Divinity – The Immortalist

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Reviewed: June 2017
Released: 2017, Self-released
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

The third album from Calgary-based progressive/melodic death metallers Divinity is actually a compilation that pulls together the three The Immortalist EPs – Awestruck, Momentum and Conqueror – the band self-released, with some crowd-funding help, over the last four years into a single epic full-length. The full album also is being self-released – and at the same time as the third EP, Conqueror.

But Divinity are nothing if not ambitious. For its single-album form, the band had the trilogy remixed, remastered and the song sequence reconfigured to make for a more massive and, ostensibly, cohesive, presentation.

On the massive side, the band definitely succeeded, thanks to the studio finessing of Cryptopsy guitarist Chris Donaldson, who gives the sprawling, technically challenging music here plenty of clarity and crunch. The Immortalist sounds great, be it on more aggressive tracks like the opener “Manhunt” and “Hallowed Earth” or the more melodically inclined “Atlas,” “D.M.T.” – which features guest vocals from Soilwork frontman Bjorn “Speed” Strid – and, oddly enough, the very Soilworky “Lucid Creator.” It’s big, bold and powerful top to bottom.

From a cohesive standpoint, though, it’s hit or miss. The resequencing isn’t really an issue, as it allows the band to get the somewhat random peaks and valleys of the EPs into a more logical, or at least effective, order even if – at nearly 70 minutes – the full album is rather exhausting when taken all at once. Instead, it’s the band’s progressive inclinations combined with their insistence on employing two vocalists that can make things a bit messy here.

Technical melodic death metal is a tricky enough proposition on its own. Throw tag-team vocals into the mix – in this case from Sean Jenkins and Jeff Waite, who snarl, scream, growl, shout and yowl with abandon – and it can be pretty tough to absorb.

Indeed, I find the dueling vocals both distracting and largely unnecessary. It feels like being in the middle of a shouting match. The narrative thread would almost certainly be easier to follow with one voice – even, perhaps, if it was doing all the gymnastics that are going on here. The constant back and forth is intrusive and makes things seem even more jumbled than they sometimes already are.
Still, hats off to Divinity for seeing The Immortalist through to the end, as this was obviously a labor of love that involved a lot of work that went well beyond writing and recording. The band had the big picture in mind here, and ultimately made it happen. The end product is impressive in its scale, scope and aspiration, even if the execution doesn’t always hit the mark.


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Track Listing:
1. Manhunt
2. Atlas
3. Hallowed Earth
4. DMT
5. PsyWar
6. Distorted Mesh
7. The Dead Speak From Behind
8. Lucid Creator
9. The Reckoning
10. All Seeing Eyes
11. Momentum
12. Conqueror

Lineup:
Sean Jenkins – vocals
Jeff Waite – vocals
James Duncan – guitars
Keith Branston – bass
Brett Duncan – drums

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