I heard a while back that Clemency was working on their follow up to Spiritual Domination. Despite some very inconsistent production, the band received a lot of feedback on their debut due to their brutal style of death metal, and also due to some confusing artwork. Well, not long after I heard the band was working on a new album, I heard that the band had broken up. Such is a familar story with many bands. One album and out. Much to my delight, I found out that this great Brazilian band had indeed finished their sophomore release, Divine Legions at War, and were set to release it soon.
Well, the album is now here in my hands. Upon first look, this seems like something the band put a lot of work into. The artwork is terrific with an elaborate CD booklet. I'm a big sucker for cool packaging so this album was pleasing to my eyes. They also have some really cool song titles like, "Echoes from the Abysmal Gates", "Scourge of Diabolical Kings", "Ascension of the Imperial Hordes"....very metal sounding! Upon first listen I've noticed that the production is no longer inconsistent. It's a very consistent listen throughout the album. Unforturnately, the production is not all that good. Maybe the band should've spent a few of those packaging dollars on some better sound.
The second thing I noticed was that the once three man band is now down to two members. Luis Carlos is now the main vocalist and while he has some pretty mean sounding death glowls, I'm not really digging his vocal style. Maybe it's just the mix, but his vocals just sound way too muffled...almost like a mix of Secretion and Cybergrind...well, not that bad, but you get the idea. The guitars licks seem like they should be great on this disc, but the production again holds them back. It's makes for a more thin sound instead of the thick crunch that would've been evident with better production. The drum sound suffers equally with the same treatment.
The musicianship is not really the problem here. The Clemency guys know what they are doing and are very talented, but the poor sound just robs the band of much of the aggression that you should be hearing. I'd hoped that after numerous listens I'd get used to the poor sound and end up finding more things to like about this disc, but I just never could get over the deficiencies. I think this could be a great disc if it was done justice in the production department. Instead, it just stifles the passion and aggression that should be making me drool over this and leaves me with a mind that tends to wander as the songs go on and I wake up later to realize that I just missed the last 2 or 3 songs.
The band ends the disc with a cover of Crimson Thorn's "Unearthed". What excited me when I saw it on the tracklisting disappointed me with it's falling way short of the awesomeness of the original.
You know, I still like Clemency and I hope they continue on with a third album. I think they definitely have the talent to do great things. I just hope that their next album isn't as big a letdown as this one was. Maybe I'm harping too much about the production. I usually don't do that so much. After all, I've heard MUCH worse production in my CD player lately. I just feel that this band has a bunch of potential and it's a shame that the sound had to hold back a good album. Call it a little bit of frustration on my part. This album is proof positive that bad sound quality can totally change one's view on a particular work of art. (Review by Matt)