Source: The Dutch Progressive Rock Page
Reviewer: Andy Read
Hailing from Philly in Pennsylvania, discovering Divided Sky has for me, been a little like a mole discovering there really is light at the end of the tunnel. I was just starting to get a bit disheartened by the lack of new ideas, fresh thinking coming into the genre this year. A few excellent albums, but very little that's struck me as refreshingly fresh or invigorating.
Then this little gem from out of nowhere came. Describing themselves as 'divergent heavy rock' this self-produced, full-length debut possesses a whole new shaft of musical thought and imagination that opens up a range of exciting possibilities for the genre.
In African/American vocalist Sean V Crisden, Divided Sky has a talented and distinctive frontman who captures the listener's attention through every twist and turn. Take the third track Missing Persons where he is able to mix the grit and edge of Nickelback's Chad Kroeger with a heavy dose of soul - shifting the pace and tone of the song effortlessly. Or try Diminishing Returns where he takes the raw soul of Seal and massages it into a beautifully heavy funk rock groove.
If they remind me of anything, it's the equally-promising Dutch upstarts Morgana-X whose demo I gave a 'DPRP recommended' earlier this year. Morgana-X have more direct and yes, catchy songs. But when I said that their overall sound was in need of a bit more dynamics, what Divided Sky have achieved here is exactly what I had in mind. Anyway I digress a little. Around Crisden, the band mixes some meaty riffs, some dynamic progressive sections, some jazz/fusion, a bit of ambience, some great funky grooves and even a bit of 80's disco. In between this musical Smorgasbord, there are some truly heavenly melodies that just demand repeated listens.
Spectral has some really great music spread across its 11 tracks. We begin with Grasp. It stands out at first by the clever interplay between some lilting acoustics and deep metal guitars that grind like an battered bulldozer. Then just as you think that's it, we enter a beautiful little acoustic interlude that reminds me of The Trees by Rush. Numb is short, sharp and very to the point - power pop built on a blistering riff but with another great little acoustic interlude that breaks it all up nicely.
Showing another end to the Spectral spectrum, Summer by Twilight is a ballad in the traditional singer/songwriter mould but with an inventive use of instruments and some nice female vocals that compliment Crisden well. The album centrepiece comes at the end. Images is split into four parts (creation/evolution/ascension/departure) and is the most progressive offering but again mixing heavy and light moods with a few more sublime melodies thrown into the mix.
Obviously not done on a big budget, Spectral is a little raw around the edges. But in a way, that adds to its appeal. And while some bands try too hard to be original and fall flat on their faces, Divided Sky manages to blend it all together in a mixture that's as natural as Granny's Christmas pudding.
Spectral is a diversely progressive album of originality, great musicianship and superb songwriting that has the potential to appeal to progressive rock and progressive metal fans as well as a more mainstream audience. The album is available from the band's website (www.dividedskymusic.com) and could be a good investment because this band has huge potential. Guaranteed a place in my Top 10 for the year without a doubt.
Conclusion: 9.5 out of 10