~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Portugese quinetet Divine Lust's eponymous debut album 'Divine Lust' is, well... kind of odd, really. It's not exactly doom metal... definitely not quite hard rock... and is surely not progressive rock/metal. It is, however, a skillful blend of all those genres with a dash of their own secret ingredient thrown in for good measure. The lengthy debut offering from the band consistently evokes a melancholic but not entirely downcast mood, at once gothic but not depressing, wistful without becoming lugubrious. Overall, Divine Lust have offered up an ambitious and engaging album that, while flawed, will still capture the attention of listeners.
Divine Lust sets out to assemble a deeply layered sandwich of sounds, piling thick slices of synth-keyboard and piano on top of a meaty chunk of distorted guitar and a hefty slab of drums... then garnishing the whole affair with creamy vocals and a dash of black-metal-esque growling. The whole construction is surprisingly easy to swallow, and has a mellow taste throughout. Even when the tempo picks up and the action gets a bit more intense, the overall character of the music remains smooth.
The band's heavier moments are reminiscent of a slightly more tuneful Paradise Lost (circa Icon and Draconian Times, and occasionally their more recent material off of One Second and beyond)... or perhaps a combination of a less overwrought Type-O Negative and an unusually sedate Motorhead. The riffs that carry the songs along owe more allegiance to rock-and-roll than heavy metal, but don't veer close enough to either genre to warrant labelling the band as one or the other. At the same time, the keyboards and epic length of a few of the tracks lend the album a progressive air, but Divine Lust never fully veers into Rush or Dream Theater territory- sticking instead to the gloomier side of things. It's an odd sound, but one that is unique enough to hold the listener's interest through even the more ponderous moments on the album.
The most distinctive weapon in the Divine Lust arsenal is the voice of Filipe Gonçalves, which (to continue the Type-O Negative allusion) sounds like Peter Steele if he'd ingested some helium. Mr. Steele's voice is normally so subterranean that a helium balloon would take him to a generally mid-range pitch, which is where Gonçalves' crooning resides. In fact, on the band's website, Filipe lists Steele as one of his infuences/favorite performers. Their vocal approaches are very similar, particularly in the way both emote excessively at times. Gonçalves' performance is close to being derivative... but retains enough of its own character to avoid sounding like idol-worship.
My biggest complaint against the album is that the production is a bit flat. It lacks the gloss and polish that most commercial releases these days boast... which is understandable if you take into account that Divine Lust funded production of the album by themselves with no major label support. Nevertheless, their sound will improve considerably when they can afford more lush production values. The piano that is used continually throughout the album particularly suffers from this, and sounds more like a cheap synth reproduction of a piano than an evocative instrument that can convey the emotion of the compositions being played on it.
Aside from concerns over the production, I have few complaints. There are times where the band's performance feels a bit loose, and perhaps the album would have benefitted from trimming off a few of the duller moments... but those minor quibbles don't stop it from being enjoyable on the whole.
I'm looking forward to the day when Divine Lust is signed to a label (or become independenty wealthy) and can fully explore their artistic ideas without having to worry about financial constraints. By the time they release their next album, I suspect that the band will have more fully realized their sound and tightened up their performance... and will be ready to take fans of melancholic dark music to new levels of doomy delight.
*If you're interested in purchasing this album, you may have to contact the band directly via their website (and while you're there, check out some of the mp3 samples they offer).
Divine Lust Official Website: