MORBID ANGEL – Illud Divinum Insanus

With the welcome return of original frontman David Vincent and subsequent years of reunion shows, the stage has been set for one of the most anticipated albums in extreme metal history. Well, some ground rules/warnings need to be set before we get into Illud Divinum Insanus.

Are you a longtime fan that views MORBID ANGEL as the first name in death metal?

Are you expecting to be blown away by a death metal masterpiece that is a worthy successor to Domination?

Do you dislike hardcore (the electronic genre of music) and industrial?

Do you expect a 100% pure death metal album from MORBID ANGEL?

If you answered “yes” to every question, then stay away from this album. You will be utterly disappointed, upset, and just resentful towards the band. Yes, this will be another Load moment.

Illud Divinum Insanus starts off with a grandiose synthesizer intro with chants akin to something from Domination. As it draws to an end, you anticipate an intense death metal track. Instead, the band kicks into a fusion of pounding hardcore, industrial, and death metal. The vocal lines are catchy and David Vincent‘s voice is as good as it ever was. However, it’s easy to envision legions of death metal/MORBID ANGEL purists vomiting in disgust. The following track, “Existo Vulgore,” kicks things to “normalcy.” The rest of the album alternates between mixes of pure death metal, hardcore/industrial, and rock (yes, rock).

First the good and easy to digest point, about half of the album is 100% MORBID ANGEL death metal. There are the scorchers, “Existo Vulgore,” “Blades for Baal,” and “Nevermore.” And man, does the band sound great on these songs – intense, razor sharp, and catchy. “10 More Dead” and “Beauty Meets Beast” are good slithering, energetic songs.

I am Morbid” introduces the band’s first incorporation of a straight up rock feel to their music. “Radikult” kicks the bouncy rock influence to a new level. The song is an anthem to the band’s longevity and success but with lyrics that are significantly more “living free and wild rock ‘n roll” than Necronomicon. “Destructos VS the Earth / Attack” sounds more appropriate for a GENITORTURERS album.

Guitarist Destructhor (ZYKLON, MYRKSKOG) is the perfect successor to Erik Rutan as his songwriting and guitar solo contributions are seamless. Drummer Tim Yeung does a great job taking the place of beloved drum god, Pete Sandoval.

It’s a no brainer that the band are expecting a large backlash over Illud Divinum Insanus. From a purely commercial point of view, this is not the album that will catapult them back to the commercial success they enjoyed during the Domination era. However, the album is far from being objectively bad. What it really boils down to is the phenomenon that many legendary bands go through: They pioneer and conquer a genre of music. They then decide to incorporate their personal favorite genres into their sound. Results tend to be mixed and fan feedback tends to be negative.

In the case of Illud Divinum Insanus, it really comes down to individual tastes and tolerance. But the bottom line is that this is not the comeback album that the metal world, at large, expected or wholeheartedly wanted. (Season of Mist)

FEAR FACTORY – Mechanize

So after all the well-publicized drama in the FEAR FACTORY camp, we finally have the new album by the Burton C. Bell/Dino Cazares/Gene Hoglan/Byron Stroud line-up. The band sounds recharged, reinvigorated and determined to regain the level of critical acclaim and influence that helped propel them to the top of the metal scene in the mid-90’s. It’s safe to say that this is band’s best album since Demanufacture and Obsolete.

The return of guitarist/co-founder Dino Cazares is absolutely crucial as he has brought his best new riffs to Mechanize. Time has been kind to Cazares as his trademark attacking rhythms are more sophisticated now. Drumgod Gene Hoglan lays down an excellent performance and brings more than his fast feet to the recording. It’s nice to hear FEAR FACTORY with plenty of drum fills, blast beats, and other hand work.

For most of Mechanize, the band focus on creating brutal, catchy songs with their famous hammering rhythms. There is plenty of aggression and vitality that is sure to please any headbanger. Album closer, “Final Exit,” is the crown jewel of Mechanize. It works as a great contrast to the rest of the album in not just the fact that it shows the less heavy, more melodic side of the band but it also shows a more humanistic side. With all the mechanical pounding and slamming of the preceding tracks, the tranquility and resolution of “Final Exit” is a great way to end the record.

