[11th December 2011]
Divided By, to be honest, is beyond confusing. Musically it’s derivative, splicing all the obligatory breakdowns, insanely fidgety guitar fills and utterly indiscernible vocal growls into 3 minutes that leave you reeling and slightly nauseous after a listen. Yet with all that said, it’s clearly not just a matter of tonality, a trait that often plagues the techno-fuckery associated with the djent/metalcore/deathcore splurge; there is composition here that evidently has been approached with refreshing originality. The songwriting verges on furious puerility and the lyrics are systematically angry but not completely apathetic. The reason, however, why this album is one huge mindfuck is because while there is some obvious thought at the composition end of the creation process, the production is damagingly shoddy.
This isn’t a point to linger on because there is good, frenzied and sparingly intelligent musicianship here, but the dreadful clipping and the levels that are amped up beyond belief are almost an album ruiner. It’s an astounding oversight by everyone involved in the creation and release of Divided By. It’s hard to get past this, but once you do there is some distinctly intriguing and satisfying music, compounded by thick grooves and edgy, petulant guitar work; the clean vocals aren’t derogatory and follow Dillinger Escape Plan’s sporadic meanderings, making themselves a refreshing inclusion.
“At Las[t],” as an album opener, is notably marred by this production and filled with one bass drop in particular that shattered my skull and sent bone fragments through the back of my retinas. And not in a good way. “Hydroplaning” is a sonic mess, a garbled conglomeration of everything ever; the lyrics are fucking inane and nonsensical, and the general impact of the song never leads to a peak, although the clean vocals stepping in three-quarters of the way through are a welcome addition to this otherwise indistinct five car pile-up of a song.
“Encounter…” is better for its shouted opener and decent riff that follows, but we’re soon led into shambolic territory again. The fury of this output is lost in the constant exaggeration of its sound; it’s all well and good to be pissing frenzied sulphur onto everything, but without proper construction and balance, the meaning will ultimately become lost. “Paralyzed__” (enough with the underscores, slashes, and needless puncuation) does a decent DEP impression in replicating a twisted impression of sanity in its sound, and wanders around like a deranged lunatic that finds his abrupt end at the bottom of a cliff.
There is redemption for this album because “In Pursuit Of” and “Clockwork” feel more complete and less rambling; it’s apparent that the progressive hikes that a band like Structures demonstrate point to the more technical and intricate end of djent, but they fall flat throughout Divided By. The more complete songs pull this Canadian band towards a saving grace that can almost redeem them. Songs like “I.N.T.E.N.T.” are audibly furious and go balls to the wall, giving The Acacia Strain a run for their money in the misanthropy stakes, and use the vocal variation effectively. The album finishes with the catchily titled “/,” a noticeable pace reducer and filled with vocals that obviously exude the kind of ‘teenage angst’ that everyone still sneers at but still definitely understand, no matter the age. The final half of the song erupts again, but unfortunately finds little purchase.
Bottom Line: It’s unfortunate that Divided By gets the raw deal from such abysmal production, but even with that aside, there’s not enough that is original here, and even less gives you a real reason to stick with this record. The second half, however, is notably better than the first, but ultimately, Structures falls prey to the self-consumption that is so common within this increasingly rotten metal genre.