Divine Empire

Method of Execution

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Arguably, the Scandinavian countries have become to death metal what New York City is to jazz and Chicago is to the blues -- not the place that invented it, but the area that is the most closely identified with it. A death metal CD collection that is devoid of Swedish and Norwegian bands would be like a collection of electric blues that excludes Chicago residents -- in other words, inadequate. Nonetheless, there have been countless blues artists of merit who never lived in the Windy City -- and similarly, acknowledging Scandinavia's importance to death metal doesn't mean downplaying the contributions of American bands ranging from Slayer in Los Angeles to Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Obituary, and Malevolent Creation in Florida. One band that helped keep the Florida death metal scene alive in the late '90s and early to mid-2000s was Divine Empire, who maintain their love of vicious sensory assault on their fourth full-length album, Methods of Execution. The band's 2005 lineup goes for the jugular on this 58-minute disc, which unites former Malevolent Creation members Jason Blachowicz (lead vocals, bass) and J.P. Soars (guitar) with drummer Duane Timlin. Although Methods of Execution is a Florida-style death metal CD first and foremost, there are a few curve balls here and there. "Impervious Deception" and "Kill the King" (not to be confused with the Rainbow/Ronnie James Dio classic) both combine Florida-style death metal with Norwegian-style black metal, and "Prelude to the Storm" is a two-minute instrumental that is surprisingly pretty (in a melancholy way) and has a strong East European folk influence. But "Prelude to the Storm" is hardly typical of Methods of Execution on the whole -- and 95 percent of the time, this album thrives on harshness, brute force, and claustrophobic density. Although not essential, Methods of Execution is a decent outing that will appeal to Blachowicz and Soars' die-hard fans.

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