While Mechanize does not match their landmark Demanufacture, it’s still a fine album that ranks right underneath the latter in the band’s catalogue. Signs of life are abound and the new era of FEAR FACTORY is sure to put the band back at the top of the metal scene. (Candlelight Records)

FEAR FACTORY’s Mechanized Confirmed for February 9, 2010 U.S. Release Date

Candlelight Records today confirms February 9, 2010 as the American release date for Mechanize, the seventh studio album from FEAR FACTORY. Mechanize features the highly reported reconciliation of vocalist Burton C. Bell with original guitarist Dino Cazares along with bassist Byron Stroud and drummer Gene Hoglan. The anticipated album also welcomes back keyboardist/producer Rhys Fulber (FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY).

Mechanize is a full-fisted blast of passion and innovation that sounds like the missing link between 1995’s groundbreaking Demanufacture and 1998’s more texturally nuanced Obsolete. Songs like “Industrial Discipline” and “Powershifter” are crushing and colossal, melding fast and precise rhythms with vocals that pinwheel from raw and scathing to hauntingly melodic while “Fear Campaign,” which features harrowing spoken word passages, quickly segues into a showcase of punishing beats, rapid-fire riffs and ghostly keyboards. For the first time in years, the band’s industrial roots glimmer through its street-lethal metal, thanks in part to Fulber, who worked on FEAR FACTORY‘s popular industrial remix albums Fear is the Mindkiller and Remanufacture.

“I didn’t want any of the soundscapes to sound natural,” says Bell. “I wanted them to be really mechanical because I wanted that aspect of FEAR FACTORY to really shine again. I feel it kind of got dulled over and that’s the aspect that I really enjoyed a lot about FEAR FACTORY. I was a huge fan of industrial music and still am. And you don’t hear much of that anymore these days.”

As work began on the album in early April, Bell, who resides in Pennsylvania, admitted he initially expected the years apart would leave him feeling awkward or uncomfortable. However, when Cazares picked him up at the airport his apprehensions melted. “After being with him a couple hours and talking to him everything was cool,” Bell says. Three months later the duo had a fresh batch of new songs written and more importantly a renewed confidence in their union.

“Our creative juices were really flowing the whole time,” says Cazares about the entire creative process. “All of a sudden we’d look at the clock and go, ‘Holy shit, it’s already 2:30 or 3:00 am.’ We just lost track of time because we were all bouncing ideas off each other really productively. We were adding touches right up until the final second to make the record as fresh as it could be.”

“This is definitely a different chapter for us and I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” Cazares adds. “Obviously, Burton and I have grown up and we’ve pretty much perfected what we do. More importantly, we’ve discovered why we so were good together in the first place. Our combination just works. All the ingredients and the elements that we had in the past, combined with what we’ve learned since being apart feels like putting on a new glove that still feels as good as an old glove.”

DIVINE HERESY Working on Sophomore Album; South American Tour

DIVINE HERESY are hard at work on their much anticipated sophomore release, their first with Travis Neal on vocals. The group plan on hitting the studio on Feb. 1st once again with acclaimed producing team Dirty Icon (Logan Mader and Lucas Banker) who has recently produced CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, GOJIRA and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. The band will also be co-producing this new effort.

The band have posted a re-recorded version of “Bleed the Fifth” with Neal on vocals on their MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/divineheresyband

Guitarist, Dino Cazares, comments on the album: “With Neal now having a few shows under his belt, his confidence is coming across through the new material. The songwriting process has been great and the ideas are constantly flowing. Collaborating with Tim Yeung, Joe Payne and Neal, all together hashing out ideas in the practice space has been very therapeutic and enjoyable. We all have a collective desire to take our performances to the next level with this release to undoubtedly prove that we are one of the most devastating bands in the scene today. Prepare to be annihilated and stay tuned to our MySpace page for studio reports and new video footage.”

DIVINE HERESY embark on a string of headlining South American dates on Dec. 4th. Tour dates can be found on their MySpace page.

DARK TRANQUILLITY Prepare for North American Touring

Sweden’s DARK TRANQUILLITY are set to embark on the Tyranny and Bloodshred 2008 tour alongside ARCH ENEMY, DIVINE HERESY, and FIREWIND. The tour will consist of several off-date shows without ARCH ENEMY and conclude with a headlining run of shows with just DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND.

