Scent Of Divine Blood
posted on 8/2008 By:
Oceania further proves itself to be a surprisingly strong launching pad for up and coming metal acts—Australia’s Fearscape is the third band from the region I’ve reviewed in the past few months (New Zealand’s El Schlong and Ulcerate were the other two). Like El Schlong, Fearscape blend a number of disparate influences in an attempt to achieve a distinctive sound, though their selection of ingredients isn’t nearly as catholic as El Schlong’s. Specifically, these dudes try their hand at stirring up progressive black metal with smidgens of death metal and doom, and ultimately end up sounding something like later Enslaved with longer songs and less weirdness. It’s certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s solidly executed and well-written enough to be enjoyable.
Part of that solid execution is thanks to the extremely fitting production job courtesy of Mortification’s Steve Rowe. For an essentially no-name band, these guys have managed to hit on pretty much exactly the right tone for their musical style: Peter Willmott’s guitars are an icy crust that overlays but doesn’t dominate a driving rhythm section, while Matt Brown’s vocals drift above without drowning in reverb or burying themselves behind the instruments. The Scent of Divine Blood’s sound is sparse but effective.
Most importantly, Phil Bloomfield’s bass playing is full audible at all times. Thank fuck—unlike the usual heavy metal invisible bassist, this guy actually contributes a ton of melodic content to Fearscape’s sound. His nimble basslines set the tone for what the band calls “epic journey metal” and what everyone else calls proggy black metal (albeit with the aforementioned outside influences). These guys know how to stretch it out without overdoing it, regularly crafting six-to-nine-minute tracks that neither attempt insane Wolves in the Throne levels of epicry nor overstay their welcome. Individually Willmott’s riffs are nothing to write home about, but he reliably crafts expansive, frosty soundscapes that push the songs forward and allow Brown a platform to emote from. Like Willmott, Brown is not blessed with an overabundance of talent, but he uses his voice with economy and effectiveness—his rather stock rasp lends itself well to his incantatory vocal patterns, and his strong ear for catchy vocal melodies does a lot to compensate for his thin singing voice. Overall The Scent of Divine Blood lands squarely in the (slightly damning with faint praise) ‘solid’ camp; I might not return to it during a year that’s ripe with excellent metal, but I certainly enjoy it whenever I hear it.
Oh yeah, and one last thing: Fearscape are apparently Christian. Frankly there’s no way you’d be able to figure this out from listening to the album alone (I gave it at least five spins and still had no clue until I started researching the band), so unless you’re one of those people who shits their pants and starts crying every time Christian dudes play metal, then it really ought to be no concern.
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