Divided Sky
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Divided Sky

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Added: July 2006
Site: www.peacedogman.com
Reviewer: Death Metal Dougman
Score: 4 Stars

Divided Sky - Coming soon to a larger label for maximum exposure (hopefully).

I could easily see the TOOL comparisons being bandied about. The DON CABALLERO in the drums for sure. Three songs in and DIVIDED SKY take an unexpected turn into acoustic rock that is not too dissimilar to the mellower mid 70’s JETHRO TULL with “Sheep and Kings”. The fretless bass comes to life on “Failure” and it’s also odd how this track makes the best use of two guitar parts than the previous tunes. Keyboard flourishes pop up here and there. The two successive instrumentals “Bridge” and “Tremors” put the yin vs. the yang with acoustic vs. electric guitars.

It’s great to see a group that revels in their own musicianship, yet not succumb to self-indulgent wank. The one excess that DIVIDED SKY mine is the length of “The Subtle Art of Failure”. Shit, this thing is long! On vinyl, this would make the perfect two record set. I think that it would be nice to get a break. Reflect. Then flip the record over. A minor quip. The second half of “The Subtle Art of Failure” succeeds with the five part “Kaironomaea” which really crescendos quite unbelievably with “Figure 8”. This one is my fave so far. After a few repeat listens, that all may change. I see this disc like one of those movies that you notice something different each time with repeated viewings. Kind of the same way I listen to modern prog artist such as THE MARS VOLTA, 3 and COHEED AND CAMBRIA (to a degree). This ensemble should be on a record label for their next disc, but from the quality of this package I’m wondering if they need one.

- www.peacedogman.com


Source: www.ytsejam.com
Reviewer: Tommy Hash
Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The one thing about The Subtle Art of Failure is that it starts out on a chaotic note; basically these guys don’t waste any time getting down to it when it comes to playing out their brand of jam-band oriented metal. Jam band oriented metal?? Oh hell yes, I mean, you don’t necessarily want to simply pigeonhole these guys into the progressive rock vein. However, you still could (if you want), because of the music’s highly technical endurance and improvised compositional approach; so obviously there is action inundated into this music.

Heavy, grinding, and melodic; take Sylvan’s heaviest moments, some early Fates Warning, and Spiral Architect’s most tame moments, and the sound for thrash metal riffs along with the syncopated madness in perfectly in-tact. Looking at the record, cuts such as the schizophrenic heaviness of “Impermanence,” the sub-folk ala Anyone’s Daughter of “Sheep and Kings,” the neo-tinged jam session of “Tremors,” as well as the five-part conceptual piece “Kaironomaea” that make the record far from one of those saturated symphonic/neo related records, marking a good balance with both the musicianship and songwriting approach.

Pennsylvania’s Divided Sky prove that this record is anything but a failure.
- www.ytsejam.com


Source: Prog4you.com
Reviewer: Bob Rosenthal
Rating: 9 out of 10

"Spectral" is the debut CD from DIVIDED SKY, a four-piece band hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was released in 2002 on the band’s own Divided Sky Music label, giving them control of their music...and destiny.

From a quick glance at the instrumentation, it might be surmised that this is going to be a "crunchy, guitar-based assault on your senses" type band. Quite right! But it certainly doesn’t end there. The result is a collection of 11 tracks of hard edged, complicated music that redefines the boundaries of how jazz, classical and heavy rock can all fit together, in a new refreshing way. Many of the tracks run together, almost making this a concept piece. Points of reference would include KING CRIMSON (in their most creative period...which is most of the time), DJAM KARET and maybe PINK FLOYD, for the spacier parts.

In a bio from the band they state that DIVIDED SKY is "fronted by an African-American singer/guitar slinger which proves that rock music has no color barriers." I once asked Mike Henderson (another Afro-American guitar monster) of DJAM KARET how a black man winds up playing progressive music. "Cause I like the music" was his answer. Great answer... we tend to forget one Jimi Hendrix, who was certainly considered "progressive" in his own way and broke many musical barriers.

OK... the music. The CD begins with "Spectral I", a spacey tune with clanging guitars in the background as a "calm before the storm." But the resulting onslaught is not your typical prog metal fare. This "intro" leads into track 2 "Grasp" with a Fripp-style lead with a heavier riff as rhythm in the background. When the song gets to full throttle, it quickly pulls back into an acoustic vibe with restrained vocals (as if sung through a megaphone). The vocals remind me of Scott Stapp from Creed. Please... only as a point of reference here, as the music is much better. Creed was never this creative.

