Distributor/Label: Victory Records
Buy Album: https://www.victorymerch.com/merch/cds/44324/darkness-divided-written-in-blood-cd
Band Website: http://www.victoryrecords.com/darknessdivided
2. The Shepherd’s Hands
3. Well Run Dry
4. The Hands That Bled
5. The Descent
6. Eternal Thirst
7. Withering Kingdom
9. The Will of Man
11. Divine Mercy
Gerard Mora: vocals
Christopher Mora: guitar
Joseph Mora: bass
Israel Hernandez: drums
When metalcore emerged as a separate sub-genre back in the early noughties, it was seen as innovative and exciting by its supporters. Bands such as Killswitch Engage and Atreyu garnered huge fan bases and even bothered the Billboard charts on occasion. A decade or so later, the genre is absolutely bursting at the seams with new and established acts, with the inevitable subgenres abounding (mathcore, deathcore, and so on). It’s a heady melting pot, but is it still relevent today?
Christian metalcore quartet Darkness Divided have thrown their collective hats into the ring with their debut album ‘Written In Blood’. Since forming in San Antonio, Texas in 2010 the band have been hard at work honing their craft and their signature sound.
They released EP ‘Chronicles’ in 2012, from which two singles were extracted (‘Redeemer’ and ‘Voyager’), with accompanying videos. These gained the band attention in the metalcore scene and resulted in tours with peers such as Haste the Day and Underoath. ‘Written In Blood’, produced by Through Arteries frontman Cory Brunnemann, is the band’s first release on Victory Records.
The album begins innocuously enough with the solo guitar intro of ‘Severance’, to which strings and then drums are added. The brief vocal performance is pure metalcore screaming, which leads directly into Track two, ‘The Shepherd’s Hands’. Their sound immediately calls to mind Asking Alexandria, mixed with early Bring Me The Horizon; all blastbeats and breakdowns with the requisite scream/clean vocal mix. There are, however, some quite impressive metallic touches which lift this above the generic.
Listening to the album reveals a wealth of influences, from the aforementioned AA and BMTH to the likes of Motionless In White, The Defiled, Architects and While She Sleeps. These bands, whilst sounding nominally similar, are in fact quite different – and therein lies the problem. Several of the songs smack of ‘too many cooks’, resulting in a bit of an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ feel. The likes of ‘Well Run Dry’, ‘The Hands That Bleed’ and ‘The Descent’/’Eternal Thirst’ are just a bit too garbled and tangled, with several time changes, electronica mixed with deathcore, hardcore…well, you get the picture. It’s all a bit…untidy, at times.
The cream of the crop is left right until the end. Final track ‘Divine Mercy’ begins with a bone-rattling roar before launching into a breakneck-paced song with a wailing guitar throughout and an irresistibly catchy beat to boot. The vocals smooth out towards the end and build up to the conclusion: an a cappella rendition of the song’s message “have mercy on us, and our whole world”. It is, thankfully, an impressive finish.
Heavy metal long ago ceased being simply ‘metal’; these days there are more genres and subgenres than you can poke a stick at (or bang your head to). As the boundaries become less defined and bands straddle genres this can often lead to provocative and inventive developments. Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times, it can result in music that is simply a mish-mash of styles that sounds messy and schizophrenic. Darkness Divided are definitely a band ripe with promise – they are talented musicians, and vocalist Gerard Mova has a helluva roar on him! They just need to tighten their sound up a tad, blend their influences a little more seamlessly. The number of metalcore bands is growing exponentially; the pressure is on to stand out from the crowd and make an impact (and hopefully, a living). If Darkness Divided sort out the issues that crop up on this album (namely, the over-embellished nature of some of the songs) they stand a real chance of rising to the top of this almost overflowing pool.