|Musical Style: Symphonic Power Metal||Produced By: Jani Stefanovic & Christian Rivel|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Finland & Sweden|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Divinefire|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 42:53|
As the old saying goes, “three times is a charm”, and such is the case with Divinefire and its excellent third full length outing Into A New Dimension. Recorded in follow up to the bands 2005 releases Glory Thy Name and Hero, the album continues to find founding members vocalist Christian Rivel (Narnia) and composer and multi-instrumental virtuoso Jani Stefanovic (Essence Of Sorrow) charting the waters of symphonic power metal territory. What we wind up with is a work that can best be described as fast paced and energetic but epic and orchestral at the same time, a compelling combination of rapid fire double bass, hard hitting guitar riffs and searing leads.
Similar to its prior efforts, nonetheless, on Into A New Dimension Divinefire infuses elements of the melodic and the extreme but with a greater emphasis on both. And that is a very good thing. For example, stronger hooks and melodies abound, best showcased on “Into A New Dimension” and “Facing The Liar” – two songs standing out with their catchy hooks – in addition to “All For One”, perhaps the finest song in Divinefire’s three album repertoire. Stefanovic, at the same time, contributes more growls as well, the likes of “Alive”, “The Final Victory” and others highlighted by his aggressive stylings. Rivel, of course, continues to bring a smooth sounding vocal delivery that stands in perfect contrast to the more extreme variations provided by Stefanovic.
Drums and programming, rhythm and lead guitar and keyboards are all capably handled by Stefanovic. His work on keyboards is quite well done, always adding just the right amount of symphonic touch without coming across heavy handed. As a lead guitarist, he divides his time with several talented guest musicians in Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia), Patrik Gardberg and Pontus Norgren (Talisman). You will find “Time’s Running Out”, “The Final Victory” and the albums majestic title track adorned with the needed amount of dual lead guitar work. Andreas Olsson (Narnia) rounds out the line up on bass.
Production values, reflecting a full and polished feel, bring out the best in the bands trademark aggressive but symphonic sound.
The album gets underway with “Vision Of The New Dawn”, a goth-like instrumental sustained by an amalgamation of orchestration, militant drums and sweeping keyboards.
“Passion & Fire” hammers its way forward from the start in furious fashion, progressively gaining initiative until obtaining a hard hitting chorus coming across in the form of a Christian metal battle cry:
We rock – We will never stop
With passion and fire
We rock ‘til we’ve reached our goal
With Holy Ghost power
After the song slows for a worshipful passage (There’s no one like You. You are Alpha and Omega. No, there’s no one like You. And we rock for the King…), Grimmark adds several seconds of radiant lead guitar work. In the end, this one is heavy but delivers a great deal of melody as well.
“Time’s Running Out” immediately cuts in to a pounding riff as Stefanovic lets loose with a no-nonsense growl. The song proceeds to move ahead with a plethora of guitar driven initiative, double bass adding to the frenetic scene as it reaches a sweeping chorus highlighted by a trace of backing vocals. A lead guitar trade off between Grimmark (first solo) and Stefanovic (second) helps shore up an energetic instrumental section. The message here comes across comforting in nature:
Do not fear, you’re not alone
I am right here
Call on me and I’m on the line
Keep my commands, I’m on your side
This world is bound in chains, I know
You are my servants
Believe in me
I’ll set you free
The albums title track jumps out of the gate at literal breakneck speed, tapering off slightly for its first verse only to pick back up in pace for an alluring chorus delivered with an abundance of resonant momentum. One of the albums finest moments takes place as operatic vocal harmonies briefly accent the song (Prince of peace. Lord of lords. Glory to the Son of Man) prior to an instrumental section carried by a lead guitar trade off between Gardberg (first solo), Stefanovic (second) and Grimmark (third). Another number that is heavy but melodic at the same time.
