Why does Pale Divine make me think of moonshine whiskey and the Appalachian mountains? Of rough, down-n-dirty bars somewhere on a lonely highway in a godforsaken valley. A place where the bearded ones dwell and downturned music plays on an old jukebox, fueled on a few dimes apiece. Only here we’re looking for that live gig on a tired wooden stage that has seen its best day already.
Well, I guess, because this is a band that plays their music like the lay of the land that surrounds them. This fuzzy, stoner-esque Doom Metal that really needs no introduction. We heard it once before, didn’t we? Or a couple of times more to be honest.
Well, Pale Divine‘s newest record Consequence of Time really got on our good side with their deliciously rumpled brand of proto-doom that still gets our juices flowing after all these years. A style that bands like Pallbearer attempted, but never quite achieved. Yet those were often hailed as flame-bearers1) for the origins of that doomster delight. Which makes the folks of Pale Divine come across as pretty underrated. Just sayin’.
The record sports a unique style that – in itself – knows no genres. All abounding heaviness that contains as much Blues Rock as it does all sorts of heavy metals. A tune that makes us remember the Ozzy-man in his woozy days, garnished with stellar solos that kinda reminisce what Iommi liked to do.
Yet this record is by far more diverse than its self-titled Sabbath clone of 2018 ever was. Diversification on melody and style (or genre) is one thing, of course, but the switch to two vocalists really made the difference. Today’s offering is by far richer and – in a way – more arcane than what this band delivered before.
A somewhat hypnotic beat that solemnly marches forward on its slightly sludgy limbs. Somewhat of a mixture of River of Souls, Gypsy Chief Goliath, coupled with some remnants of the good ol’ grind of St Vitus.
But, boy, we already lost ourselves in this oldish pseudo 70s soundscape of theirs after Tyrants & Pawns (Easy Prey) storms forward in its full retro splendor. That’s the track with this ever-returning riff that accompanies the chorus so well. Oh, and before I forget it, this absolutely delicious solo in there just reigns supreme.
You will not find a lot of material on Consequence of Time that would even remotely qualify as mainstream. But as often is the wont of the label, at least one track needs to be presentable somehow for the mean masses. And this time, that’s Satan in Starlight, a Sabbath-esque2) journey to times when Hard Rock was sexy and metal was young. Yet, Pale Divine managed to inject enough rough oomph into this track to please modern ears as well.
But the filet piece of Consequence of Time truly is Phantasmagoria. A sludgy, mid-tempo doom piece that fascinated the hell out of us with its slightly off-kilter vocals and mystical airs. And this on a simple song structure that lends new meaning to Stoner Doom.
But here’s to an enigma.
For long stretches, this record does not necessarily sport that look and feel of proper doom. Instead, it mostly comes across as some sort of slow-motion Hard Rock3) with a medley of early heavy metals thrown in for good measure. Some sort of pre-dawn metallurgy, forged in a way even the aforementioned Black Sabbath never achieved. That some progressive elements suddenly made an appearance just played to the underlying theme.
Indeed, Consequence of Time sounds like something from the early days of metal of the last century. And Pale Divine hail from that era, albeit that their 25-year history only just barely qualifies.
If their aim was to stand out from the doom crowd, then this is mission accomplished. And Pale Divine did this not by inventing something new. But instead, they presented a somewhat archaic, multifaceted piece of doom that pretty much predates what is on offer today. And by doing that, they created a novelty of sorts. One that this team here took a lot of pleasure to devour.
Yer Doom is Olde! But – by Jove – its taste does please that metallic palate of ours. Consume without moderation.
Ed’s note: If you enjoy early doom, you might also want to check out our piece this one.