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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Divine Regale

Ocean Mind

Review by Gary Hill

Combining elements of general progressive rock (influenced by bands like Yes), Queensryche (the vocals being the largest Queensryche influence present) and even Iron Maiden, this is a very well conceived, and mature performance. This album is so well done that it really makes it hard to believe that this is the band`s debut album (they did release one EP previously). I really am hesitant to call this album progressive metal, because progressive rock seems closer to describing it in many ways. The song writing style here is based on fairly short and straightforward songs with insightful lyrics, emotional vocals, and intricate arrangements. In fact, on first listening, these songs seem rather simple and catchy, but upon further auditions, there is a depth to be found in fascinating arrangements and unusual song styles. This is a very well done album.

Divine Regale was formed in 1990 in Dover, NH. The lineup on this album is Chris Anderson, Frank Couture, Daniel Elliot, Dwight Hill, Jason Keaser and Gary Leighton. The CD is available in record stores everywhere and can be ordered directly from the label. Divine Regale-Ocean Mind ($14.00 plus shipping) can be ordered at the Metalblade online catalog ordering Website at http://www.iuma.com/Metal_Blade/catalog/secure.html .

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ocean Mind
Ocean Mind is a very well written song which combines the elements of progressive metal with those of classic progressive rock very flawlessly. This piece, as most of the tracks on this album, combines intelligent and evocative lyrics with exceptionally coherent and mature song writing. Showing elements of Queensryche and Yes (particularly in portions of the bass and keyboard sections), this track really moves much in it`s own direction. This piece seems to be about the chance of lost opportunities and wanting to live one`s life in your own way. Still, distractions of the pace of life make the main character fear that his opportunities are fading. "Feel free and search your mind or will fate intervene and decide your destiny".
Change?
Containing some very nice keyboard textures and bass work, a bit more firmly in a Queensryche sort of vein, this song contains much of it`s own character. Featuring some wonderful imagery ("paint a picture for the blind, as the pen reaches paper, and the words they find their rhyme"), this cut appears to address the songwriter`s process of creation and of finding peace of mind through art. Comparing his song writing to other artists, he wonders what their art means to them. The ending of the lyrics here is wonderfully ambiguous, leaving the listener with several possible meanings. This is a very strong track on a very strong album.
Shadowed Words Forgotten
Beginning with an almost psychedelic feeling percussive section, this is another powerful piece. This song is definitely in a solid heavy metal vein, although, certainly not limited by that vein. Shadowed Words Forgotten is one of the more thoroughly passionate tracks on the album. This song appears to talk about the dangers of shutting out life`s confusion, and vicious cycle that that can entail.
No Part of This
This track has its footing quite firmly in a metallic fashion, but contains some quite quirky arrangements. The instrumental break to this one encompasses some wonderfully imaginative progressive stylings, while still maintaining the heavy metal tone that is prevalent throughout the composition. Lyrically, this track seems to expresses dissatisfaction with a spoon-fed society that doesn't think for itself. The songwriter wants out of this whole situation, and it's not hard to agree with him.
Leaves
Coming on the heels of the metallic power of No Part of This, the mellow piano based intro to Leaves seems that much gentler by comparison. Featuring some very delicate guitar work, this song has a greatly melancholy texture to it, and an extremely wonderful arrangement. A somber song of love lost, this is my favorite track on this album; it really reaches into the soul. The storyteller here is hanging onto the past, and wonders if he can live his life without his love. A feeling of hopelessness and sadness pervades, as he contemplates life alone. The last stanza seems to indicate that they are still together somewhere on another plane.
Horizon
Containing some more wonderfully quirky arrangements, this is another intensely evocative track. The style here is really very hard to put a finger on, combining elements of many styles (rock ballad, heavy metal, and progressive rock, among others). This seems to be an account of revisiting, in one`s mind, the place of one`s childhood and, through that, one`s childhood. The narrator contemplates how far he's come. He sees his youth as innocent and naive, and looks at the future through the eyes of himself as a child. He is that future now.
Cry To Heaven
Beginning with some nice keyboard voicings, this track proceeds into some vaguely Iron Maiden styled segments. The arrangement here is quite unconventional and the song at times is a bit reminiscent of Rush. This is definitely a progressive rock song with genuine heavy metal influences. One movement, (predominantly keyboard and vocal based) is quite thoroughly in the Rush mode while still retaining a very definite Queensryche feel. The combination of those two sorts of sounds creates a very original texture, and the short keyboard solo that follows that section is quite pleasing. The storyteller here appears to be talking about a woman who is tormented by her past, and praying to heaven for relief from her pain and fear. He has tried to help her make the pain go away, but he cannot. Now even his only hope is that he prays to heaven, as well. "Things happened for a reason, now I'm not so sure anymore"
Underworld
Another track which is quite heavily grounded in heavy metal, this one, again, is not held down by the possible limitations of that musical style. At times this track actually reminds me of a harder edged old Genesis type track, and contains a very entertaining instrumental break. In a child's fantasies of dragons, the end is always a rescue by a child. Then the child sees the real dragons of the world: poverty and homelessness, and as an adult he wonders, "am I the child to save this world?" However, he recognizes that unlike the fantasy stories of dragons, it will take many people to save this dragon world.
Forever Changing Winds
Lyrically, this track seems to be a melancholy lament of high expectations which have not gone unrealized. An energetic progressive rock piece, this song has much more in common with bands such as Yes and Genesis than it does with Queensryche or various progressive metal bands. At over 8 minutes in length, and with some intensely fascinating changes, this is definitely the progressive high point of the album, and as such, is a very fitting conclusion to the album.
 
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