The rest of the CD’s diverse music moves effortlessly between oddly-metered prog metal, acoustic-driven jazz and rock, and ethereal spacey moods, often within the same song. And the mood of the vocals changes along with it. This is best demonstrated on track 10, the four-part "Images." Clocking in at over 10 minutes, it shows the band at it most varied. Overall, this CD is amazing in its ability to keep the listener’s attention, making you wonder what’s around the next corner. This is music for the future... but we have it today! So, here’s hoping for a healthy musical future for DIVIDED SKY!

Rating: 9 out of 10
- www.prog4you.com


Source: www.dprp.net
Reviewer: Andy Read
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Hailing from Philly in Pennsylvania, discovering Divided Sky has for me, been a little like a mole discovering there really is light at the end of the tunnel. I was just starting to get a bit disheartened by the lack of new ideas, fresh thinking coming into the genre this year. A few excellent albums, but very little that's struck me as refreshingly fresh or invigorating.

Then this little gem from out of nowhere came. Describing themselves as 'divergent heavy rock' this self-produced, full-length debut possesses a whole new shaft of musical thought and imagination that opens up a range of exciting possibilities for the genre.

In African/American vocalist Sean V Crisden, Divided Sky has a talented and distinctive frontman who captures the listener's attention through every twist and turn. Take the third track Missing Persons where he is able to mix the grit and edge of Nickelback's Chad Kroeger with a heavy dose of soul - shifting the pace and tone of the song effortlessly. Or try Diminishing Returns where he takes the raw soul of Seal and massages it into a beautifully heavy funk rock groove.

If they remind me of anything, it's the equally-promising Dutch upstarts Morgana-X whose demo I gave a 'DPRP recommended' earlier this year. Morgana-X have more direct and yes, catchy songs. But when I said that their overall sound was in need of a bit more dynamics, what Divided Sky have achieved here is exactly what I had in mind. Anyway I digress a little. Around Crisden, the band mixes some meaty riffs, some dynamic progressive sections, some jazz/fusion, a bit of ambience, some great funky grooves and even a bit of 80's disco. In between this musical Smorgasbord, there are some truly heavenly melodies that just demand repeated listens.

Spectral has some really great music spread across its 11 tracks. We begin with Grasp. It stands out at first by the clever interplay between some lilting acoustics and deep metal guitars that grind like an battered bulldozer. Then just as you think that's it, we enter a beautiful little acoustic interlude that reminds me of The Trees by Rush. Numb is short, sharp and very to the point - power pop built on a blistering riff but with another great little acoustic interlude that breaks it all up nicely.

Showing another end to the Spectral spectrum, Summer by Twilight is a ballad in the traditional singer/songwriter mould but with an inventive use of instruments and some nice female vocals that compliment Crisden well. The album centrepiece comes at the end. Images is split into four parts (creation/evolution/ascension/departure) and is the most progressive offering but again mixing heavy and light moods with a few more sublime melodies thrown into the mix.

Obviously not done on a big budget, Spectral is a little raw around the edges. But in a way, that adds to its appeal. And while some bands try too hard to be original and fall flat on their faces, Divided Sky manages to blend it all together in a mixture that's as natural as Granny's Christmas pudding.

Spectral is a diversely progressive album of originality, great musicianship and superb songwriting that has the potential to appeal to progressive rock and progressive metal fans as well as a more mainstream audience. The album is available from the band's website (www.dividedskymusic.com) and could be a good investment because this band has huge potential. Guaranteed a place in my Top 10 for the year without a doubt.
- DPRP


DIVIDED SKY - The Subtle Art of Failure CD '06 (Private, US)

Ok, point one: I refuse to get into another discussion on what the word "progressive" means. Point two: Regardless of what anything means, this Pennsylvania band is a damn good one and this is one helluva private release. Now understand one thing, nothing gets my blood flowin' better than a grimy cd-r thrown in a hand-made cover that comes out with all guns blazing, dripping in hairy distortion & loaded with 4-5 minute ditties about riding down the road in a Camaro while ragged double leads are firing artillery shells around my head. Thing is, that ain't DIVIDED SKY and that's ok too. The skinny on the mini? If you missed those great old days back in the late '80's, sitting around in the basement with a bunch of other music freaks listening to albums like Watchtower - "Control & Resistance," Sieges Even - "Life Cycle" and Coroner's first one, this is for you. Guitars sharpened like cardiologists' scalpels carve out razor riffs that at once amaze and still find a way to rock and blinding musicianship in general marry with threatening vocals & lyrics about things such as "The Welkin Eye" & "No Earthquakes, No Displacements." Icing to the cake comes by way of the unexpected such as the folk-ish leanings of "Sheep and Kings." Nice surprise here from the land of PA, where men are men & Dream Theater are scared. - Chaos Realm


Added: August 12th 2006
Site: www.seaoftranquility.org
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score: 4.5 Stars
Related Link: Divided Sky

Divided Sky is a great band that was formed in 1999, releasing their debut Spectral three years later. I have never heard that disc, but The Subtle Art of Failure, their new album, is simply astonishing. It should be pointed out right away, however, that it, like so many other underrated prog bands, takes a good many listens to fully impact the listener.

The Subtle Art of Failure is a great study in fusing all kinds of genres effortlessly in order to create a unique sound. Initial set of plays suggest Divided Sky are a band building their songs on a good dose of improvised jazz licks blended with highly aggressive metal riffage, pounding bass and drum awareness, and occasional atmospheric synth elements. The music is strong on melody and groove, but it is also filled with sudden shifts of dynamics, moving from fierce double bass drums and stomping guitars to slower, Tool-like arrangements. Vocalist Sean Crisden, who also shares the guitar duties with the talented Rick Banister, has a voice that may take some time getting used to, not because he is overtly weird sounding, but his enunciation and approach to melody is rather unconventional. The style of singing could be likened to that of the great Maynard Keenan, but even some die-hard Tool fans might disagree. I am also reminded of the NovAct vocalist, who was criticised by some for not sounding metal enough but actually has a very expressive and powerful singing style. Sean Crisden is also capable of injecting various styles into his singing, from very calm, clean sections to more aggressive, pain-ridden high registers, which match the flow of the songs perfectly.

Their music is rewarding both musically and instrumentally. Like a dangerous hybrid of jazz-inflected eclectism and crushing heaviness, "Impermanence" puts forth a thick guitar sound that immediately has me thinking of A Perfect Circle and balances the crunchy mix out with subtle acoustic excursions, spattering jazz cymbals, and off-meter grooves. The second track "Father" is both bigger in size and has a more prominent jazz backdrop to it. Blending synths and acoustic guitars in its intro, it is defined by weird shifts of dynamics and more slow parts that allow the vocalist's melodic wealth to shine atop neat acoustic segments. Towards the end, however, lots of jazzy guitar passages abound, combing bipolar tones, and even some drone-like soundscapess.

There is more to absorb on the album. The almost poppy vocals sung over humourous country music on "Sheep and Kings" brings to mind Faith No More's ever-changing musical nature. In the blink of an eye, the song slips into an freestyle fusion improvisation which was actually present in the mix since its start. It is just that the cheesy country guitars cut out and are replaced by a mix of piano, solo guitar and percussion. The band is unafraid to use acoustic guitars; they even have a cool instrumental interlude on the aptly titled "Bridge", which bleeds into the King's X funk of "Tremors" except that it is another instrumental. "Memory and Desire", a bit like the aforementioned "Sheep and Kings", also marries impossible sonics, but it is much heavier with its maniacal drum syncopation and demonic fretwork.

Following two midtempo songs, the band dives headlong into the punishing "Failure", a song that nearly sees the ten-minute mark. Blurry effects, bone-crushing metal riffs, addictive grooves and some industrial tones eerily evoke a combination of Tool and Meshuggah, as if they've secretly formed a new project and have also brought in some members from The Mars Volta to abuse their instruments. Scott Radway's tribal drumming and rhythmic development allows bassist Art Franklin to lay down a sturdy funk bass lick as sparse keyboards begin to swell simultaneously with Crisden's now nasally vocals. The experiment builds up to a tense breaking point, finally unleashing a drony guitar solo backed up by growling bass and pummeling drums. When the fury is over, everything retreats to its initial calmness and lets a spatial ambiance take the lead, with just single strokes of notes ringing every couple of seconds. This band writes their songs with immense control and definition, and "Failure" is one of the best songs I've heard all year.

From here on, it is all controlled chaos. The band's five-piece "Kaironomaea" masterwork is even more daring and progressive. From the industrial charge of "The Welking Eye"; to the wildly improvised funk of "Patterns"; to the more soothing jazz traces of "All We're Made of" (complete with cinematic effects); to the superb instrumental workout of "Cycles", their most technical and intense number; the band close the piece up with the vocal-based "Figure 8" in a sea of weird sounds and heavy drones.

Strange as it may seem, the last song "Coda" is evocative of the messages left - Sea of Tranquility


Date: 8/15/2006
By Epilepticgibbon


Man, these guys are good. I write this as someone who likes the idea of heavy prog rock in principle but often finds it disappointing in practice. Sure, a lot of these bands have the chops, but I cannot stand cookie monster vocals, I find the technical proficiency often comes at the expense of songwriting ability, melody, and/or a soulful sound, and lyrically these bands are often nothing to write home about. Let's be very thankful, then, for Philadelphia-based quartet, Divided Sky, who have come into an overcrowded scene and are already towering above much of their competition.

