Unfortunately I didn’t get around to posting last week like I wanted to due to things getting away from me with work and real life, so I’m doing last week’s band tonight and hopefully will be able to do this week’s band Thursday night – or so I hope.
Week Two of 2016 has Dead and Divine (2003 – 2012) and this is one that I am really excited about because they’re my favorite “post-hardcore” band of all time. I use that genre loosely as I don’t think it completely fits them throughout all of their releases, but it’s the best one I have for right now.
What Really Happened At Lover’s Lane – 11/29/05
I don’t really remember the exact time I found out about this band, but I can remember coming home from school in the spring of 2005 and jumping on MySpace to search for new bands. I loved, still do, jumping onto random media and outlets to find new music given the chance to. If memory serves me right, I was trying to search for something to do with “Dead by Dawn” and to this day, I don’t know why but that’s what I was searching for.
Hitting play on the first of three songs that had available on their player plummeted me right into the song You Are Cordially Invited… off of their upcoming release on Verona Records and I was immediately hooked. They were playing the catchy melodic metalcore that I loved so dearly at that time. I immediately started reading every blog they had posted, looking through every picture, and just kept continuing to listen to those three songs (You Are Cordially Invited… , Behold! A Night To Remember, and Curiosity Killed the Cat) on repeat for the rest of the day. Months pass and the album is released, but I can’t find it anywhere as I don’t live in Canada – so of course, I waited and waited and waited until all eight tracks of the album were uploaded to Limewire. I still have the burnt CD of this album, and luckily now, I own the real copy.
It’s been 10 years and some change since this album came out and listening to it now simply just feels like being a teenager again. It’s pure nostalgia and it reminds me of why I loved being a musician and why I wanted to be that for the rest of my life. Of course there definitely are some parts of the album that shows its age and the age of the members was (which I won’t get into as they went through a piss ton of lineup changes) 16 / 17 years old. The songwriting and lyrical content show these things but GODDAMN I am a sucker for a concept album. Just a quick synopsis of this album is that it revolves around a young couple, focusing on the male as the POV, who are parked up at Lover’s Lane and witness the end of the world. They believe they are the only two survivors, and of course as time goes on, they start to grow sick of eachother. Lo and behold, a drifter comes along and the female cheats on the central character and he just loses it. He kills both the drifter and the girl and finally driving the car off of the cliffside of Lover’s Lane to end the album with his death.
Favorite Track – Behold! A Night To Remember
The Fanciful – 03/18/2008
Well, shit my grits with this album. This is the album I can remember waiting forever to get from Dead and Divine. They had been releasing demos of songs left and right over the past couple of years – songs like Stick Around Chief, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet and All’s Fair in Love and War (both of which were renamed). I had this album pre-ordered the moment they went live on Rise Records and when it finally arrived, I went into my bedroom and placed it into my CD player and listened to it all night long while sitting there re-reading every possible lyric over and over. Which, I am still trying to find the demo for the song If I Found You In Hell, I Can Find You In Jersey (I believe that’s the name, or something close – as the album follows the movie What Dreams May Come pretty closely) but almost 8 years later and no luck on finding this track.
The Fanciful is a continuation of the concept presented on their first release What Really Happened at Lover’s Lane and follows the central character and his journey through the afterlife as he fights to get back the woman he murdered and eventually realizing that a) he killed himself over a girl he loved and b) he doesn’t need her anymore. It’s separated into four Acts with each one detailing more on a certain character – Act I: The Machine, Act II: The Serpent, Act III: The Charmer, and finally Act IV: The Goddess. Each of these acts tie together the central theme of the album and really helps develop the main character and his mindset throughout the entire journey which is probably one of the reasons this is such a good album to me. Like I said earlier, I am a complete sucker for concept albums, if done well of course.
The overall songwriting on this album has improved leaps and bounds – they are no longer following or sounding like a traditional post-hardcore / metalcore band that the early 2000’s seemed to constantly churn out. Matt Tobin is sings with a Morrissey-like fearlessness and attitude while newcomer Chris LeMasters is bringing in more southern influence and melodic writing than ever before. The Fanciful even came with two “slow songs” to rope in all the angsty young girls, but Something I’ve Rehearsed and To The Moon and Back are still great songs – all in all, this is for sure the album that solidified my faith in this band.
Favorite Track: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
The Machines We Are – 08/04/09
This is an album that I hadn’t been able to keep up with as much as I wanted to during the writing and recording process but I can distinctly recall sitting in my apartment at the time and hearing the single The Sugar Sickness and thinking “this sounds a little different than I was expecting but it’s still a great song.”
Queue another drummer change and out of nowhere, guitarist Dave McGuire is gone without a trace. However, this doesn’t stop TMWA from being a great album – it’s got all of the expected catchy melodic choruses and hooks while introducing breakdowns with even catchier and more enticing lyrics than the last release. This full-length isn’t a concept album, so it’s the first of their official releases to not be a part of the “End of the World // Journey through Hell” story vocalist Matt Tobin has started way back when and it goes to show that Dead and Divine are completely capable of writing an amazing album without the concept gimmick. I love the direction they took with this release, greatly improving the variety in song writing and really allowing each member of the band to really shine – and lyrically this album just does it for me.
As with the band’s tradition there are two softer songs on the album to help break up the monotony of some of this genre’s songwriting – Teeth and Lovely Bones. The release definitely show just how well Matt can sing / write while he croons over lyrical themes of obsessive love, partying, and the fanaticism of religion. In the end, this is my favorite album of the Dead and Divine discography as it just has everything in it that I love about this band.
Favorite Track: Creature
Antimacy – 08/11/11
Antimacy was an album that was announced and I immediately wanted to know what the hell that word meant. According to the band it’s the oppostie of intimacy which very well fits the overall theme of this album. I remember Austin and I sitting in the basement of the band house we were living in at the time and I just purchased the album on iTunes. We sat there for well over an hour listening to the album back to back to really take it in.
Once again, Dead and Divine had broken away from the norm of the melodic metalcore genre and really showcased what kind of musicians they were. Songs like Asphyxia Fiend, Carcinoma, and Grim Love just redefined what I thought I new about the genre and what to expect from bands at the time. I also love the album artwork throughout and still to this day, try to understand what half of the images are and decipher some of the handwritten lyrics (even if I already know them all). This album just feels more personal and full than anything else and I truly believe if they had stayed a band for one more release, we would have seen even more improvement as they constantly showed with each release.
So much of this genre, this album included, has the typical sung chorus and screamed verse songwriting but Antimacy shows that while they still subscribe to this way of writing it is still full of crushing riffs and choruses full of harmonic dissonance. It’s atypical from their previous releases as it doesn’t have a slow song on it, just an electronic instrumental Nothing is Alright as the second to last song. It’s a fast paced album with metaphors galore and darker than anything from before and that is exactly the breath of fresh air that most people appreciate. While my favorite track on the album is the title track, an honorable mention will be the song Carcinoma. I’m not much a fan of the band letlive but Jason Butler doing guest vocals in this song just really shine and make this an absolute killer track.
Favorite Track: Antimacy
I’m not really sure what direction I want to go with the weekly discography because a lot of it will be metal and hardcore bands but that isn’t really the only genre I listen to. Just the one where I tend to have the most bands with 3+ CD’s released in – but I am always open to suggestions on artists and albums.
Dead and Divine is a band that I was legitimately crushed when they broke up and I am incredibly thankful that I was able to see them at least once in their band’s lifetime. However, as usual, music is always able to take you back to the moments in your life that define you (both good and bad) and make you really appreciate what you have experienced.
Jerold D. Blankenship