DIVINE HERESY SUCK ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU THINK ON BRINGER OF PLAGUES
Divine Heresy get a lot of somewhat undeserved hate: calling the band out for not being very good would be like calling this writer out for not hitting .458 for the Dodgers. This isn’t to say that the band necessarily deserve defense; in fact, I can’t imagine a solid argument for their existence. But their brand of technical nu-deathcore works surprisingly well, in that it’s not so much awful as it is awfully bland. And while perhaps it’s not fair to commend a band for not being as terrible as they could be, it’s not fair to decry them for not being amazing. If you were expecting them to be a slightly edgier Fear Factory, Bringer of Plagues, their latest album, delivers exactly what you’d think: 42 minutes (strangely enough, to the second) of surgically precise mechanical riffs, big yet terribly obvious grooves, pretty bad nu-metalcore vocals, and nothing particularly memorable.
As someone who thinks Fear Factory are unfairly maligned (say what you will, but they serve as a gateway for a lot of people from nu-metal to actual, decent extreme metal), I can say it’s interesting to hear guitarist Dino Cazares shift back and forth between big dumb grooves and riffs that owe a surprising lot to technical death metal. Or at least it’s interesting at first. The riffs don’t do a whole lot after the first few times you hear them, and blend together after a few songs. On top of that, Cazares is the only distinctive member of the band: the drums are triggered to the point of soullessness, and Travis Neal provides terribly bloodless stadium metalcore vocals to sprinkle on top of the beige thrashing beneath. Divine Heresy are basically Fear Factory Premium, but the band sacrifice the personality of original FF drummer Raymond Herrera and the mongoloid soul of Burton C. Bell for the sake of more extremity. At least Fear Factory had a flavor, even if it wasn‘t one you preferred: if you’ve been to a big metalfest in the last 5 years, you’ve heard Divine Heresy, even if they weren’t actually there.
The band go from bland to bad a few times over the course of Bringer of Plagues: “Undivine Prophecies” is an instrumental segue that serves absolutely no transitional purpose whatsoever, and “Darkness Embedded” is a ballad so fucking mangled and cringe-worthy that one longs for the warm, douchey embrace of Staind. But this doesn’t ruin the record; in fact, the bad moments are even more jarring considering the tasteless riff mush that surrounds them. But to set Divine Heresy aside because they’re shitty isn’t fair: they’re just fine for what they are. However, what they are is bland filler between listening to or seeing bands about which one can actually be passionate. Bringer of Plagues is far from the worst album you’ll hear this year: it’s ably performed and certainly doesn’t rival Brokencyde in ways not to spend your time. Unfortunately, there’s not a moment where the album justifies itself. It’s not necessarily awful, but is also in no way necessary.
(1 ½ out of 5 horns)