Wednesday 2 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Pale Divine, "Pale Divine"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/11/2018
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records

Undoubtedly, this is one of the best US doom releases of the year and sits alongside The Skull and Apostle of Solitude as one of the best albums in the genre for 2018.

“Pale Divine” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Spinning Wheel
2. Bleeding Soul
3. Chemical Decline
4. So Low
5. Curse the Shadows
6. Shades of Blue
7. Silver tongue
8. Ship of Fools

The Review

Pale Divine have been playing this music for two and a half decades and it shows- in terms of quality and experience. This record is doom/stoner doom in the traditional sense. Think The Obsessed, Pentagram, Trouble and throw in a heavy dose of Sabbath and The Sword and that gives you a fair idea of what is on offer here. The band also have some trad metal in their veins too (some Maiden-esque passages here and there) and that melting pot makes for a very satisfying listening experience.

The vibe is pure doom and comparable to the dark and powerful atmosphere that Iron Man conjured up on their “South of the Earth” album. “Spinning Wheel” and “So Low” both have heavy doses of Maryland Doom within their structures and the sound is pleasingly raw and live. It's melodramatic, downcast and features superb riffing with twists and turns that Sabbath circa “Vol. 4” would be proud of.

The bass work is fantastic- very Geezer. The drums are rock solid and tastefully done; nice fills here and there, good groove and good dynamic use of the kit. The guitar work is very Griffin/Iommi esque and therefore superb. The vocals are of course actual singing- rough edged and smoky and thus another huge plus for the record. In fact... there is nothing about this that I don't like.

With songs like “Ship of Fools” and the closing doom blues of “Shades of Blue” extending to the seven and eight minute territory, there is the possibility for the record to drag, but the playing time of around 45 minutes (or so, I am looking at the MP3 song lengths here and adding up) means that the record clips by at quite a rate and feels solid front to back. There are riffs and substances to die for in “Chemical Decline” as well as archetypal Sabbathian “fast bits”. “Bleeding Soul” manages an epic feel with a sub five minute running time- quite a feat.

If anything, the record builds up a head of steam as it goes; the back stretch providing some of the most satisfying music of the album. “Silver Tongues” is a grooving delight that fits alongside the best of US doom/stoner material. Conversely, “Curse the Shadows” strays a lot closer to proto doom/70's rock territory and is a nice change for the record.

The aforementioned “Shades of Blue” is a bassy and bluesy beast and closes the record in some style; large in sound and scope with a laid back feel to the grooves and delivery. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best US doom releases of the year and sits alongside The Skull and Apostle of Solitude as one of the best albums in the genre for 2018. It may well be that the Europeans have ruled the doom roost this year with superlative records from Dawn of Winter, Witchsorrow, Iron Void (cough!), Conan and Barbarian Hermit but this record is truly excellent and I have enjoyed reviewing it almost as much as I have enjoyed listening to it. Doom on, gentlemen, doom on.

“Pale Divine” is available HERE

Band info: facebook