This release has seen wildly differing reviews and now I will throw in my two cents worth. As you know this is a concept album based on the epic poem La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) by the 14tb Century poet and “heretic”, Dante Alighieri. The band also decided to throw in horn and string sections, giving a more epic and grandiose feeling to the music. Well, is it any good?
The answer, at least in my opinion, is yes. No, this is not “Arise Part II”, but then again it was never supposed to be. After four full length releases with Max they went the experimental path with albums like “Chaos AD” and “Roots” and now (after three full lengths and one EP) they again follow this path with Green. After just one listen it becomes very clear that the intensity level has been increased a lot, with more double-bass drumming and Thrash-y riffing (see “Convicted In Life” and “Crown And Miter”). With this newfound heaviness also comes a lot more focus and it is evident that this band has now fully settled into a groove with Green and their post-Cavalera style. After an ominous intro we get “Dark Wood Of Error” with its great drumming forceful riff sections and lots of intensity. This continues until the band slows things down with “City Of Dis” where we get some of hat old tribal feeling back, for better or worse. “False” is a great fast paced number with haunting horn sections near the end and solid riffs from Kisser. Then we get another more slow-paced track in “Ostia”, a track that features a very emotional instrumental break halfway through the song. “Nuclear Seven” features some very chunky riffs at the beginning, while “Crown And Miter” is a total throwback to the glory days of 80s Thrash/Crossover, with Green giving us his most aggressive and purposeful vocal work yet (he almost saturates the mix!) backed up by driving, crunchy riffing by Kisser. The last two tracks are more experimental and mellowed out, with the last song, “Still Flame”, being a rather tired fusion of Tribal/Industrial touches.
I know that my fellow reviewer (you know who you are:)) doesn’t agree with me but this is a very good album from a band that just had to give us a solid offering, it was that simple. This is a focused and interesting piece of work that gives the listener many heavy but also soulful moments of musical expression.
I do have some complaints though: I feel that many of the songs should’ve been a bit longer and more expansive (many of them just end abruptly and do not utilize the string/horn sections optimally and as a result some of these songs feel slightly underwhelming. And, as always, the bass could’ve been tuned higher!
I know many will continue to shit on this band simply because they don’t play “Morbid Visions”/”Beneath The Remains”-type material anymore and because Max isn’t fronting them anymore, but that is just sad. On here they sound more focused and comfortable than they ever have with Green behind the mic. Also, the fact that their musical direction is “different” shouldn’t be an issue anymore (many bands that have changed styles have given us some solid albums during the course of their experimental/transitional periods (see ENTOMBED’s “Morning Star”; QUEENSRYCHE’s “Promised Land”; HELLOWEEN’s “The Dark Ride” (all very underrated albums that were simply crucified by many “fans” simply because it was musically different from the respective bands’ early works). Take this album for what it is, not for what it’s not!!!
Now you just have to go out and hear for yourself whether this really is as good or as bad as some make it out to be. I personally tend to lean to the former.
Over and out. (Online June 23, 2006)