The Blood Divine
Rise Pantheon Dreams
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
The woeful, forlorn vocals of Darren White were what immediately appealed to most fans of Anathema’s early work (“Serenades,” “Crestfallen,” and “Pentecost III”). Whether it was his dejected spoken word parts or the anguished suffering that animated his growls, his voice was the perfect crown to Anathema’s depressive majesty. When Darren parted ways with the band, he formed The Blood Divine, and Anathema progressively moved away from their bleakly romantic Doom metal roots into sedate Floydian and Radiohead influenced pastures. To many it was a marked improvement, but to most it was a most unfortunate loss. Anathema was never the same without Darren White, and for whatever small minority of Doom fans there are across the globe, we had our sights set high for The Blood Divine to fill the void that Anathema’s change in direction was to leave.
The band’s best tracks and some studio outtakes have been conveniently compiled on this collection by Peaceville Records late last year. Sadly, only shades of Darren’s former glory can be heard in the music of The Blood Divine. While I hate to do dwell on the past, I can’t help but compare The Blood Divine with Darren’s work with Anathema. There are several similarities, and even the title of the album could be a suggestion that The Blood Divine was a continuation of what Darren started in Anathema.
(In the liner notes of “Pentecost III,” the final Anathema release Darren appeared on, fans were informed that a follow up entitled “Rise Pantheon Dreams” was coming soon. That album was never released, or perhaps more likely, it was released under the title “The Silent Enigma” with Vincent Cavanagh’s debut vocal appearance? This, is just miscellaneous trivia for the discerning Anathema fan…but I digress)
Darren’s voice is much more rough around the edges, and lacks the ghostly vulnerability and painful grandeur that existed in Anathema. But primarily, his musical backdrop is not nearly as poignant or as colourful. The Blood Divine is a decidedly though perhaps not so successfully ‘rockin’ band, as exemplified on the clumsy Cathedral-esque “Visions In Blue” and on the brief confusing forays into metallic punk on unreleased tracks like “Revolt” and “Forever Belongs.” The Blood Divine do however have their moments of convincing gloom, as on the moody magnificence of “As Rapture Fades,” the melodic ballad “Wilderness” and on the nine minute epic “So Serene.” While all of those aforementioned songs are interesting and descent slabs of Gothic Metal, “The Passion Reigns” succeeds even more where other tracks do not in that the band sounds disciplined, reserved, and much more focused. Darren’s vocals are moving yet suitably restrained, and the song’s complex arrangement of haunting pianos, lulling bass lines, and dreary guitar harmonies atop its shuffling rhythm is quite impressive.
But the main problem with The Blood Divine was that their music was too fragmented and they were all over the map, and they never seemed to settle on any specific direction to take the band. This compilation is interesting and noteworthy to fans that would like to investigate Darren’s career after Anathema. While not one hundred percent fulfilling, it definitely has its moments as a good third of the songs possess a great deal more substance than other Goth Metal bands currently available for public consumption. Ultimately, this release is a tragic testament to what could have been. But perhaps it may also represent what could be, if The Blood Divine decides to reapproach their sound with a greater sense of focus and a more concrete goal. Whatever the case, it was a treat to hear Darren’s voice again and I am sure several fans of his work with Anathema will find something of value in this disc.
The Blood Divine is:
The Blood Divine – Official Site: