Divine Disorder
Garden of Dystopia

So I get an email from Jassem “Darkvain” Alrumaidheen, the bassist, keyboardist and clean vocalist for Divine Disorder, a symphonic/progressive death metal band from Kuwait, requesting a review of his band’s 2014 release, Garden of Dystopia.

I normally politely pass on 2014 releases at this point, but the press release he sent got my attention; A host of guest musicians helped create this album from Karl Sanders of Nile and Christopher Malmstrom of Darkane providing some solos to Kevin Tally (Suffocation , Misery Index, Dying Fetus, etc.) performing the drums as well as a plethora of guest orchestrators, soloists and vocalists (including Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Paulo Rossi). I immediately get a vibe of Kalisia, a French supergroup with an equally large number of guests who released one of 2009’s most stunning albums, and a future classic – Cybion.

Lo and behold, my instincts were correct as further correspondence with Alrumaidheen reveals that Kalisia‘s vocalist /guitarist Brett Caldas-Lima actually mastered this release (as well as Katatonia‘s Jens Bogren mixing). And thus the circle is complete, and when you press play on Garden of Dystopia, the Kalisia vibe springs to life, albeit with an expected Middle Eastern gloss.

So does this army of guests make the album worthwhile? Well sort of. While certainly the Kalisia comparison is apt as Divine Disorder play an almost identical form of big, excellently produced and rendered, ambitious, concept themed melodic death metal with oodles of synths and progressive leanings, it leaves a little to be desired in the songwriting department, though still a very competent and enjoyable release that drips confidence and skill.

11 songs, 1 hour and all of them rife with big brash keyboards, choirs and tons of shifting, solo filled riffs and dueling clean (from many a guest) and growled vocals. Other than one interlude, every song is chock full of chunky, soaring melodeath riffs and ambitious structures, but there is little that stays with you. Other than maybe the more brutal “The Puppeteer” and “Children of Menace”, the album is largely empty calories; fulfilling, tasty and certainly enjoyable, but lacks those certain riffs, moments or songs that elevate the album into much more memorable pastures.

Certainly Alrumaidheen and co know their way around the instruments and have the ambition in their songwriting to make Divine Disorder something special in future, but there just isn’t that song here or there to reel you in and blow you away. Cinematic, choral opener “Pandoras Codex”, “The Arcanist”, “The Serpent”, Arabic “Animus” and 9 minute closer “Rusted Libra” all display a deft grasp of solid melodic death metal steeped in progressive and symphonic elements, but just lack those hooks to make it special. Also, other than the aforementioned closer, the concept never seems rooted in the music where you feel the story’s emotional peaks and valleys.

That all being said, the band’s desire, ambition and skill all point towards something special in the future (some of the albums songs are 2-4 years old). They are really close to becoming a truly brilliant band with or without the guest musicians and I’m looking forward to hearing more from this tantalizing project in the future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 20th, 2015


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