palm muting exercises comprising the main course. Nobody loves Tim Yeung more than Tim Yeung (swing by his MySpace page for proof), and the absurdly suffocating drumming on this record really hammers that point home.
Vocally, Travis Neal’s attack is basically the inverse of his predecessor’s. Whereas Tommy Vext’s tougher than thou bro-core pathos did more to annoy than intimidate, his soaring cleans gave legs to the better tracks on Bleed The Fifth. Neal’s throat-ripping Swedethrash snarl is more suited to Divine Heresy‘s gallop, but his cleans leave much to be desired. He singlehandedly castrates “Redefine” with his cut-and-paste yet out-of-place chorus melody. His cringe-inducing Aaron Lewis impersonation on the awful, awful ballad “Darkness Embedded” is nothing short of embarrassing, and the remainder of his performance ranges from forgettable to inexcusable.
The real reason why people have tuned in to Divine Heresy–Dino’s guitar work–has been severely marginalized. Tim Yeung’s feet (and possibly abs) have swallowed Dino’s fretboard. The most impressive moments on this disc (and they’re very few and far between) are those that hearken back to his signature Fear Factory machinegunning. And with a Fear Factory reunion on the horizon (boasting a far more tasteful drummer in Gene Hoglan), digging for nostalgic gems in this quagmire of modern radio rock masquerading as “extreme metal” seems asinine. It’s time for Dino and Tim to come to grips with the fact that they can’t sell an album by themselves, and they can’t strongarm a third-tier vocalist into relevance. Hiring a real, name-brand vocalist would be a good career move.
As would disbanding completely, therefore accepting Divine Heresy‘s existence as impotent and inconsequential.