Released: 2007, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Sometimes, a reputation carries with it enormous weight. Such is the case with former Fear Factory guitarist, Dino Cazares’ new band, Divine Heresy. Cazares helped keep metal alive and kicking in the nineties with Fear Factory’s highly-influential SOUL OF A NEW MACHINE, DEMANUFACTURE and OBSOLETE releases. His machine-gun, seven-string riffing became synonymous with the band’s sound and after his falling out with Fear Factory in 2002, little was heard from Cazares in terms of recorded output, so when Divine Heresy was first announced earlier in 2007—with Tim Yeung and newcomer Tommy Vext rounding out the lineup—the buzz quickly intensified. Little is known of Vext (AKA Tommy Cummings) but Yeung won the “World’s Fastest Drummer” award a few years ago and his work in Hate Eternal and Vital Remains proves that accreditation is not without merit, so what does the trio make of this new entity on its debut, BLEED THE FIFTH? Well, more than a passing resemblance to Fear Factory is present, albeit without all the electronics, and a healthy dose of modern-sounding clean/harsh vocal trade-offs will likely be met with mixed opinions but BLEED THE FIFTH is a scorcher of a record and a welcome return from one of the genre’s most respected axemen.
It would be foolish to totally distance himself from Fear Factory’s bludgeoning riffs and insane drumming but at the same time, Cazares is in a bit of a rock and a hard place because coming too close in sound would have been a bigger crime. Aligning himself with Tim Yeung is exceptional as the blastbeats and punishing drumwork is not far removed from that of Raymond Herrera and sounds really heavy here. Cazares, himself, actually drops a few solos on BLEED THE FIFTH, too, something that was never done during his tenure in Fear Factory and his trademark guitar sound is everywhere. Vext seems to be from the Philip Anselmo/Corey Taylor school of tough-guy vocals and he is totally interchangeable with every other thick-necked metalcore hack currently spewing venom. To his credit, though, he can also deliver a solid clean vocal when called upon. Problem is, it sounds a lot like Killswitch Engage’s Howard Jones, who people seem to have a love/hate relationship with. In general, Vext is the weakest link in the band, if only for the extremely generic nature of his vocals. Musically-speaking, though, Divine Heresy is spot on.
The title track is righteously heavy with Vext growling, roaring and shrieking like a man possessed. Yeung’s kick drums thunder like a Sherman-tank convoy and Cazares’ riffs are slamming like a jackhammer on turbo. Cazares’ shredded solo absolutely smokes, too, and it is a wonder why he never saw a place for doing them in Fear Factory’s music. “Royal Blood Heresy” is just as brutal with a majestic intro that is reminiscent of Nile and Vext absolutely slays on vocals. Yeung’s hyperblasting and marching tempo sets the pace for what is easily the standout track on the CD. Locking into a chunky groove that would not be out of place on a Machine Head or Pantera album (think “Goddamn Electric”), “This Threat Is Real” is a sure bet for the band’s live show. The Fear Factory-isms emerge on tracks like “Failed Creation,” “Impossible Is Nothing” and “Rise of The Scorned” as the clean vocal breaks and melodic choruses are bookended by rapid-fire drumming and Cazares’ lightning riff assault. Close your eyes and it is not hard to equate Vext’s vocal style to that of Burton C. Bell, either. The final song on BLEED THE FIFTH—“Closure”—is also the most troubling. It is almost as if a completely different band recorded this moping, Staind-like modern rock ballad and it is terribly out of place here. Diversity is one thing but “Closure” sticks out like a sore thumb.
BLEED THE FIFTH is a grower of an album, in that, the first listen or two does not yield much but after four or five spins, this sucker really starts to sink in. Yes, fans of Dino Cazares’ work in Fear Factory will have to open their minds a bit but there are still plenty of elements from that band present in Divine Heresy’s music. However, Cazares has done a fine job of creating a whole new entity that stands strongly on its own (plus, this finally washes the bad taste that was DIGIMORTAL out of everyone’s mouth). Having a drummer like Tim Yeung in the lineup certainly boosts its merit, as well. The songs are aggressive, memorable and, thankfully, devoid of any of the clichéd nonsense currently polluting the metal scene. Welcome back, Dino. It’s been far too long.
KILLER KUTS: “Bleed The Fifth,” “Failed Creation,” “This Threat Is Real,” “Rise of The Scorned,” “Royal Blood Heresy”