As impressive as the debut album from Diviner was, the Realms of Time not only exceeds that on every level but also exceeds the high expectations built from that album. Fast, heavy riffs, blazing solos, strong, majestic vocals, a pounding rhythm section, and great songwriting make this one of the year’s best albums.
Back in 2011, friends Yiannais Papanikolaou and Thimios Krikos, who had been in Inner Wish back in 1998, got together to start making music and Diviner was born. Late in 2015, the band released their debut Fallen Empires after adding friends and local metal musicians George Maroulees , Herc Booze, and Fragiskos Samoilis. Fallen Empires was one of those albums that immediately impressed listeners, especially coming from a largely unknown group. Unfortunately, it took until 2019 to get the follow up album, but after a first listen it became apparent it was well worth the wait. Right before recording for Realms of Time was to begin, founding guitarist Thimios Krikos decided to leave the band due to commitment issues and Kostas Fitos was brought in. The album was produced and mixed by Fotis Bernardo (ex-Septic Flesh) and mastered by Henrik Udd (Powerwolf, Hammerfall, Myrath) with artwork by Jan Yrlund (Battle Beast, Apocalyptica, Korpiklaani) completing the package.
As I wrote for my review of Fallen Empires, “I will make this easy for those who don’t like to read long reviews. If you’re a metal fan, go pick this up! This is one of those albums that sounds great on first listen and really gets better with each successive listening experience.” Everything good about Fallen Empires has been expanded on and refined for Realms of Time. Much of the album follows a classic power metal formula but definitely leans toward the heavier, darker, more aggressive side. The songwriting has matured since Fallen Empires and the songs feature a good bit of variety with a lot of subtle touches throughout, like a fill here and there, changed up drum patterns and the like that keep the listener engaged.
From a performance perspective, one can’t help but rave about vocalist Yiannis Papanikolaou. On Fallen Empires there was a definite Ronnie James Dio influence present and Yiannis furthers that on Realms of Time. The strength, depth, and smoothness of the delivery is most impressive and some of the songs really take advantage of the Dio-like vocals. On “Heaven Falls” one can easily imagine RJD standing on the edge of the stage singing the same vocals in dramatic fashion. The way the band uses instrumental silence to showcase the vocals on songs like this and “Beyond the Border” and the strong chorus on “The Earth, The Moon, The Sun” work so well.
As if the vocals weren’t enough, the guitar duo of Kostas Fitos and George Maroulees work together incredibly well whether it’s trading riffs or solos or working in harmony. Power metal albums can sometimes run long with songs sounding familiar and consist of fast rhythms with a double bass backing but Diviner have built variety into the songs and while the double bass from Fragiskos Samoilis is definitely present, it is not the driving feature of the songs when its used. As to trying to describe the band’s sound, I’ll stick with my description from Fallen Empires, “I liken them to what might happen if you had Iron Maiden playing songs similar to the old Dio-era Rainbow days”.
The three videos the band has released do well to provide a great sampling of the album. In the video for “Heaven Falls”, which is also the song closest to having vocals reminiscent of Dio, Yiannis shows all the moves the classic frontmen in metal bands have had since the beginning and the lyric videos for “Beyond the Border” and “The Earth, The Moon, The Sun” show the variety in songwriting from the band as they vary a bit from the style and structure in the other songs. Continuing in the variety, the album closes out with “Stargate” and what sounds like might be a power ballad complete with acoustic guitar opening and Yiannis clean, smooth vocals. Drums come in to provide some background rhythms but then the song veers back to metal with the full band coming in complete with a guitar solo matching up with the vocals
Ever since Fallen Empires, I’ve been looking out for a follow up and now that it’s here, I am happy to say that Realms of Time has lived up to my rather high expectations. Diviner have matured as a band, the songs have more variety and structure than before, and they’ve managed to maintain everything from the incredible vocals to the great musicianship that made Fallen Empires a great debut. One of the best metal albums of the year, plain and simple.
Written by John Jackson
01. Against The Grain
02. Heaven Falls
03. Set Me Free
04. The Earth, The Moon, The Sun
05. Cast Down In Fire
06. Beyond The Border
07. King Of Masquerade
09. The Voice From Within
Yiannis Papanikolaou – vocals
Kostas Fitos – guitar
George Maroulees – guitar
Herc Booze – bass
Fragiskos Samoilis – drums
Release Date: June 7th. 2019
Record Label: Ulterium Records
“Fallen Empires” (2015) [review]
“Realms of Time” (2019)
“Realms of Time” [CD/LP/SHIRT] can be pre-ordered at the Ulterium Records Store
Lyric video for ‘Beyond the Border”:
Lyric video for ‘The Earth, The Moon, The Sun’
Video for ‘Heaven Falls’