Darkness Divided – s/t


Darkness Divided_2016_AlbumDarkness Divided roar back with their second release on Victory Records, bringing a unique vision of metalcore to a depiction of life from the innocence of youth to disillusionment to reaffirmation.

Darkness Divided formed in 2010 as a four piece of the three Mora brothers, Gerard (vocals), Christopher (guitar), and Joseph (bass) with Israel Hernandez on drums. In 2013, the band released the Chronicles ep, which really highlighted their potential as a band and showed a good bit of maturity in songwriting, bringing some uniqueness to the metalcore genre. In 2014, for Written in Blood, the band expanded their overall sound by adding Sebastian Elizondo on guitar and vocals. The band, which hails from San Antonio, recorded the album at Alchemist Recording Studio in their hometown with Cory Brunnemann. Now with their self-titled album, the band has again endured some lineup changes, with Hayden Allen picking up drums and the departure of Christoper Mora on guitar. For this album the band enlisted Will Putney (Thy Art Is Murder, Sworn In, Body Count) for mastering and was happy that he was able to bring out the full sound they were looking for. The casual listener may not realize this but as Gerard Mora has said in the album press release,

“This new album itself is split up into three parts – innocence, contradiction, and reaffirmation. As I wrote the lyrics to this record, I had the image of a house built of the ideas that others have built for you. As you grow from innocence and leave your innocence, your walls of the home begin to collapse. After you’ve lived and gone through adversity, you find out what really is important in life. That’s when you reaffirm some of the things you’ve learned in your youth though they may have been contradictions you faced in your life previously. This album is about the thought process everyone should take to find truth in their lives. If we don’t question the things we believe, then we don’t really understand why we should believe in them.”

So this album is not only a great collection of songs but also a near concept album, where even the cover has abundant symbolism to reinforce this concept.

This can be a relatively short review for me or I could go on for quite some time as this literally restores my hope in metalcore. Pretty strong words, but keep in mind it’s a genre I generally avoid as it seems to have degenerated into songs fitting a formula. Of course, since I don’t listen to much of it, I realize I may be missing some other good releases out there. For those equally skeptical about metalcore, I would suggest listening to “Deceiver” to start. That fast opening riff shows how the band can blend some more traditional metal into their sound and reminds me a bit of As I Lay Dying in their prime. Fast guitars, hard-hitting drums and biting lyrics addressing how many are driven from the church by believers. I especially like the seamless transition from the clean chorus to the verse that works so well. Gerard Mora’s vocals convey a rough feel to the songs, which really contrasts well with the clean choruses that are simply outstanding on this album and have that ability to stick with the listener long after the song is done.

Oddly enough the album opens up with “The Point of No Return” which sounds a bit exactly like what one would expect from a metalcore album. On closer listen though there are some small elements here and there, like some great guitar fills and the fast, melodic metal sections that bring the song to a good place. The clean choruses mentioned earlier come into play here as well and there is also the first of many blistering guitar solos, something I really appreciated as they all have a more traditional metal feel and character to them and fit within the songs. Those familiar with metalcore will recognize the song elements typical for the genre but throughout the album they are not the focal points of the songs but features of the songs.

“Back Breaker” starts the album veering away from the expected metalcore sound with its heavy fast pounding drum rhythm and almost hardcore-like shouted vocals, not to mention one of the best guitar solos on the album. “A Life that Binds” brings to an end the first part of the album where things get a bit darker in tone and feel as the speaker in the song becomes disillusioned and comes to feel that they are alone in the world. This is where the album as a concept works really well as the slower, moody “Wake of the End” has our speaker almost yearning for the peace of death, “Where will I go? There’s no hope at all and I am numb to breathing…Conflicted by what I see, everything I live for is failing to produce growth…” In the end, with the vocals transitioning to a scream, driving home the feeling of anger and hopelessness.

To me “Misery” which was the first video off the album, is perhaps the only other song on the album that is instantly recognizable as metalcore, but that clean chorus with the variety of vocal inflections really is catchy and the intricate guitar riffs and guitar lines make the song.

“From Dust to Stone” is where the album goes from the point of contradiction to one of reaffirmation as the speaker begins to realize and accept that not everything in life is understandable and is ok with that and also sees an underlying power behind things. Interestingly, I get a Megadeth-like vibe in the intro of the song, which was unexpected but cool to hear and then the shouted vocal delivery in the verse sections almost reminds me of something in the style of Hatebreed.

“The Answer” and “Deliverance” continue with the fast, melodic metal and then things slow dramatically for “Mirror of Death” which is the second slower, moody, piece on the album, but in contrast to “Wake of the End”, which ends in anger and disillusionment, there is an air of light throughout the otherwise somber tones in the song, which carries through into “The End of it All”, a fitting close to the album.

Darkness Divided have compiled a great collection of songs that work well on their own and perhaps even more strongly when taken as a whole. The standout guitar work and vocals and solid rhythm section really bring life to the songs and the incorporation of faster, melodic metal throughout the album will be sure to land it on many top lists at the end of the year.

Written by John Jackson

Rating: 9/10

1. The Point of No Return
2. Back Breaker
3. A Life that Binds
4. Wake of the End
5. Misery
6. Deceiver
7. From Dust to Stone
8. The Answer
9. Deliverance
10. Mirror of Death
11. The End of It All

Band Members:
Gerard Mora – Vocals
Sebastian Elizondo – Guitar/Vocals
Joseph Mora – Bass
Hayden Allen – Drums

Record Label: Victory Records, April 2016

Weblinks: Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘Back Breaker’

Audio clip for ‘Deceiver’

Video for ‘Misery’


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