DIVINA ENEMA "Under Phoenix Phenomenon"
I had heard quite a bit about DIVINA ENEMA, but never their music. Rarely I encountered so extremely different opinions as with this Byelorussian band, from brilliant to "worst band of the world" (eh, Paul?), so "Under Phoenix Phenomenon" is a nice chance to get into this band myself. One thing I can say with absolute conviction, DIVINA ENEMA is a band for a minority as their music is a partly quite abstract version of Gothic Metal, with influences from Folk, Black Metal and some thing that I really cannot describe, even with good will. But the main reason for the very split reactions without a doubt is the voice of Yaroslav Burakov, because that one has a very unique sound, somehow it reminds me of these records from the 30s, played on old gramophones... It also has its very own timbre, but even though I can very well imagine that many of you will hate it, it has its own touch, which I somehow even like (as soon as I got used to it, of course). Even though it sometimes ventures into regions that are visited either very rarely or never before, and that for a reason. Musically DIVINA ENEMA combine Gothic Metal with very different elements and mix these in a quite original and, as said, partly also pretty abstract way, which will make it very hard to digest for most people, despite the at times very accessible passages. So we get lots of breaks, influences from Progressive Metal, Death Metal, some Black Metal, Folk, Elektronik and even more, partly changing very abruptly, keeping the songs very unpredictable at all times, but at the same time also keeping up the tension, letting the borders between the genres blur. That also makes it very hard to pick out single songs, "A Handful Of Hay" or "Iron Megaira" are the most probably best digestible songs on "Under Phoenix Phenomenon", together with "Fee Nicks Fen' Omen On:". But there also is one exception into the other direction: "No Corpse - No Funeral". This song is extreme, not extremely heavy or extremely brutal, but rather extremely weird and extremely hard to digest. It starts out with some sort of funky rhythm and some electronics, then brings us a weird, bouncing sound ("boing"), goes back, erupts in a fast Metal explosion to throw everything so far together and finally sound very synthetic. Then we get weird effects on top of that mix, then some choir vocals with the "boing", a technoid rhythm and that is not even everything that this song contains. And in crass contrast the following "God Bless You Bastards!" starts quite softly, with clean guitars and great melodies, to turn more complex again (also with a few Black Metal shrieks), fully in the DIVINA ENEMA style. The closing "Fee Nicks Fen' Omen On:" then most probably is the most accessible track on the whole album that will meet least resistance of potential listeners. The background of "Under Phoenix Phenomenon" also is very interesting, because this album is based upon a pretty far out concept about a man, who starts to hear voices from within himself and see shapes of fabulous creatures, which try to tell him something. The whole situation escalates more and more and finally the whole thing ends in the suicide of the main character and "Under Phoenix Phenomenon" is the soundtrack of this story, trust me, once you have read the synopsis of the story, it will become clearer why the music sounds like it does… So DIVINA ENEMA definitely are not mass compatible, but one thing is just as sure, the guys can play, damn well even, which is something that you should never leave out of consideration, it is just very, very demanding and definitely cannot be consumed at any given time, but if you have a knack for the unusual and also can digest abstract song structures, then you should put "Under Phoenix Phenomenon" onto your list of CDs that you should at least check out (if you can "check out" a CD like that in first place). To make it short, take all the given structures and formulas that you know form music and throw them far, far away. What is left then, is DIVINA ENEMA - or something like that… As rough description, take Progressive Avantgarde Folk Gothic Rock Metal...
DIVINA ENEMA "To Wight Shalt Never Shine"
Onions are perhaps one of the most consumed food stuffs in the world and has a frightful reputation of making the consumer cry during the preparation thereof; “To Wight Shalt Never Shine” is (like green ogres called Shrek) a bit like an onion. Much have been said about the vocal styles of Yaroslav Burakoff and the first step to unearthing the treasure underneath is learning to appreciate it for what it is, simply tolerating it would probably not be enough. This is quite a lengthy album which feels much, much longer when you’re not enjoying the vocal exploits that range from growls and (80’s Goth scene) howls to falsely high screams and screeches at least in some way. This is probably the major factor that will keep most from giving this album the chance it deserves and the greatest tragedy is that most of these unbelievers will most likely not make it past the first few tracks. The music sometimes leave the impression of some dark and creepy Folk tale being performed on a stage and the music crafts images of dark caves inhabited by long forgotten creatures, misty swamps with will-o’-the-wisps fluttering about over the surface, and dense overgrown forests with a strange hermit living within singing songs that only he seems to be able to hear. (Those familiar with MECHANICAL POET’S “Woodland Prattlers” will understand what I’m getting at). The musical style can be best described as Progressive Theatrical Black Metal and that probably includes most of the styles that influenced DIVINA ENEMA, but if there ever was an album that doesn’t deserve to be placed in a box, this is it. It is very melodic throughout and there are many slower, quieter interludes that break up the tempo and add a lot of the detail to this strange tale. The song structures are quite complex (perhaps in the absence thereof) and I was pleased to note, when I read the lyrics, that DIVINA ENEMA tended not to reuse verses within the songs so each one reads like a little story. I really can go on and on about the classical nuances, the delightful turn of melody that follow some of the really fast, heavy riffing and the fantastic and varied (yes, I said fantastic) vocals of Mr. Burakoff, but this album is better enjoyed first hand. When a band makes an album like this they either get it right or it goes horribly, horribly wrong and they inflict pain and suffering on unsuspecting listeners and reviewers. Luckily, in the case of "To Wight Shalt Never Shine", they just about got it right and this is an album that is interesting and entertaining - even if it does at times leave you feeling confused and wondering why... Every time I listen to “To Wight Shalt Never Shine” I like it a little more than I did the previous time (my rating has gone up 2 or 3 times already) and even though the album is not faultless, there really isn’t anything I could pick out that is worth mentioning. Music is a form of art so one cannot deny DIVINA ENEMA their place in the sun and in an industry where most things you hear are rehashed relatives of things all heard before, you need such a band to show that it is still necessary to push the boundaries and challenge the audience. “To Wight Shalt Never Shine” is by no means easy listening, but absolutely essential to anyone interested in exploring the often bleak and barren wastelands of the Avantgarde. (I always intended to start this review with a simile or metaphor and I think I made the right decision to settle on the humble onion instead of the first and perhaps rather obvious subject that popped into my head. I am sure however there are some out there who wouldn’t think comparing this listening experience to an enema would be too farfetched.)(9/10)
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