Pale Divine - Painted Windows Black
Shadow Kingdom Records
Doom Metal
8 songs (67'40")
Release year: 2012
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

For a few years I have lost track of outstanding Pennsylvania doomsters Pale Divine, and even missed one of their full-length albums. Yet, thanks to the metal historian label Shadow Kingdom Records, the new release by Pale Divine Painted Windows Black is here resonating from my speakers. Time went by, but things have largely stayed the same with Pale Divine. The creative axis of Greg Diener (guitars/vox) and Darin McCloskey (drums) is spearheading the band, the lyrics remain to be evocative and the style of clean sung, heavy, riff-driven American doom has not been betrayed.

The fact that the riff will be pronounced king and rule on Painted Windows Black does not take long to realize. Pale Divine launch into mighty gallop with the gutsy opener Nocturne Dementia. Gutsy, because it is so unexpected, yet it sets the tone for the album outright. Greg Diener continues playing guitar like nobody’s business, and his tone is both muscular and fluid, throughout the album. Long instrumental sections are hallmarks on Painted Windows Black, so why not then begin with the statement, and the one the musicians themselves clearly enjoy. Instrumental sidesteps on the album never become missteps, all of them growing out of or growing into the songs quite organically. In that way Nocturne Dementia is a preface of what is to come. Like a good soccer coach conducting a practice, the band lays down a riff marker, and then keeps adding layers and twists to it, while something very complex remains to be quite beautiful, accessible and easy to follow.

All songs on Painted Windows Black are full of profound melodies, with hooks as obvious as they are powerful. The bass is thundering underneath, often with a warm tone (Shadow Soul) or providing opening intro (Angel of Mercy). The drums are rolling restlessly, in an ADHD jazzy mode. Diener’s vocals seem much improved to me. Instead of Danzig-like semi-goth voice he sings reserved, with a manly clean voice, without shrieks and stunts, but laying down those meaningful words that you always want to reach for the booklet to dig deeper into the significance of the lyrics. Connected by many of these common lines, at the same time cuts on Painted Windows Black have their own personalities. Songs are not rolling and blending into one another. The Prophet and Angel of Mercy culminate in the middle with a rare speedy pickup or vibrant lead. End of Days is superheavy and a bit stoned. The Desolate is no less heavy, but bottom-feeding, dragging, detuned and sometimes creepy. Shadow Soul (The Awakening) shifts between dreamy and jazzy to uglier nightmarish, with the listener guessing as to which side will prevail. Black Coven is dark, sinister and sacrificial, with the nod towards Merciful Fate in its hookiness and an awesome middle buildup. The closer title track is beyond words, monumental and grandiose, so epic in its clean doomy sense there is no note or word I find myself disagreeing with, a classic.

Pale Divine emerged on the scene cut out of the mold of Candlemass, Trouble and Pentagram, and still goes to that well, especially when I hear those 70s squawky wah-wah guitars (End of Days, Angel of Mercy). At the same time, Pale Divine is now fit to lead a legion of American, and not only, heavy clean doom bands that are populating the scene along with it (Apostle of Solitude, Argus, Griftegard, The Gates of Slumber, Count Raven, Hour of 13, Rituals of the Oak). With an album like Painted Windows Black they deserve it.

Killing Songs :
The Prophet, Angel of Mercy, Black Coven, Painterd Windows Black
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Pale Divine that we have reviewed:
Pale Divine - Cemetery Earth reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Pale Divine - Eternity Revealed reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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