DARK TRANQUILLITY guitarist, Niklas Sundin, comments on the tour: “We’re very pleased to let our growing hordes of U.S. fans know that we’ll once again return to your shores to serve you in metal. Starting in the beginning of May, we’ll head out as main support for our long-time buddies in ARCH ENEMY. It’ll be a powerful and diverse package that will satisfy everyone.”

Tyranny and Bloodshred Tour with ARCH ENEMY, DIVINE HERESY, and FIREWIND:
05/09 The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA
05/10 Recher Theater – Towson, MD
05/11 Irving Plaza – New York, NY
05/12 Higher Ground – Burlington, VT (Off-date w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND)
05/13 Le Medley – Montreal, QC
05/14 L’Imperial – Quebec City, QC
05/16 The Opera House – Toronto, ON
05/17 The Majestic Theater – Detroit, MI
05/18 Peabody’s – Cleveland, OH (Off-date w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND)
05/19 House of Blues – Chicago, IL
05/20 Station 4 – St. Paul, MN
05/21 The Garrick Centre – Winnipeg, MB
05/22 The Distrikt – Regina, SK (Off-date w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND)
05/23 MacEwan Ballroom – Calgary, AB
05/24 Starlite – Edmonton, AB
05/26 Croatian Cultural Centre – Vancouver, BC (Off-date w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND)
05/27 The Showbox – Seattle, WA
05/28 Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR (Off-date w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND)
05/29 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
05/30 House of Blues – W. Hollywood, CA

Headlining w/ DIVINE HERESY and FIREWIND
05/31 The Club House – Tempe, AZ
06/01 Jillian’s – Las Vegas, NV
06/02 Avalon Theater – Salt Lake City, UT
06/03 Marquis Theatre – Denver, CO
06/05 The Door – Dallas, TX
06/06 Meridian – Houston, TX
06/07 Scout Bar – San Antonio, TX
06/09 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
06/10 Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC

CHIMAIRA, ALL THAT REMAINS, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH to Tour

CHIMAIRA, ALL THAT REMAINS, and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH are teaming up for a U.S. tour in early 2008. East coast dates will feature support from DIVINE HERESY and west coast shows will be opened by LIGHT THIS CITY. Here are the tour dates:

1/31 – Albany, NY – Revolution Hall
2/01 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
2/02 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
2/08 – Detroit, MI – The Majestic Theatre
2/09 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
2/10 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
2/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Station 4
2/13 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
2/15 – Denver, CO – Gothic
2/16 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Avalon
2/17 – Boise, ID – Big Easy Concert House
2/18 – Spokane, WA – Big Easy Concert House
2/21 – San Francisco, CA – Slims
2/22 – San Diego, CA – SOMA
2/23 – Las Vegas, NV – Jillian’s
2/25 – Los Angeles, CA – House of Blues
2/26 – Phoenix, AZ – Marquee
2/28 – Dallas, TX – The Door
2/29 – San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
3/01 – Houston, TX – Meridian
3/03 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
3/04 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
3/05 – Charlotte, NC – Amos Southend

DIVINE HERESY – Bleed the Fifth

For those of you who wanted FEAR FACTORY to do a metalcore album, then this one is for you. Dino Cazares is moving forward with DIVINE HERESY to further make his stamp on the metal scene. Ever present is the machine-like interplay between drums and guitar like you would find on any FEAR FACTORY release, and the music is extremely aggressive as one would expect. FEAR FACTORY references aside, the band has some talent in its own right. Tim Yeung (VITAL REMAINS) performs the drums with expert precision, while Dino handles both guitar and bass for the recording and Tommy Vext rounds out their sound on vocal duties. Although Dino‘s songwriting has always contained some start-stop rhythms to help define his writing style, it is obvious that his creative contributions this time around to DIVINE HERESY‘s Bleed the Fifth attempt to garner the support of the metalcore crowd with breakdowns and clean vocal choruses. Tommy Vext sounds like a proficient vocalist in his own right, but the clean vocal sections seem dramatically out of place in most songs on this album. Such misplaced melody is most poignant on the ballad “Closure,” which comes off as completely contrary to the album’s emotional release. Vext‘s yells are very well performed throughout the album despite occasionally coming off as a second rate Burton Bell, and it feels as though Bleed the Fifth would be much more focused if Vext did not switch vocal styles for what seems to be the sake of either being more commercial or emulating FEAR FACTORY. Although the metalcore influences feel tired in a scene where such songwriting has become nearly ubiquitous, there are a number of excellent, aggressive tracks such as the title track, “Failed Creation,” and “Impossible is Nothing.” The song “Savior Self” is especially excellent, but it is probably the worst offender in terms of sounding like a FEAR FACTORY B-side.

