Divinefire - Eye Of The Storm
Rivel Records
Power Metal
13 songs (54'12")
Release year: 2011
Divinefire, Rivel Records
Reviewed by Erik

There are a select number of bands out there that get plenty of stick for wearing their religion, or beliefs, way out on their sleeve. Not quite in your face, but impossible to miss. It becomes a difficult conundrum to completely separate a band's music from its lyrics, as the message being conveyed is as much a part of the band as its individual musicians and the noises they produce. Thus it is with Divinefire, going into their seventh year as a band, after having formed as a side project of Narnia vocalist Christian Rivel and instrument guru Jani Stefanovic. Several albums resulted, most with positive feedback, and in 2011 they have released their latest, Eye Of The Storm.

Divinefire have reached what some may term "critical mass" at this point. I have to first commend their sound, which is a blazing assault of crunching treble-boosted distortion and thundering drums, at times wandering from power metal into heavy thrash territory. Regardless of specific genre, the operative word is heavy, and the energy is sustained all the way through the album. What the listener is left with at the end is the feeling that they were submerged in a pool of aggression, but unsure as to why. It becomes difficult to grasp at the point of an album when the tracks fail to stand out as a cohesive unit.

To be fair, the music heard here is light-years beyond anything from Narnia, and that's coming from a person who more or less likes that band's work. With the possible exceptions of Long Live The King, and Course Of A Generation, , the now-defunct Narnia churned out repetitive versions of mostly tame melodic, neo-classical Malmsteen worship. This, however, is a completely different animal, and the Finns pile on the riffs with authority. Stefanovic is credited with composing and performing the guitars and drums, with Nadreas Olsson on bass, and the rhythms and hooks they lay down are stunningly quick and heavy. There's that word again . . . heavy. Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?

In the same way that Majestic's lead vocalist Apollo Papathanasio never really found his sweet spot until he joined Firewind, so Christian hadn't hit his stride until he began Divinefire, and what a difference it made. His Halford Shrieks (I'm so trademarking that phrase!) and style of attack on certain lines are phenomenal, and his ability to add hooks and excellent melodies has only gotten better over time. Less impressive are the scattered black/death growls, intended as on other albums to portray Satan or other demonic forces. While I can appreciate variety as much as the next person, in this context the growling doesn't really seem to really fit, and is not performed with as much skill as a black/death metal fan would appreciate. On the other hand, German Pascual (also ex-Narnia) shares vocal duties with Christian, and since he pulled off such a refreshing performance on Narnia's final album, the overall expectation would be that of a mind-blowing platter of monster power metal fronted by two highly competent singers.

Fans of previous Divinefire offerings will find plenty to enjoy here. Following an ominous keyboard choral intro, the overtly-titled Time For Salvation, starts off a triplet of pedal-to-the-metal tracks with epic, tragedy theater-style keyboard work. This band seems to be especially adept at setting an upbeat mid-tempo approach and laying down blazing blast beats underneath, for admittedly a great-sounding effect. Things slow down for the next couple of tracks, picking back up at breakneck speed with the Nightwish-esque Even At My Lowest Point, and pure power metal Send Me Out, , easily one of the top picks on the album. This pace is kept for the remainder of the album, ending on the somber instrumental Close To The Fire, . The Japanese edition of Eye Of The Storm, features a Malmsteen cover called Forever One, , which is actually done very well.

In the end, however, this Storm ends up as more of a hard, steady rain rather than a real thunder-and-lightning powerhouse. The fault lies not with any particular musician or their energetic delivery, but rather with the after-effect of the listening experience. We end up coming full circle back to the intended message, and Eye Of The Storm, feels like one long song, rather than individual, explosive tracks that cohesively form a united effort. As an album, this seems to be a fairly solid entry that still somehow struggles to hold its head above water, rather than taking wing and soaring above the clouds. Divinefire may have a bold approach with their lyrical content and musical tone, but without more standout tracks, Eye Of The Storm, while enjoyable to listen to, simply gets lost in the wind.

Killing Songs :
All Except Bright Morning Star and To Love And Forgive
Erik quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Divinefire that we have reviewed:
Divinefire - Into A New Dimension reviewed by Crims and quoted 87 / 100
Divinefire - Glory Thy Name reviewed by Ian and quoted 76 / 100
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