By Adrien Begrand
For all the hype it received in 2007, Divine Heresy’s debut Bleed the Fifth was a major disappointment. Former Fear Factory/Brujeria guitarist Dino Cazares sounded completely out of ideas, ace drummer Tony Yeung sounded far removed from his days with Hate Eternal and Vital Remains, the album was cluttered with too many guest musicians, and worst of all, cloying vocalist Tommy Cummings pandered to “dood” metal thugs, alternating from obnoxious aggro barking to insipid “sensitive guy” crooning. The whole package seemed uninspired and was unbearable to hear, and when Cummings left the band after a very public spat in 2008, Divine Heresy came off as even more of a walking joke.
Somewhere along the way, though, Cazares righted the ship, for the follow-up Bringer of Plagues turns out to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the summer. Much more focused and disciplined this time around, the foursome sticks to a much simpler formula instead of overreaching: Cazares’s riffs are ferocious without sacrificing melody, while Yeung sounds absolutely rejuvenated, his throttling drums very prominent in the mix. The real revelation here, though, is new singer Travis Neal, who takes a completely different approach than his predecessor, going for less of a generic metalcore roar to a much more dynamic vocal style reminiscent of Devin Townsend, delivering brutal vocals with authority, but able to carry a tune convincingly at the same time. As a result, we get tracks like “Redefine”, “The Battle of J. Casey”, “Enemy Kill”, and the shockingly Iced Earth-esque “Darkness Embedded”, which skillfully walk the line between the punishing and the accessible.