Ultimately, Bleed the Fifth has moments of very impressive songwriting and performance. However, it is imperative that Dino and his DIVINE HERESY co-conspirators expand their influences and songwriting to move out of FEAR FACTORY‘s shadow. While adding metalcore to the mix may gain immediate mainstream fan attention, it only helps ensure that DIVINE HERESY are more likely a trend to pass in the night rather than a steadfast metal stalwart who could remain as a force to be reckoned with. (Century Media Records)

DIVINE HERESY Announces Record Release Show; Completes New Video

DIVINE HERESY — the new band of former FEAR FACTORY guitarist Dino Cazares – will celebrate the release of their highly acclaimed debut album, Bleed The Fifth, with a special record release show at The Whisky in Los Angeles on Tuesday, August 28th. This event marks their second performance with new bassist Joe Payne (ex-NILE), so you definitely don’t want to miss witnessing them in this type of intimate setting.

Cazares states: “I began my musical career in Los Angeles and I felt that there was no better place to launch the debut release from my new band DIVINE HERESY than in my hometown. The Whisky is the perfect-sized venue for this record release show so we can get close to the fans and give them the most intense performance we possibly can. This is going to be a night to remember, and we look forward to spending it with our closest friends and fans. We hope to see you all there, and we can’t wait to hear people’s reactions to the new material.”

DIVINE HERESY recently shot a video with director Christoffer “Salzy” Salzgeber for the track “Failed Creation.” Look for it to make its debut online later this month. Also expect a major U.S. fall touring announcement in the coming weeks.

DIVINE HERESY has also posted three new videos on their official YouTube page, www.youtube.com/DivineHeresy, which features Cazares and Tim Yeung (drums) jamming the track “Bleed The Fifth,” in addition to an in-depth interview with Yeung.

Dino Cazares’ DIVINE HERESY Signs with Century Media Records

After a five-year hiatus, Dino Cazares (co-founding member of the revolutionary band FEAR FACTORY) has triumphantly returned with a new group that is quickly going to force the entire genre to take notice. This new band is DIVINE HERESY whose members feature Cazares handling guitar and bass duties, Tim Yeung (HATE ETERNAL, VITAL REMAINS) on drums and newcomer Tommy Vext on vocals. This band will redefine the true meaning of extreme with their Century Media Records debut offering, Bleed the Fifth, which is set for an August release. (The record will be released on Century Media in North America with Roadrunner having the rights to all other territories).

Be sure to check out the band’s MySpace page (www.myspace.com/divineheresyband) for additional info and snippets of the new tracks “Bleed the Fifth” and “Failed Creation” will be posted in the coming weeks.

Bleed the Fifth was produced by Dirty Icon (Logan Mader (ex-MACHINE HEAD, SOULFLY) and Lucas Banker) and co-produced by DIVINE HERESY. Dirty Icon and DIVINE HERESY also handled the mixing duties. Joachim Luetke (DIMMU BORGIR, ARCH ENEMY, MARILYN MANSON) has also created the album’s striking cover art, which perfectly compliments the music’s sheer intensity.

This offering is unquestionably Cazares career defining work and he states: “It took me four years to find the right musicians to make this happen and I’m very excited to finally unleash this to the world. Many people will be wondering what it sounds like, but it is hard for me to describe it. All I can say is when you hear the legendary machine gun riffs mixed with Tim Yeung’s lighting speed double bass drums combined with Tommy‘s brutal and powerful vocals, just be prepared to face the Annihilation. I promise you will not be disappointed.”

Tommy Vext states, “Approaching this I realized that I would have to bring a lot to the table working with such renown and accomplished musicians. Having everyone coming from different metal backgrounds was a challenge, but it is that exact formula that gives us such an eclectic sound. Also, having worked with vocal instructor Melissa Cross (Zen of Screaming) for the past three years I’d utilized those tools and exercises to push my abilities further than I ever imagined. I am so proud and excited to unveil this band to the world!”

The metal/hard rock world has been anxiously awaiting Cazares return since he left FEAR FACTORY and he will quickly prove that he was the force that propelled them to the forefront of the scene in the 90’s.