“Facing The Liar”, a track in which Divinefire recently recorded a video, begins to vocal harmonies before a symphonic flavored riff takes over. Rushing through its first verse in near thrash-like manner, the song procures a passage driven by Stefonofic’s growls before Rivel returns and leads the way to a fleeting chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. “Facing The Liar” talks about standing strong in the faith:
Get down on my knees
I’m prepared for the battle
I lay down my life
Into Your holy hands
I look to the sky
See the angels around me
They care for my life
Marked by the blood
Of the Holy Lamb
A double bass driven riff introduces “Live Or Die” as Rivel cuts loose with one of his trademark falsetto screams. The song slows to a pronounced bass line at the start of its first verse before the rhythm guitar crashes back into the mix, the double bass driven impetus regained for a frenetic chorus focusing on how today is the day of salvation:
Live or die
I have no fear
The Son of Man is calling me
There’s no time to lose
I’ll follow His way
It’s live or die
Live or die
Similar to “Into A New Dimension”, “Live Or Die” decelerates for choir-like vocal harmonies (The Son is rising. All is calm) only to pick back up in pace for an instrumental section fortified by a technical guitar solo.
“Alive” commences in rollicking fashion only to taper off as keyboards decorate the background upon acquiring its first verse. Following a few brief seconds of snarling growls, the up-tempo aggression returns for a non-stop hook filled chorus buttressed by pummeling double bass. Gardberg nails an energetic stretch of fast fingered lead guitar work. As its title implies, “Alive” talks about how Christ is risen and alive:
Hold on to the fire
He’ll show me the way
I’m not afraid
I enter the Kingdom
His blood paid the price
Jesus is alive
He has paid the price
Set in motion by pristine vocal harmonies, “All For One” moves ahead to a passage carried by ominous sounding keyboards until the rhythm guitar abruptly forces its way into the mix. Rivel handles the songs first verse with his clean vocal delivery while Stefanovic grows through the second, the flowing chorus that follows standing out as a result of the anthem-like manner in which it is delivered. Grimmark pulls out all the stops with a snarling guitar solo. Great, great song that ranks with Divinefire’s best.
“The Final Victory” takes off to an all out high-octane riff, thrashing through its first and second verse before seizing a hard hitting passage overflowing with angst-laden growls. A catchy chorus details the final victory in question:
He sacrificed His life
He took our sins away
He rose from the dead
The final victory
He paid the price for you
Eternal love will reign
Darkness fades away
The final victory
Gardberg and Stefanovic energize an instrumental section with their dual lead guitar work. Stefanovic effectively sums up the songs powerful message:
Devil in disguise
Father of lies
The game is over
Serpent’s head is crushed
“The Last Encore” is a terrific instrumental reinforced by a portentous amalgamation of keyboards and pounding drums. The presence of orchestration almost reflects a Kansas-like feel at times. The only complaint here is that I wish the song had been carried out an extra minute or two.
“Free Like An Eagle”, a cover of an old Talk Of The Town number, is a bonus track that originally appeared on the Japanese version of Glory Thy Name. The song opens to vocal harmonies before a wall of rhythm guitar takes over the mix, driving things forward until a chorus carried at a catchy, upbeat tempo is secured. The presence of double bass adds quite the striking contrast when compared to the original version of the song.
All in all, as a result of its strong songwriting, first class production and solid musicianship, I cannot help but think that Into A New Dimension represents the finest work from Divinefire to date. And the decision to place further emphasis on both the melodic and the extreme, at the same time, only serves to further define the bands unique sound. Highly recommended and destined to rank with the finest releases of the year.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Vision Of The New Dawn” (1:44), “Passion & Fire” (5:02), “Time’s Running Out” (3:29), “Into A New Dimension” (3:44), “Facing The Liar” (4:18), “Live Or Die” (4:05), “Alive” (4:21), “All For One” (4:31), “The Final Victory” (5:08), “The Last Encore” (3:22), “Free Like An Eagle” (3:04)
Christian Rivel – Lead Vocals
Jani Stefanovic – Drums, Guitars, Growls, Keyboards & Programming
Andreas Olsson – Bass
Carl Johan Grimmark, Patrik Gardberg & Pontus Norgren – Lead Guitar
Also Reviewed: Divinefire - Glory Thy Name, Divinefire – Hero, Divinefire - Farewell, Audiovision - The Calling, Essence Of Sorrow - Reflections Of The Obscure, Flagship - Maiden Voyage, Mehida - Blood & Water, Narnia –The Great Fall, Narnia - At Short Notice, Narnia - Enter The Gate, Narnia - Decade Of Confession, Wisdom Call – Wisdom Call