Prog-power label, Nightmare Records, is the home of old and new favorites — Seven Kingdoms, Clandestine and Memoira, to name a few – so I pay close attention when it adds another band to the roster, because odds are good that the band will suit my taste very well. I’m happy to report that Divine Ascension’s debut album, As The Truth Appears, is well on its way to claiming a place among my favorite albums of 2011.
So, what can you expect out of these relative newcomers from Melbourne, Australia? Prepare your ears for a feast of power metal, liberally seasoned with progressive metal and a smidgen of symphonic and Middle Eastern elements for extra flavor. Divine Ascension is fronted by the full-throated, midrange voice of Jennifer Borg, whose theatrical training undoubtedly contributed to the emotional intensity of her vocal performance. As The Truth Appears is, after all, an album that speaks of destruction and rebuilding, questioning norms, and searching for answers in the midst of chaos — themes that are foreshadowed by the album artwork of a little girl building a sandcastle on an empty beach with a smoke-wreathed skyline on the far horizon. Although the overarching message is hopeful, it does not lend itself to a light, airy vocal treatment. Grit and pathos and moments of outrage are called for, and convincingly delivered by Borg.
Borg’s voice is complemented by five musicians who know their craft: Karl Szulik & Robert Inglis on guitars, David Van Pelt on keys, Simon Mahoney on bass, and Luke Wenczel on drums. (Former keyboardist, Don Marciano, is credited on some songs.) I am a big fan of bands with two guitars and a keyboardist, because the result (if done right) is greater musical complexity and sophistication than the typical guitar-bass-drum configuration. Just listen to the dazzling twin-guitar riffing on “Visionary,” the progressive rhythm line on “Another Battlefield,” and the Middle Eastern inflected keyboards on “Guided By Osiris” for prime examples of infusing songs with crackling energy, without overpowering the vocals or digressing into self-indulgent prog noodling.
As The Truth Appears will be released worldwide on 11 October 2011, and undoubtedly will be available at most online and physical retailers. You can preorder the 10-track edition at Nightmare Records or the special 12-track Japanese edition at Hydrant Music. In the meantime, Divine Ascension has released the music video for their first single, “Answers,” featuring fellow-Aussie, Silvio Massaro of Vanishing Point. Enjoy!
Divine Ascension are:
- Jennifer Borg — vocals
- Karl Szulik — lead & rhythm guitars
- Robert Inglis — rhythm & lead Guitars
- David Van Pelt — keyboards
- Simon Mahoney — bass
- Luke Wenczel – drums