Divided We Fall – Dreamcrusher
Rating: 2.75 / 5
Throngs of new female-fronted rock and metal bands put out albums each year. Divided We Fall is one of those many newcomers for 2014. Apparently the symphonic metal band was a surprise hit at this year’s Dames Of Darkness Festival in their native United Kingdom. So, when a friend who attended the show recommended that I check out Divided We Fall’s full-length debut album Dreamcrusher, I figured, “Why not?” Every band is worth a listen, regardless of your opinions afterwards.
Dreamcrusher offers a hybrid of dark rock and jack-hammering metal, with lighter elements that steal the spotlight. Philippa Ricketts’s pleasant, cadent voice sashays between the riffs and keyboards, which range from Transylvanian organs to synth-strings to music-box-like notes. This emphasis on atmosphere and melody softens Divided We Fall’s sound to create an accessible rock / metal balance. This approach may explain why Divided We Fall reminds me of Armonight, an up-and-coming Italian band I covered for Sonic Cathedral a couple years ago. The only difference is that Divided We Fall leans on the heavier side in terms of guitarwork and moods.
For the most part, Dreamcrusher is defined by its saturating atmospheres, Philippa’s vocals, and the brisk pace maintained from start to finish. The title track is a rousing introduction, with eddies of guitars and keys swirling at a fluid clip and Philippa giving her most affecting performance on the album. The rest of Dreamcrusher shows different angles of Divided We Fall’s sound: organ-tinged omens (“Revenge”), guitar-centric surrenders (“Fight For Love”) smooth uptempo ballads (“Dream My Life Away”), and semi-symphonic twists on fairy tales (“Escaping Wonderland”), to name a few. Closing instrumental “Departure” is the album’s only true ballad, alighting with lyrical keys before the other instruments slip in.
I can understand how Divided We Fall’s music may appeal to fans of female-fronted rock and metal, but Dreamcrusher doesn’t do much to excite me. The songs are pleasing to the ear but not particularly catchy despite the band’s melodic nature. Some elements seemed out of place, too. (Why include operatic vocals on just one song out of ten?) And while I normally try to avoid commenting on mix quality when reviewing unsigned bands (most don’t have the finances or connections to get a first-rate sound mixer), Dreamcrusher could have benefitted from a generally better mix. The keys repeatedly wash out the guitars, while the fade-out endings are too abrupt and occur surprisingly often for a rock/metal band.
All that said, imperfection should be expected on a band’s debut disc. And while Divided We Fall need to hone their songwriting and fine-tune their sound, they have succeeded in creating a distinct, energetic style. Listeners can detect influences from Evanescence, Delain, Within Temptation, and Kamelot if they concentrate hard enough. But calling Divided We Fall anyone’s copycat would be an insult to a vision that does show glimmers of promise. I wouldn’t recommend Dreamcrusher to those craving the cream of the “femme metal” crop. However, it makes a decent “gateway” album for metal newbies who might prefer something lighter and more melodic to start.
Highlights: “Dreamcrusher,” “Dream My Life Away,” “Escaping Wonderland”
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Coming Soon: Two more Music Monday Reviews are in the pipeline, for Anathema’s Distant Satellites and Phillip Phillip’s Behind The Light.