REVIEW: DIVIDED MULTITUDE – “Divided Multitude”
I know this isn’t exactly news to anyone that knows me, but I am not a huge fan of progressive metal. It’s never been because the bands aren’t talented. Honestly, I feel as if the world of prog metal is full of pretentious bands, (and even more pretentious fans) and that has always been somewhat of a turn-off for me (when the term “prog-snob” is viewed as a title to be proud of, I cringe). That being said, there are a handful of prog bands that have snagged my attention over the years due to humble attitudes, while remaining endlessly talented, writing fabulous melodies and harmonies, and staying true to a hard-hitting, heavy metal drive. One of these bands is Norway’s progressive metal veterans, Divided Multitude. December 2015 marks not only the release of the band’s fifth full-length album*, the self-titled release ‘Divided Multitude’, but also an astonishing twenty years together as a band.
This new record, helped by a post-production crowdfunding campaign full of perks ranging from music and flags to guitar and bass picks, features a more aggressive approach from the band, as well as fantastic guest vocal appearances from Brian Ashland (Shadow Gallery, Eden) and Terje Harøy (Pyramaze, Crossnail). However, to just get it out of the way quickly, the song “Immortal” kicking off the album is honestly the only track I am not all that fond of. “Immortal” is a very aggressive, metal-core type track, featuring harsh vocals and clean singing. In my opinion, this song doesn’t do the band much justice aside from pretty solid drumming from Anders Vinje (also known from live performances with Triosphere) and some shining guitar riffs here and there from Harøy. Instrumentally, it is a sound song, but only shines when the vocals aren’t featured. Vocalist Sindre Antonsen has a very unique, sharp edge to his voice, and I absolutely love it… except here. This does him no justice, and is not a good way to introduce possible new listeners to what the band is all about.
Now, I’d like to redirect this review to a more positive light. The rest of the album is a solid progressive release, and a few steps up from anything the band has released previously. If you haven’t heard of Divided Multitude yet, this release will surely change that. One of my favorite tracks on the release, “Closure”, begins with a killer guitar riff and shifts into a mellow vocal driven verse, which leads in to the Divided Multitude I was hoping to hear, in an explosive, heavily layered chorus. Notably strong keyboard work from Eskild Kløften is present in every song, adding an element of strength to an otherwise one-sided guitar presence. Although, this track in particular has some great depth provided by the keys as it breaks down into a Sci-fi-esque instrumental, then repeats to that massive chorus.
Some strong and driving bass lines provided by Rayner Harøy can be heard assisting the start of “Sacrificed”. My only complaint regarding the bass is that it is not present enough in the mixing, especially for a progressive metal band with only a single guitar; that end of the rhythm needs to be heard. However, this is another hard-hitting song that gives the band a more aggressive sound that really works with the vocals, especially when layered with such beautiful harmonies. “Proud” is the first ballad the band has written in a long time, featuring guest vocalist Brian Ashland, as previously mentioned. I am always a sucker for ballads, and this is no exception thanks to an impressive vocal performance, powerful lyrics, and beautifully haunting keyboards. Guest vocalist Terje Harøy is featured on the next track “Demise”, which is a perfect blend of power metal and progressive metal, possibly coming from his tenure with Danish power metal band Pyramaze.
Bringing the album to its conclusion, “Seal of Faith”, is a unique song, but not only in the way it sounds on the surface. This track features four of the five members of Divided Multitude on vocals, and while I cannot think of many bands that could pull this off, this song is perfect on every level. If it were possible at all, I’d like to write a letter to the band asking them to do this again, and do this a lot, because the magic that they have created between the four of them absolutely works. It’s nearly ten minutes of slower-tempo progressive metal, with great features for not only the vocal work, but each instrument as well, and I can’t get enough of it.
All in all, this is the first Divided Multitude album to really win me over. Although the band has been around for twenty years, they haven’t broken into the mainstream progressive metal “Household Names” category, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. I will be suggesting this to all of my “prog-snob” friends to check out. However, there is enough heavy and power metal influence going on here that the listener doesn’t need to be fully educated in the “progressive metal ways” to love it. It is an enjoyable listen all around, and I couldn’t think of a better way for this band to celebrate their twenty years together.
I had a fantastic time seeing this band live in 2014 at ProgPower USA, and chatting with Eskild and Sindre throughout the festival; I cannot wait to see them live again! If you have the opportunity to see these guys on any of their upcoming European festival dates (and there may be a tour in the works) don’t miss it! You can read more about the band and the album in our interview with Eskild Kloften here.