Monday, March 31, 2014

Pale Divine - Cemetery Earth 2-CD Reissue

Pale Divine has a very special place in my heart. Ever since I heard their debut, 'Thunder Perfect Mind', this Pennsylvania band has been one of my all-time favourites. And thats's not a small accomplishment considering they are rubbing necks with Thin Lizzy, UFO and Rush. The follow-up, 'Eternity Revealed', only increased my fascination with the band and when 'Cemetery Earth' was originally released in 2007 my love for Pale Divine was well and truly cemented. Unfortunately the album has been out of print for a few years, so when the good people at Shadow Kingdom Records announced the release of this enhanced reissue I just about had a heart attack. 'Cemetery Earth' is one of the most complete recordings I have ever listened to and for it to be available again is...well life is back to good!
This gem comes in the shape of two discs. The first is the album proper in remastered shape while the second disc is full of demo songs and live recordings. As a diehard supporter this type of deal is a treasure chest indeed, but in all honesty, if you have never listened to Pale Divine before the second disc might be overkill. A remedy for that is available though and quite a simple one at that. Plug disc 1 over and over again and let these maestros mesmerize, captivate and absorb you with their magic. When that is accomplished disc 2 will make so much more sense. On the other hand, if you already worship at the altar of Pale Divine you will revel in this holy grail.

Great albums comes around ever so often but few have the qualities that makes them timeless. Those qualities differs album to album but they are all tied together by sheer excellence. And that means the songwriting, the production and the performance are of the highest standards. 'Cemetery Earth' is one of these gems where everything the band touches turns into gold. From the magnificient opener 'The Eyes Of Destiny' to the excellent closer 'The Conqueror Worm' Pale Divine's other-wordly amalgamation of 70's heavy rock, psychedelic blues, heavy metal and doom simply oozes class and 7 years after it's original release it is still as vibrant and amazing as ever!
The lyrical themes focuses a lot on death and misery as well as questions about life and our existence. The slow, bluesy but thunderous 'Soul Searching' and the riff fest that is 'The Eyes Of Destiny' are prime examples of this. For the fomer, death and misery, 'Cemetery Earth', (I Alone) The Traveler' and 'Broken Wings' are hauntingly beautiful tales of despair. It doesn't get much better than this. In fact, the title track is one of the best songs ever written if you ask me.

"Walking like the living dead their faces cold and gray.
Sickness to insanity they watch their world decay.
Soldiers of misfortune tell me what is your life worth.
Buried and forgotten in this cemetery earth."

Greg Diener, vocals & guitar, and Darin McCloskey, drums, started Pale Divine back in 1995 and their long partnership is so evident on this album. What I mean is they know exactly where they have each other. Therefore, every chord, riff and solo, every drum pattern and every single word comes so natural which subsequently keeps the music at such a nice flow. Taking their time and not rushing things might be a key element in all this I honestly don't know, but I do know this album is genuine work of art.
Assisted by bass maestro John Gaffney paid dividends as well since his thick, thunderous sound and style of playing appears more like a second guitar than a regular bass. And that's a trademark of the band. Greg obviously takes the centre stage being the singer and guitarist, and he does so magnificiently, but the rhythm section doesn't operate traditionally. Instead, both Darin and John goes off on their own excursions, maybe not doing proper solos but they step away from constantly being rhythm masters. Listen to them closely and you'll hear passages where they are playing along with Greg rather than simply backing him up.

Disc 2 starts of with Demo 2006. It consists of 5 songs that all made it onto the proper album: 'The Eyes Of Destiny', 'Broken Wings', 'Cemetery Earth', '(I Alone) The Traveller' and 'Fire And ice'. Definitely in rough form being a demo and all, it is really exciting to hear them in this shape. There is a clear difference between the demos and the completed songs, but already in these early stages you can hear distinctly what was to come. The disc ends with 3 live songs recorded in Pittsburgh in 2011. Two of them are from 'Cemetery Earth', '(I Alone) The Traveller' and 'Soul Searching' making it three appearances on this release for the former. These renditions are great as always showing the band in excellent form before leading into a cover of Marmalade's 'I've Been Around Too Long'. Maybe not your first choice for a cover but that's Pale Divine for you, they never take the obvious route and that's another trait that sets them apart from rest. Their version is how you should do a cover: keep enough of the original and mix it with your own sound.

To tie it up with the beginning of this review with Pale Divine being one of my favorite bands I suggest you get all of their releases. These guys deserve higher recognition if anyone does. However, if you have never listened to them before this reissue is the perfect introduction. If you're into metal period and 'Cemetery Earth' doesn't rattle your bones I don't know what's wrong with you because this is as good as it can be.

- Swedebeast

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