Pale Divine - Cemetery Earth
Shadow Kingdom Records
Doom Metal
Disc 1: 10 songs (61' 10") Disc 2: 8 songs (58' 11")
Release year: 2007
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

There's no doubt in my mind that Pennsylvania's Pale Divine is in the top tier of modern doom bands today, and those who were introduced to them by their 2012 album have another chance to check out their older work, as Shadow Kingdom has just re-released this one: Cemetery Earth. Older and less developed than Painted Windows Black, it is still an outstanding piece that deserves listening.

Most of the ingredients of the Pale Divine sound are fully in evidence on this one; influenced by bluesy and psychedelic traditional doom acts (though never sounding "retro"), this is a riff-driven band and it shows. Opening with a crunchily distorted riff, each note grips one's ears urgently, and then Greg Diener's wah-wah pedal kicks in, slicing its way with little resistance around the main melody. Fire and Ice is faster and chuggingly regular, reminiscent of some of Pentagram's songs, while Broken Wings, a brisk but doom-filled march, unleashes another devastating wah-wah solo on the listener with a lot of length, but without leaving the impression of self-indulgence, mostly because the dominance of the rhythm riffs used are supported by the solos, not the other way around. John Gafney of Sinister Realm was the bassist for this album, and the rumbling sullenness of his playing supports the monster riffs of Cemetery Earth smoothly.

Diener's vocals are worthy of mention as well. They are deep with a rough edge to them; approachable, but still providing an atmosphere of solemnity and grimness to go with the lyrics. That being said, this is not a sorrowful-sounding band regardless of the darkness of the lyrics. Some doom vocalists can fill any song with despair and sorrow regardless of the content; Diener, instead, has a faint air of relish in his pronouncement of the lyrics that suggests that, no matter how impossibly bad the situation described, at least we're enjoying the crushing sound of doom metal. (I Alone) The Traveller, with its message of a foreordained and hopeless fate, and the title track, are the longest two tracks on the album and certainly have a draggingly slow speed, but for all that, so much is going on inside them, and of such an interesting nature, that the listener can't but stay hooked. The piano/acoustic guitar interlude following this pair sounds rather weird for such an electic-driven band, but as soon as the guitar/bass takes up the acoustic melody in The Seventh Circle, it all becomes clear. The songwriting makes the progressions used seem so natural that it is difficult to tell how much of this was carefully planned and how much was the result of off-the-cuff jamming.

The final track, The Conqueror Worm, starts with spacey, clean wah-wah and quiet, almost murmured vocals, but moves to their trademark distorted guitar quickly, spinning out complex riffs one after another like a low-pitched pre-solo right before the whining jabber of the solo itself pops up. But the album isn't quite over yet. The version I've got, the re-release, has a second CD containing demos and live tracks, as well as a live track of them covering Marmalade's I've Been Around Too Long, a very metal-sounding recording even in its original version, but much more so with Pale Divine taking their hand at it.

Though in my opinion Painted Windows Black has surpassed this one, that speaks more to the increasing prowess of Pale Divine than to any weaknesses on this release. Cemetery Earth is an album that no traditional doom fan will regret picking up.

Killing Songs :
Fire and Ice, Broken Wings, (I Alone) The Traveller, The Conqueror Worm
Andy quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Pale Divine that we have reviewed:
Pale Divine - Painted Windows Black reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Pale Divine - Eternity Revealed reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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