Diviner – “Fallen Empires”


Fallen Empires (Diviner)Ulterium Records has done it again and managed to find another great power metal band from Greece.  Fallen Empires, the debut album from Diviner is one you don’t want to miss is you like power metal with a European flair along the lines of bands like Black Fate, Empire 21,  ReinXeed, and Iron Savior.

Although it’s getting late in 2015 and Fallen Empires is the debut release from Diviner, the Greek band traces its origins back to 2011 when friends Yiannis Papanikolaou and Thimios Krikos decided to start creating music.  A short time into the writing project friends and local metal musicians George Maroulees , Herc Booze, and Fragiskos Samoilis joined the project and the lineup was complete.  The vision behind their sound is to create pure metal music that is powerful, intense, deep, heavy, dark and inspired , while at the same time incorporating a modern sound.  The band pulled in Peter In de Betou for mastering, which was a good choice given his background with the likes of Arch Enemy, Opeth, and Amon Amarth.

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.  With new bands, the question always asked is “Who do they sound like”.  Well, they sound like Diviner but I realize that’s not terribly helpful except that it tells you this is a band that can craft their own sound from the influences of the members.  To me, I liken them to what might happen if you had Iron Maiden playing songs similar to the old Dio-era Rainbow days.  Each song has that sense of majesty to it, but does have a modern metal feel and the vocals of Yiannis Papanikolaou are simply amazing, perfect for the songs.  Yiannis manages to channel the power and feel of Dio but retains his own distinct sound.  The cover image is literally perfect for describing the epic, timeless feel of the songs.

Listening to new bands is always a fun experience as often I go into the process completely blind, just hitting start so I get the first impression without any bias.  On Fallen Empires, the title track opens up the album and the beginning guitar riffs, sounding similar to the Metallica cover of Am I Evil had me thinking this might be a thrash album but then the main riff and groove came in and I was hooked as soon as the vocals started.  The overall song structure really does remind me of older Rainbow material but the guitars and drums are more akin to Iron Maiden as I mentioned earlier.  The skill in the musicianship is immediately obvious, from the great guitar riffs and solos to the complex drum fills with restraint being shown in terms of double bass use.  Production and mixing is literally perfect for the genre, the sounds are blended nicely and every instrument and vocals are distinct and clear within the mix.

Perhaps the only quibble I can literally find with the album is that four of the songs start out with a short pick slide before going into the main riff.  There, I said something negative.  So along those lines, both the opening title track and the second song “Kingdom Come” start out that way but you can easily see how short the similarities between the songs are as they diverge immediately.  Many of the songs on the album have been written with an approach similar to the epic storytelling found in many older metal bands and also characteristic of many Iron Maiden songs.  Along those lines, the band has the song “Evilizer” that hearkens back to the days when metal bands would pull out obscure terms or invent their own for songs.  Songs like “Evilizer” also showcase the band taking advantage of having the two guitarists as they can trade solos and solo in harmony, and in all cases on the album, the solos fit the songs and add to them and are not just an opportunity for the guitar players to show off their skills.

“Come into My Glory” is the first video from the band and interestingly they chose to make it a lyric video.  To me this somewhat unexpected as the vocals throughout the album are very clear, so while this approach makes great sense for a death/black metal band, I found this a less than obvious choice on the surface.  What I will say though is that the background imagery used that has darkness and fog surrounding a medieval castle and a hooded figure perfectly fits the overall tone and feel of the album.  Again keeping with the genre and what I believe their influences are, the band’s lyrics incorporate an interesting feel.  Combined with an authoritative delivery, the lyrics in this song and others provoke an image of the speaker shouting defiantly in the face of an enemy.

“Come into My Glory, to the edge of dawn, where the sun is standing high forever…Come into my glory, climb into my throne, to the realms of pride and the light of souls…”the coming of justice that lives inside our hearts, the night of salvation, the ending of damnation, no death any longer, no fear we’ll be stronger…”

Many of the songs on the album will feel familiar to metal fans as they incorporate elements that we’ve heard before, but the way they arranged and delivered makes them feel fresh. Heavy riffs abound in songs like “The Shadow and the Dark while other songs like “The Legend Goes On” starts out a bit different and actually throughout the song sounds more like Iron Maiden than others songs on the album.  The album closes with “Out in the Abyss” which might be their most ambitious track as it is the longest at near seven minutes and features a stronger background keyboard element that is absent or less prominent in other tracks.  Yiannis breaks from his usual vocal styles on occasion on this track as well, which adds to the interest level.  Midway through the track it goes in an entirely different direction as the speed picks up dramatically following a slower interlude.  Changes like these are sprinkled throughout the album and serve to keep the listener interested.

For a debut album, this is really pretty amazing.  On first listen this is one of the best albums of the year and each successive listen it seems to keep getting better.  If melodic metal with a somewhat dark tone and feel to it is something you like, this is one to pick up.

Rating: 9/10

Written by John Jackson

Track listing
01. Fallen Empires
02. Kingdom Come
03. Evilizer
04. Riders From The East
05. The Legend Goes On
06. Come Into My Glory
07. Seven Gates
08. The Shadow And The Dark
09. Sacred War
10. Out In The Abyss

Diviner is:
Yiannis Papanikolaou [Rock ‘n’ Roll Children, ex. Innerwish] – Vocals
Thimios Krikos [Innerwish] – Guitar
George Maroulees [4bitten] – Guitar
Herc Booze [SiXforNinE] – Bass
Fragiskos Samoilis [Innerwish] – Drums

Record Label: Ulterium Records, Nov. 2015

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter

“Fallen Empires” [CD/LP/SHIRT] can be pre-ordered at the Ulterium Records Store

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video below: ‘Come Into My Glory’

Video below: “Fallen Empires” (Album Teaser)



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