Reviewed – Divided By Design – Orion I: Denial

Rating – 4.5/5




‘Orion I: Denial’ is part one of an upcoming conceptual series of tracks from Leeds prog-rock group Divided By Design; it’s a composition that draws on classic progressive sounds of the 70s and 80s as well as incorporating modern elements of metal. The five minutes instrumental is a rollercoaster of dynamics, shifting from brooding ambient swells to chugging, low string riding riffs. 

The opening harmonics ring clearly over a sparse backdrop of atmospheric tones before descending into a crash of cymbals, dense heavy guitar and driving bass. The ideas range from slow, thoughtful melodic lines to breakneck runs with sweep picking; there is no obsession with playing fast for the sake of it, rather it’s added as a compositional element. Thet track winds its way seamlessly through varied musical terrain, ranging from clean picked ideas to heavier, faster-distorted playing. 

The guitar work is excellent, jumping between handling the melodic passages and rejoining the rhythm section for interspersed passages; similarly, the bass playing is tight with the drums and mirrors the melodic work of the guitar with some especially tricky playing during the slower guitar sections. The drum work in the middle of the track during the breakdown is frenetic and does a fantastic job of creating fizzing, brutal energy with blistering pace.

Progressive styles of music have always lent themselves towards the virtuosic players, as a genre it tends to want to push boundaries, explore new ideas and involve complicated playing; thankfully Divided By Design have the chops to execute their ideas. Even more impressive is the band is set up as a trio of guitar, bass, and drums; not only do they tackle a notoriously difficult and unforgiving musical style, but they do it with the confidence and the sound of a much larger band. When Rush was performing in their early days the idea that three musicians could create soundscapes of that size and quality was generally unthinkable; in the modern era Divided By Design seem to relish the challenge set by their influences and rise to it with aplomb.

This is an exciting track with plenty of interesting ideas for prog veterans to sink their teeth into, yet it’s also an exhibition of musicianship; the music school background of this band is clearly on show. Oh and there’s even a ‘Halloween’-Esque breakdown section in the middle, so grab your Michael Myers mask and headbang to your heart’s content.

Review by Theo Wildgoose

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