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divided sky

Date: October 2003
Reviewer: Bob Rosenthal

"Spectral" is the debut CD from DIVIDED SKY, a four-piece band hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was released in 2002 on the bandís own Divided Sky Music label, giving them control of their music...and destiny.

From a quick glance at the instrumentation, it might be surmised that this is going to be a "crunchy, guitar-based assault on your senses" type band. Quite right! But it certainly doesnít end there. The result is a collection of 11 tracks of hard edged, complicated music that redefines the boundaries of how jazz, classical and heavy rock can all fit together, in a new refreshing way. Many of the tracks run together, almost making this a concept piece. Points of reference would include KING CRIMSON (in their most creative period...which is most of the time), DJAM KARET and maybe PINK FLOYD, for the spacier parts.

In a bio from the band they state that DIVIDED SKY is "fronted by an African-American singer/guitar slinger which proves that rock music has no color barriers." I once asked Mike Henderson (another Afro-American guitar monster) of DJAM KARET how a black man winds up playing progressive music. "Cause I like the music" was his answer. Great answer... we tend to forget one Jimi Hendrix, who was certainly considered "progressive" in his own way and broke many musical barriers.

OK... the music. The CD begins with "Spectral I", a spacey tune with clanging guitars in the background as a "calm before the storm." But the resulting onslaught is not your typical prog metal fare. This "intro" leads into track 2 "Grasp" with a Fripp-style lead with a heavier riff as rhythm in the background. When the song gets to full throttle, it quickly pulls back into an acoustic vibe with restrained vocals (as if sung through a megaphone). The vocals remind me of Scott Stapp from Creed. Please... only as a point of reference here, as the music is much better. Creed was never this creative.

The rest of the CDís diverse music moves effortlessly between oddly-metered prog metal, acoustic-driven jazz and rock, and ethereal spacey moods, often within the same song. And the mood of the vocals changes along with it. This is best demonstrated on track 10, the four-part "Images." Clocking in at over 10 minutes, it shows the band at it most varied. Overall, this CD is amazing in its ability to keep the listenerís attention, making you wonder whatís around the next corner. This is music for the future... but we have it today! So, hereís hoping for a healthy musical future for DIVIDED SKY!

Rating: 9 out of 10

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