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Album Reviews : Divine Ascension – Liberator

By on January 30, 2015

Divine Ascension - LiberatorFollowing the success of their debut album, ‘As the Truth Appears’, Melbourne’s Divine Ascension have released ‘Liberator’. One of the most prominent things I can say about this album right off the bat is that it proudly wears its influences on its sleeve. Taking cues from its forebears, the music of Dutch bands Epica and Within Temptation rings strongly through the compositions on this record, and in the choral and epic nature of the arrangements. No less is this true than in Jennifer Borg’s vocal performance. It is not difficult to ascertain the clear influence witnessed in her vocal interpretation. For example, on the tracks “Stronger” and “Sorrow’s Sacrifice”, Borg sounds remarkably similar to Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation. Whereas on tracks such as “Crystal Tears” are shown hints to the influence of Simone Simons (Epica), also.

By no means is any of this a bad thing, however, nor is it to the detriment of Divine Ascension, either. In fact, these influences add a real sense of authenticity to Divine Ascension’s music, but one that isn’t merely mimicking its predecessors. Rather, Divine Ascension stands out as a band that is further pushing the boundaries of the progressive and symphonic metal genres. Borg is a sensational vocalist and the depth to her range is one of the aspects of ‘Liberator’ I adore the most. She lines every lyric with a sense of emotion and clarity that is simply uncanny to listen to. Her voice drips with the power and dark beauty of a wilted rose, yet one that still blossoms and thorns. Her impeccable performance is supported by a rhythm section that is overpowering in its use of synths and orchestrations, yet remains sharp and crisp in the mix.

Speaking of the mix, that is one of the other standout elements to this album. The production is virtually flawless at every turn, and perhaps most interestingly, no one song stands out more than the rest, or feels misplaced or uneven when compared to the others. This isn’t to say the tracks themselves aren’t good. Rather to the contrary, actually. The eleven tracks that comprise ‘Liberator’ feel as a whole: the pieces to a clean, balanced puzzle. It seems as if that to garner the most rewarding and fulfilling experience from this album is to hear it as a whole, in one sitting. A single song on its own doesn’t do enough justice to the outstanding work and effort that has clearly gone into both the making of this recording and its production in the studio.

There is so much happening on this record, but none of it ever feels bloated or lost. The richness of content on ‘Liberator’ is its strength, not its burden. Whether it’s in the consistently impressive vocal showing of Jennifer Borg, the emotionally impacting keys of David Van Pelt, the symphonious overtures, or the gorgeously melodic solos and guitar work, ‘Liberator’ is a feat of imagination and musical ingenuity. An album worthy of every piece of praise it’s given.

It is honestly proving difficult to find fault in this record, and it still takes me aback to think this album was recorded by a band from the city I grew up in. As an album ‘Liberator’ is on the same level I’d expect from a high-budget record coming from a renowned European band, and being distributed by Nuclear Blast or something similar. Yes, this album is that good.

Reflecting on that last paragraph for a moment, it seems a shame this band doesn’t have more exposure. You can trust my word here, or you can purchase the album and see for yourself. I guarantee you’ll gain far more from the latter.

Band: Divine Ascension
Album: Liberator
Genre: Progressive/Symphonic Metal
Year: 2014
Label: Vicisolum Productions
Origin: Melbourne (VIC), Australia
http://www.divine-ascension.com/

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.