Darkness Divided’s sophomore record makes great use of its self-titled status. It’s a statement of intent, musically and lyrically, and what a powerful statement it is. The Texas-based band’s potential for greatness was laid bare withWritten in Blood, but it’s all fully realized here. Darkness Divided have regrouped, with some minor line-up shuffling, to create one of the most exciting and enjoyable metalcore records in a long while. One part As I Lay Dying, one part Within the Ruins, all parts awesome, Darkness Divided come out thrashing with their latest work of old-school-meets-new-groove metalcore.
Lyrically, the album’s theme centers around the cycle of one’s beliefs (innocence, contradiction, and reaffirmation), and it mirrors the music perfectly. The album comes out of the gate strongly and confidently. Then, “Misery”, a dizzyingly technical slab of groove-core throws a wrench in the protagonist’s belief system, ushering in more songs about questioning one’s beliefs. Then, the end of the record has a truly triumphant feel, quite reminiscent of early Avenged Sevenfold (in a good way!). It doesn’t hurt that guitarist Sebastian Elizondo’s solos are impeccable. His style recalls A7X surely, but he clearly comes from the Steve Vai school of feel over flash.
If there is a complaint to be levied beyond minor issues of too much chugging here and there, it’s that some of the choruses are a tad rough around the edges. It fits the music well (and truly works, after a few listens), but it’s definitely leaning away from the current trends in metalcore of squeaky-clean choruses. That said, this self-titled album is an overwhelming success, one that not only improves with each listen, but one that also is worth that type of investment. It clearly leans closer to metal than hardcore, with a strong thrash backbone, and that works well for the band. It’s great to see a talented band truly capitalize on their potential with such a successful sophomore album. (Nicholas Senior)