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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Review: Niviane – The Ruthless Divine

Label: Pure Steel Records

Date: October 30th, 2020

Californian power metallers Niviane are back in game with their second album ″The Ruthless Divine″ released today, on October 30th, 2020 via Pure Steel Records.

Niviane took a big step to the world of metal in 2017 with debut ″The Druid King″. Compared to their debut, ″The Ruthless Divine″ is bigger, better, heavier, accelerated; feel free to use any superlative you can remember to finish this sentence.

Although labeled as a power metal band, I would not say it is necessarily power metal. At least not the power metal I know. ″The Ruthless Divine″ is nothing more than a collection of eleven purest heavy metal anthems. Eleven? Coincidence or not, their previous album also included eleven songs. Overall, the album is based on up tempo, great guitar riffing and thunderous drumming. But, the first thing that bought me is that old school vibe that album carries on its back. Norman Skinner with intent or not took the best from Matt Barlow slash Rob Hallford slash Tim Ripper Owens slash Chuck Billy  to create his own singing style. If you haven’t heard Niviane before, focus on vocals, because Mr. Skinner besides clean singing can show you a lot more. The man can scream, growl, whatever it takes in order to produce magic. The range of his vocal abilities is astounding. I have read somewhere that he is called “metal chameleon”. An absolutely merited epithet!

Besides vocal diversity, we can talk about music diversity too. Each song is full of twists. As an intelligent schizophrenic, the sound goes from calm to furious and everything is well composed and fluent.

Mark Miner and Gary Tarplee are perfectly synchronized. Their energy creates a perfect heavy atmosphere. Harmonies and solos are absolutely unnecessary to comment. Great job, done good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest music virtuoso’s. Although it may be noticed that the drum overpowers other instruments, the lead instrument is actually a vocal. Along with choral sections and guitar solos and harmonies, this album exudes a nostalgic sound. Rustic but modern at the same time.

As I see, ″The Ruthless Divine″ brings keyboards delivered by Aaron Robitsch, but no worries. If you don’t like keys, Aaron did a great job, so he does not bring any cheasy elements with his instrument. Almost imperceptible keys perfectly fit to the album sound.

Dramatic choirs in “League of Shadows” and in the background of the song “The Ruthless Divine” as well as in the “Sinking Ships”, powerful scream in “Crown of Thorns” as well as narrative part similar to Mille Petrozza in Kreator’s “Fallen Brother”, growls in “The Ruthless Divine”, clear, deep, almost gothic vocal interpretation in “Niviane” and “Psychomanteum”, Chuck Billy’s influenced growls in “Niviane”, “Sinking Ships” and “Like Lions” or a choral toasting of drunken brothers in a bar before its closing will not leave you indifferent.

Surprisingly, there are no classic ballads and to tell you the truth, I don’t miss them at all. Still, the album slows a bit with “Forgotten Centurion”, one of my personal favorites.

As I wrote, Niviane is not the band that can be easily labeled. It has elements of pure heavy metal, of course power as well as thrash metal. If you ask for variety, variety they bring!

Speaking of variety… Besides vocal range, playing with the genres, lyrics also bring a wide range of variety. As Norman Skinner said in an interview for our magazine: “For inspiration I get it from everywhere. TV, Books, my family and friends, interactions, personal experience. I am a sponge.”

Album cover signed by Dusan Markovic reflects the album content: a warrior standing over a sea of men with a wielded sword outside a castle. For me, Niviane are the true metal warriors and the best sword they can use is their music! The album is an executioner!

It is extremely hard to pick just one song in the sea of, as I might wrote, potential anthems, but for the cost of life I would say it is “Forgotten Centurion” as well as “Sinking Ships”.

Two months until the end of the year, and I doubt a better album than Niviane′s “The Ruthless Divine” will be released.