Dead and Divine - The Fanciful (Cover Artwork)

Dead and Divine

The Fanciful (2008)


I love writing a good review for an album that's deserving of praise, but I love trashing crappy albums and bands even more as the latter seems to receive more positive and commercial attention from the media and fans alike than the former. Now, the guys in Dead and Divine have played my town twice now, and are quickly becoming the latest craze amongst angst-ridden teenagers and scenesters, with the band's recent signing to Victory Records only adding to their momentum. To me, being handed their The Fanciful record was like tossing a lamb to a family of hungry wolves; I could not wait to (sadly) sit through the 40 or so minutes of over-dramatic hardcore tarnishing, tear it apart and expose it for the joke it truly is. However, Dead and Divine does a fairly decent job themselves on their MySpace alone, describing themselves as...

Aggressive, Melodic, Intense, Hard, Emotional, Heavy, Driving, In Your Face, Fancy.

That's right, Dead and Divine is not afraid to call themselves fancy, or even call their new record 'The Fanciful.' Jumping away from cliché metal bands in their scene, Dead and Divine has created another lyrical masterpiece with ‘The Fanciful'. 'The Fanciful' refers to the imaginary and the unreal, reflected in the album concept by the constant struggle between reality and illusion, heaven and hell, and passion and misfortune. Honest, thought provoking, and unafraid, Singer/Lyricist Matt Tobin sings with a Morrissey-like fearlessness and attitude, and with a maturity that goes well beyond the bands average age of only 20. (...) With influences ranging all the way from Poison the Well to Paramore, and Smashing Pumpkins to Blue Rodeo...
Good God, where do I start here? Ten-plus years of "melodic metalcore" and the genre is still going ass-backwards and has only dumbed down since its inception by bands like Poison the Well (who has since left the genre far behind). The mere fact that a metalcore band would describe themselves as fancy is laughable, but to compare themselves to the likes of Morrissey, Blue Rodeo and Smashing Pumpkins is tantamount to sacrilege. They also go on to list a bunch of adjectives we've heard used before by the cliché "-core" bands that D&D allegedly is trying to "jump away" from. Seemingly, one does not have to look past the band's MySpace biography to catch the punchline. But enough with D&D's self-glamorizing and self-importance -- let's get down with the actual music contained on The Fanciful, which, in a vast sea of melodic and metallic hardcore bands that claim to be the heaviest thing going, is everything but.

Apparently, The Fanciful is an "epic tale" of light and dark, good and evil, heaven and hell -- aspects of the universe that cannot exist without its complete opposite. Maybe I didn't care enough to delve into the lyrics further, but this theme is lost in its sloppy lyricism (though they mention the word "devil" a hell of a lot throughout the album), but is still quite evident in the actual music writing, as many trite metalcore groups like D&D tend to trendily tie together many styles of heavy music with their antagonists. It's all here on The Fanciful: heavy one-chord mosh parts coupled with melodic guitar solos, angry vocal roars backed by tender crooning, short bursts of technical and intricate rhythms followed up by slow and straightforward hardcore beats, douche-y tour haircuts and bad tattoos clothed in fashionable Rockett shreds. Obviously, D&D follow the same played out trends a million other MTV2 "punk" bands are. The difference is that D&D fit the cookie-cutter mold so perfectly it almost seems unreal (or fanciful!), and completely discredits the very write-up sampled above. The Fanciful shows no signs of jumping away from any cliché, but rather dives in headfirst and encompasses a scene that is a cliché itself.

The Fanciful may be a new record by Dead and Divine, but the band is still using decade-old tricks to get noticed by young girls and boys who can't wait to waste their allowance on albums about teenage problems written by adult males, as well as attract the eyes of the commercial schmucks who propagated this trend in the first place (ahem...Victory!). However, their reputation as being self-absorbed, horny, 16-year-old boys stuck in 20-year-old mens' bodies will hopefully hinder their success than further it. One can only hope that this trend dies off to give way to the hard-working and innovative bands that still tour this great planet of ours in the name of honest and true punk rock.