Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Review: Divine Lust - Harvest 2004 (2004)

Divine Lust [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Harvest 2004

It was slightly over a year ago that I had the good fortune to review the self-titled album from the Portugese Gothic metal band Divine Lust (read the review here). I wrote of a band full of potential who had a firm grasp on creating complex and emotional songs, but suffered from sub-par do-it-yourself production and a vocalist who had yet to find his comfort zone. Two years after the release of that album, Divine Lust has put together a 4-song demo that is being distributed solely to "industry" types in the hopes of attracting a contract.

Harvest 2004 is, in a nutshell, a vast improvement over the band's debut album. The production is commendable, bringing forth each element of the band's style to create a full-bodied experience that enshrouds the listener in melancholy while seducing with catchy melodies. Frontman Filipe Gonçalves has really worked on his vocal skills, delivering a performance far exceeding that on the debut. He still plies several vocal styles, ranging from a clean voice with vampiric accents to blackish shrieks, but does so very dexterously and to great effect. Not once did I find myself questioning his ability or his comfort. Another change the band has undertaken is to include a full-time keyboardist in the person of Antonio Capote. The keys are less prominent than on the previous album, but they are ever-present and fill the songs with a darkly lush atmosphere.

On their debut album, I found Divine Lust to be conspicuously exercising their Katatonia, My Dying Bride, and to a lesser degree Type O Negative influences. Such influences, particularly those of Type O Negative, can still be found on Harvest 2004 but the band has taken them and crafted songs that are identifiably their own. "Hunting", the leadoff track, is a perfect example of their writing skills at work. Filipe sings primarily in his "Vampire" style, but executes the choruses with layered rasps. Jorge Fonte's bass is very high in the mix, giving a distinctive performance and adding just a hint of funk. Overall the song is mid-paced, but transcends several time changes and rhythm patterns to keep from settling into a predictable pattern. Type O does this almost as a signature style, and Divine Lust adopts a similarly diverse approach to songwriting. The following two tracks, "Devilish Deliverance" and "Duskful of Bliss, Morningful of Misery", are firmly entrenched in this method. Filipe leverages every one of his vocal styles as the mood ranges from sorrow to almost hateful aggression. Both songs are fine examples of the Gothic doom style, punctuated by piano interludes, crunchy riffs (I love the opening riff to "Duskful of Bliss...") and complex drum patterns.

To wrap up the album, Divine Lust chose to cover Duran Duran's "Save A Prayer". Being one of my favorite Duran Duran songs, I had very high expectations as to how the band would execute. I was literally blown away by their version. Remaining true to the original, the band has indeed managed to make it their own. Antonio captures the mournful keyboard passages flawlessly, but Filipe overpowered me with his voice and guitar. Adopting a style that I'd not yet heard from him, Filipe sings in pretty much a "normal" voice that actually manages to show how talented he really is. The emotion he exhibits is real and tangible, as it is elsewhere on the album, but seems slightly more palpable on this track. His extended solo during the latter stages of the song conveys quite a feeling of hopeful longing - hard to describe but easily "felt".

Divine Lust has crafted three excellent songs (and one outstanding cover version) which I think showcases their talent and ability perfectly. If I could, I would offer them a contract immediately. It would be a mystery should they remain unsigned for much longer.

Track Listing
1 Hunting 3:59
2 Devilish Deliverance 6:37
3 Duskful of Bliss, Morningful of Misery 9:38
4 Save A Prayer 4:08

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Saturday, January 1, 2005

Review: Lost In Blue - Remain in this Dream (2004)

Lost In Blue [ Website | MySpace ]
Remain in this Dream

Originating from a suburb northwest of Chicago, Lost In Blue have released three demos in their short time together. As with the previous two, Remain in this Dream is comprised wholly of instrumental metal. It's true, nary a voice to be heard among the four tracks of this MCD. The absence of voice marks Lost In Blue's greatest obstacle, though the four musicians offer fine compensation through their well-executed instrumentation.

As an example, "V-Show Song" kicks off Remain in this Dream with outstanding guitar solos and leads that express a varied range of emotion, from sorrow to hope. Carrying the song from one emotion to the next, the intricate bass lines of Ryan and the skillfull drumwork of Zach dance just below the guitars in a truly mesmerizing display of talent. The band members make it a point to offer a variegated blend of influences in their music, to which they do a fine job. While progressive influences are conspicuous on the first two tracks, I find these two to be the most metallic on Remain in this Dream. "Lonely Blue" definitely has the biggest bite, with Maiden-inspired soloing and a traditionally styled theme riff. Insert a Matt Barlow or even a Rob Halford here and this track becomes unforgettable.

The remaining two tracks offer a contrast to the two mentioned above, introducing a more progressive (and introspective) side of the band. The guitars continue to do the talking, with both Adam and Keith offering up quite an emotional display of fretwork. Perhaps delving a little too deeply into the progressive cauldron, "Dead Moon Rises" spans a tedious ten minutes and at times feels as if it could have been separated into two tracks. Though the listener is exposed to some very interesting passages, the sum of the parts makes for a tough journey. The song does, however, serve to concatenate Lost In Blue's many influences.

This band can and does stand apart from the pack of up-and-coming metal outfits. Their musical talent is unquestionable as is their ability to mingle many styles together in an interesting, and thoughtful, mixture. However, I'm not particularly fond of instrumental metal and in this I am not alone. The band is tight, but to leap to the next level a quality singer is required. The band understands this, as they are currently seeking a talented individual to fill the position. Until then, Lost In Blue still deserves an inspection from those metal fans seeking something interesting and, more importantly, something good!

Track Listing
1 V-Show Song 3:25
2 Lonely Blue 4:56
3 Remain in this Dream 5:15
4 Dead Moon Rises 10:43

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