Sound — 5
Shadows Entwined is something as unusual as a power metal band from Los Angeles, California. The core of their sound comes from European power metal bands, like Helloween and Blind Guardian, but plenty of other styles add colour to the canvas, such as death, progressive and symphonic metal. Divine Darkness is through and through a DIY product, and it's easy to appreciate the perseverance of these guys who live in a region hardly known for it's appreciation of power metal. The production could definitely be better, that's for sure. The guitars are a bit dry and the drums haven't got that punch and clarity one expects from modern metal productions. Essentially, it sounds like a good demo, but considering that the guys have no label backing them, one can be a bit forgiving when it comes to the production.
Lyrics — 6
Vocalist Tim Anderson delivers a pretty darn good performance. He certainly has control over his pipes and belts out high notes with clarity and forte, which really is key considering the genre. The only problem is, as with many new vocalists, that he sounds like someone else. Or in Anderson's case, several other people. Despite that, Anderson is a fine vocalist who can certainly carry a band and doesn't sound like a guy that'll let the band down with weak performances. I would like to hear him using a more varied range, in order to get a better understanding of how versatile and dynamic he is, as nigh all of the singing is in the high-but-not-extremely-high range. It'd been nice to hear more mellow, emotional passages mixed with the present style, but I suppose you can't do it all on your debut album. Lyrically, I will have to say that things are fairly stock. To a certain extent, one can get a pretty good understanding of the topics just by reading the song titles. Several of the songs deal with the topic of fighting your way through life in a society that's falling apart and plunging into darkness. It's not Shakespeare, but nor is it Dungeons & Dragons.
Overall Impression — 7
Divine Darkness is, as many debuts, not without its flaws. Some of the compositions and passages sound a bit hamfisted, and really that is where the producer should've stepped in and said this doesn't work, it disrupts the flow you've built up. I get a feeling that the band wants to border on the progressive and throw those nice curve-balls at the listener, but they don't always pull it off. However, they've got a good idea on how to use tempos and dynamics to help the song stay fresh despite being 6-8 minutes long. Guitarists Martinez and Coello deliver several great melodies, often in unison, and there're certainly a good bunch of solos on the album. I don't know who plays what, but at times the soloing tends to go overboard and come off more as showboating, rather than playing for the song. The guys certainly have their chops down and can shred with the best of them, but there're times when I hear a solo and think this would be great if he played with more restraint. I am certainly not opposed to massive arpeggios and huge alt-picked runs, I just find that an approach along the lines of, say, Adrian Smith or Andre Olbrich would've helped the songs more. Divine Darkness is a pretty good album, despite its flaws. The glass isn't half empty but half full and these guys sound like a group with the potential to put out a very good album a few years down the road. I hope a label takes a chance on them and gives them the aid of a great producer/engineer, because then their future can be very bright.