There are many adjectives you can place upon Divergences, the debut album from Italian metallers Damned Spring Fragrantia, but the most accurate one is without doubt, savage. The album is primal predator, relentless, creatively skilled in the hunt and kill, and completely fearless in the lengths it will go to devour and annihilate. The ten track album is a brutal exponent of progressive metalcore/technical violence and irresistibly compelling, even as it corrupts every atom and synapse with carnivorous ingenuity.
Formed in 2006, the Parma quintet initially was a metalcore/deathcore confrontation. Line-ups changes helped shape and guide the band to the sound they were looking for and destructively lays awaiting within the album. With an invigorating technical animosity and progressive imagination to the still ravaging metalcore intent their sound is a monstrous capture of the imagination and now unleashed to consume on the world via Basick Records, Divergences takes what was started on the previous self-titled EP of 2010 on to another level. If you wanted to know what standing in the way of a tornado was like than slap this album on at the highest decibel, the only difference between the pair of viciously twisting maelstroms is that there is no merciful eye of the storm within the album.
As you can probably guess listening to Divergences is not exactly an easy or pain free experience but the damage and discomfort bred by the inventive sounds and deeply malevolent corrosion is simply delicious. For many listening to tracks singularly might be more to their liking but daring to endure the whole release in one full consumption with the songs rolling without a breath into the next brings the biggest and devastatingly impacting rewards.
Damned Spring Fragrantia, and with a name like that you have to ask if the band are hay fever sufferers as that would explain their massive musical irritability, go straight for the throat with brief opener Still Alive. Once fully unleashed it unloads towering rhythms and rapacious riffing upon the ear, their eight stringed guitars gnawing away with full voracity and drums cascading down like lead weights, it all prowled by the guttural squalling of vocalist Nicolò Carrara. It is short but impressively potent easily igniting an appetite before making way for the following A Common Tragedy. The opening melodic acid scrub is ok but soon left in the shadow of the tsunami of sonic vengeance from the guitars of Andrea Tinelli and Enrico Picari to follow, their flesh ripping riffs and searing melodic acid as intriguing and skilful as it is voracious and intrusive. Alone this impresses but with the rabidity of the rhythms from drummer Nicolò Ballabeni and the bass of Luca Marchi adding their distinctive and insatiable imagination to the continually twisted and scorching enterprise the song just ignites the fullest passion, and fears.
As the brilliant and lethally addictive The Obsidian Fate, a track with a hornet persistence and sonic sting to its venomous carvings, the excellent oppression that is D.M.Z, and the synapse condemning Pariah, featuring Charlie Holmes the vocalist of Heart In Hand, lay out their inventive and insidious presences and all with devil bred imagination and grooves to steal souls, the album just persistently rises to higher levels of impressive ingenious sonic spitefulness. Admittedly the surface of songs come in a similar hostility which can see tracks merge into one and pass by without notice if given simple mild attention, but add extra intent to your focus then the creativity and craft beneath the sonic squall is open and quite scintillating, it just demands extra work to fully discover.
The likes of Lost Shores, the rancour driven sonic toxin that is Drowned in Cyan, and the ravaging title track continue to bruise and sear the senses welcomingly whilst The Refusal Effect brings another immense highlight with its contagious melodic deception teasing whilst riffs and rhythms chew up and spit out thoughts and emotions with a technical vitriol and discord fuelled intensity. Imagine Meshuggah, Despised Icon, and the recently demised Livarkahil conspiring to leave your body devoid of hope and life and you get a sense of what Damned Spring Fragrantia staggeringly conjure.
With one final staggering inventive vendetta uncaged to close up the assault as the thrilling enmity that is Heritage, Damned Spring Fragrantia has unleashed not only one of the most exhausting and best debuts of the year so far but one of the best albums full stop. Divergences is plain nasty and strikingly intoxicating with its sonic and virulently malicious fumes.
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