But are Divided Sky prog metal? Not strictly, I wouldn't say, though they do have many prog metal elements. The band have described themselves at different points as ambient, prog metal, prog fusion, post-rock, and more generally as heavy divergent rock or hybrid rock, an attempt to distill their assorted influences, which include heavy rock, jazz, pop and classical music.

On the whole, I don't think you could compare them with, say, Dream Theater they definitely have a metallic edge but tend to be a lot subtler than DT overall. I think two more appropriate comparisons would be King Crimson and Echolyn.

The Crimson comparisons come thanks to the musical complexity on display. Divided Sky don't generally sound like Crimson as such, but you could imagine Fripp and his buddies, perhaps from the Larks Tongues In Aspic era or alternatively from the 1990s, playing some of this very guitar dominated music, and it's only really the heavy metallic crunch that makes it just a bit too metallic to be Crimson. So again I stress, Divided Sky don't sound much like Crimson, but the music is so intricate and complex, with its constant shifting of gears and time signatures, and its effortless amalgamation of rock and jazz, that you could easily believe it was King Crimson. Yes, it's that good.

The Echolyn comparison is perhaps less obvious musically, though I do find Divided Sky's lead vocalist, Sean Crisden, to be rather reminiscent of the Echolyn vocalist, Ray Weston. I have no idea if this vocal similarity is entirely coincidental or intentional, but as the band never refer to Echolyn as an influence and don't sound that much like them otherwise I'll assume it's the former. As with my comparison to King Crimson, the suggestion of a similarity between Crisden's vocals and those of Ray Weston is meant to be entirely complimentary. Just as Divided Sky sound as musically tight and as compositionally interesting as Crimson, Crisden's rich, confident and clear vocal stylings put him into the same arena as the mighty Ray Weston, and it's this combination the band's impressive musical chops, their compositional abilities, and a great lead vocalist that enables them to stand out from most of their contemporaries. And one thing they are not, despite my clumsy attempts to compare them to other bands, is derivative.

But Divided Sky's confidence and quality belies their years - the band only began in 1999 and this is only their second album (the first being Spectral from 2003) - and their lack of label support (both DS albums are entirely self-produced and self-released).

But whilst the band are relatively new, the individual members have clearly been around for a bit longer: the aforementioned Crisden has been trained in classical violin, in addition to his fine guitar playing and excellent vocals, and has also spent many years as a session musician, while Richard Banister (guitar/vocals), Art Franklin (bass/vocals) and Scott Radway (drums and percussion; recently replaced by Jonny 'Chops' Henrich) all sound like superb musicians, providing impressive levels of power, intensity and finesse to the music. Also, note the general lack of keyboards, something else that makes me think of King Crimson, and just as with Crimson, the lack of keyboards does not prevent the music from being multi-layered and complex; in fact quite the opposite is true.

More about the music itself: the album is divided into sections - there are eight separate songs at the start of the album, followed by a five track epic called “Kaironomaea” (where each part has a separate subtitle – “The Welkin Eye”, “Patterns”, “All We're Made Of”, “Cycles”, and “Figure 8”), and then the album ends with “Coda”.

Of the opening eight tracks, “Impermanence” is a blistering opener but it doesn't shy away from being complex, playing with assorted musical textures and timbres, and setting both the tone and the standard for the rest of the album.

“Farther” actually sounds to me like a very heavy Echolyn track, and not just vocally either because there's perhaps something of Echolyn about the music too. Yes, this could almost be Echolyn meets Metallica, and I mean that in a good way.

“Sheep and Kings” is a great, melodic, primarily acoustic song, quite a contrast to the songs either side of it - it largely consists of acoustic gu - Progressive Ears


Discography

"The Subtle Art of Failure", 2006

"Spectral", 2002

Samples from both albums are available at:

www.dividedskymusic.com/media (download)

www.myspace.com/dividedskymusic (streaming)

Photos

Bio

DIVIDED SKY is a quartet of entities who feel it necessary to abandon the stagnating confines of current rock music and create a fresh and exciting vibrant hybrid of intense music. They have summoned a style of music that most have attempted to classify as heavy divergent rock or hybrid rock. What is that, you ask? It is a potent recipe for a veritable plethora of intelligent heavy rock, metal, jazz, pop and classical influences that make a very intriguing aural experience.

The band began in 1999 in a basement in Philadelphia as an experiment in progressive rock and quickly grew into a living entity bent on taking a different approach to crafting rock music. Divided Sky became an escape from the drab and sterile clone-like mainstream trends that plagued the airwaves.

Divided Sky cranks out prophetic lyrical potency seamlessly woven into a backdrop of varying contrasts of music ranging from serene beauty to total sonic chaos. The band dares to challenge the sensibilities of listeners with unconventional, often unpredictable rock music. Heavy, melodic, intricate and often insane, Divided Sky represents forward thinking music at its finest.

absorb.

accept.

embrace.