Division - Trinity 2004 Metal Ages Records reviewed by: EC
|Track Listing01. Eleventh Hour |
03. The New Elite
04. The Prophecy (Greed)
05. Echoes of the Past
06. Tapping the Vein
07. Left Behind
08. New Horizons
09. Trinity (No Exit)
10. Sea of Hate
11. No World Order
It has certainly been a long time since I've heard the name Division. I was on the band's bandwagon way back in 1996, with the group's debut record "Paradise Lost" seeing some quality playing time in the midst of my power metal rejuvenation. I've caught the band's enjoyable live show a time or two opening for bigger bands like Bruce Dickinson, King Diamond, and Iced Earth. The band seemed to have the proper skills and handled them well on stage. For some reason I lost interest in Division, along the way stumbling into more European regions for all of my power metal needs, while ignoring a good American band that finds it's home a mere three hours from my house.
Now the group has sparked my interest again, this time with new label Metal Ages knocking on my mailbox with Division's new record "Trinity". This actually marks the band's third effort to date, with my eyes and ears somehow missing the group's second album, "Ascension To Eternity" back in '98. Research shows that Division has now signed with Virginia's Metal Ages Records, and has incorporated a new vocalist into the fold. Scott Stewart is no longer the band's front man, replaced by new singer Nick Kelly. So what is "Trinity" like and how does it interest you, the ever exploring metal reader?
I will say for me, honestly, Division may be the "in between" band for me. No, I'm certainly not talking about Division fitting between good bands and bad bands. These guys were never middle of the road. Instead I'm talking about this band being the "division" between soft prog metal and fast, furious power metal. You see for me, I've always stayed clear of the groups like Kamelot and Evergrey simply because I like my metal to be slightly more aggressive. Sure, I like flowing melody just as much as the next guy, but I don't want it to carry me away. I want to be in charge, and good power metal has always seemed more preferable to me than progressive stuff, simply because it allows me, the listener, to stay more grounded. I don't get swept off my feet with timing changes and keyboard overload. Division successfully takes the good moments of progressive metal and put them into a power metal molding. They take the great melody and harmony found with progressive bands, and makes it slightly more aggressive and accessible to the average headbanger. These guys have no keyboards in their sound, and they don't have a squeaky clean singer in Nick Kelly. But they do retain a great sense of progressive songwriting and prowess, sucking the melodic aspect from prog and emptying it into the power metal streams.
At times "Trinity" sounds like a good Flotsam & Jetsam album, a little less thrashy than those guys, but still a good fit for that type of sound. The production on the record is really good, far surpassing the low-budget recording of "Paradise Lost". The rhythm guitar parts sound really dry, which isn't really a bad thing. If you are familiar with Iced Earth's sound on "The Dark Saga", then you will understand what I am trying to say. With "The Dark Saga", Morrisound did a nice job allowing Jon Schaffer's guitar parts to sound dry and crisp, while the leads and second guitar sound slightly flashier. That is what you get with "Trinity".
Nick Kelly is the missing ingredient in my mind, really taking the band into a more aggressive approach, while prior singer Scott Stewart was more of a rock singer. With this album Kelly really is a driving force, with his vocals sort of mid-range throughout, never really sounding like a "safe singer", but never hitting any highs or lows, and that is fine because it works on this record. He has great clarity with his voice, and you can easily understand every word.
Every track on this new album is a well thought out piece, with plenty of twin guitar harmony that really seems to recapture the glory of older bands like Sound Barrier and Q5. The band can sound American; evident on tracks like "Tapping The Vein" and "Masquerade", but at times they allow the European sound to leak through. The metal anthems "The New Elite", as well as the epic wingspan of "No World Order" are perfect examples of the European philosophy. This is just really good stuff and I can't say enough good things about it.
I really wish I could have heard "Ascension To Eternity" before hearing this record. I can only say this is a far more cohesive unit than the lineup I heard on "Paradise Lost". I will say the sound has improved by leaps and bounds from the debut, but I can't say for sure if it is a far cry from the second album, simply because I have yet to hear it. So in conclusion, Division has crafted a fine metal statement with "Trinity". The band is experienced, talented, and has the desire and focus to take things one step further next time around. The new vocalist is a welcome addition, and really the band is firing on all cylinders.
Highlights - "Tapping The Vein", "Eleventh Hour", "The New Elite", "The Prophecy (Greed)"