Sound — 8
After much anticipation, both from fans of Dino Cazares, and those who are just itching to slam his newest project, Divine Heresy's "Bleed The Fifth" is finally available to the public.
Viewed by many as Fear Factory 2, Divine Heresy shares many characteristics with Dino's work with the industrial metal pioneers, but it is not simply a carbon copy of FF. While both bands feature a down-tuned, rapid, and jagged guitar attack, Divine Heresy has a distinguishably more technical sound to it. The drums, while not very innovative, are excellent in their own right. Drummer Tim Yeung (who has earned his stripes playing in such noteworthy metal acts as Decrepit Birth, Vital Remains, and Hate Eternal) is as tight as he is heavy, and his drum work complements the sound perfectly. You won't find complicated poly-rhythms, abrupt tempo changes, or jazz fills (ffs, that's what Atheist is for) but you do hear the laser-precision drumming that those familiar with Yeung have come to expect.
Cazares exceeded my expectations in terms of guitar work with this album. His guitar parts, again while not innovative, are as heavy as he is, and will likely be pleasing to the ears of death metal fans everywhere. Playing his custom 7-string Ibanez Xiphos, he manages to crank out some pretty intense riffs, and also (and this is one of the big differences from his work with Fear Factory) rip out some solos. And the man can solo apparently, as heard in the otherwise run-of-the-mill "The Threat is Real". The band as a whole runs a tight show on Bleed the Fifth. Comparable to the musical chemistry of bands such as Decapitated and Suffocation, the band moves ahead perfectly in sync, navigating compositions that would make many metal musicians start to sweat. The production is stellar, and one gets a feeling of professionalism on every level by listening to this album.
Overall, the sound of the album is excellent. The only issue I would have with it is that it isn't very groundbreaking. What you get is a slightly faster and slightly more complex Fear Factory, plus some solos as an added bonus. For a debut album (especially one not preceded by any demos/EPs), Cazares and co. manage to pull off a tight set of well-written songs. That said, this band has plenty of potential that they seem to have ignored during the song-writing process, and in the future, could write far more "original" material.
Lyrics — 8
The vocalist is (and this is dangerous ground in this breed of metal), in my opinion, phenomenal. I say it is dangerous ground, because he branches away from the standard death growl in favor of noticeably more "hardcore" style scream. Many death metal fans are very elitist in the vocal department, and if anything sets people off about the album, it will be vocalist Tommy Cummings.
Cummings scream is best described as a combination of the best of both Phil Anselmo (Pantera), and Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory). However, what really sets him apart are his cleans. When you look at the album cover, and hear the music from the first second of the first song, you don't expect well-performed clean vocals, but upon listening to the songs through, that's exactly what you get. Possessing a better clean voice than a good 95% of the metal "screamers" who do cleans as well (hello there, metalcore), Cummings manages to mix up his vocal work very well, and both his clean and distorted vocals are acrobatic and intense, two words which can really make or break a review about an album in this style of music.
The lyrics, unfortunately, also remain in the same state of limbo as the drumming and guitar work, being well done, but neither original nor groundbreaking. Sure, they are appropriate for the genre, but covering such overdone topics as "religion", "hate", and "society", they comply with the music, but don't grab the attention of the listener the way many people like lyrics to. Thankfully, the skill of the vocalist makes up for the relatively weak lyrics.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, "Bleed The Fifth" is an excellent record, and earns its spot on the shelf of discerning death metal critics, but it is held back greatly by the fact that it is extremely run-of-the-mill. When I tell people I know about a new band I've heard, I love to be able to use the word "innovative" while describing them, and as much as I am wooed by the overall technical ability of Divine Heresy, I can't truthfully tell people that this band has anything new to offer, whether the person is my best friend or anyone reading this review.
I would recommend this album to anyone, but if it were stolen, I would buy Decapitated's "Nihility" or Suffocation's "Effigy Of The Forgotten". It is an impressive album to begin with, but lacks the unique qualities that would make me choose it over any of the other technical death metal albums currently available (and there are certainly plenty to choose from).