Diviner_Fallen EmpiresGreece loves heavy metal. This is known. From symphonic blackness to cheese-coated, dragon and sandal power silliness, they’re well represented as fans and performers alike. Now Diviner joins the eternal fight to defend the faith with their Fallen Empires debut, weaponizing a kind of traditional metal with deep roots in the mid-80s American scene. Eschewing most Euro-power frills and fruit paste, the band pledges fealty to the gritty style pioneered by the likes of Manowar, Jag Panzer and Helstar, and continued by new generation warriors like Iced Earth and Visigoth. This approach means you can count on three things: the music will strive for righteous trveness, it’ll pack plenty of muscle, and there’s absolutely nothing here you couldn’t have heard during the Reagan Presidency. Call it chronic nostalgia or stubborn narrow-mindedness, but I’m comfortable with all three conditions.

The title track kicks off the war march in rousing style with meaty, crunchy riffs and gravelly, Dio-light vocals from Yiannis Papanikolaou. Their style reminds me a lot of Remnants of War era Helstar with some Visigoth mixed in for added nutsack. It’s no-frills and extremely direct but it works like a charm. The solos sound as if they were lifted off Painkiller and everything screams classic metal. And they never leave the little niche they build for themselves as becomes apparent on fist-raising, unicorn gelding anthems like “Kingdom Come” and “Evilizer.”

“Riders From the East” injects tasty Maiden gallops and guitar harmonies into an epic tune full of battle lust, perfect for sacking nearby strip malls, and “The Legend Goes On” goes heavy on the Manowar cliches and testosterone with solid results. The wildly inappropriate ESL stumble “Come Into My Glory” will likely earn many unintentional guffaws live, but it’s a solid tune with a good chorus despite exceptionally cheesy lyrics like “mystic signs are calling from places so magic, you won’t believe your eyes,” which I assume refers to Disneyland. Elsewhere “Seven Gates” delivers a thick, Iced Earth riff attack and some urgent vocals from Yiannis

There are no bad songs here and the level of writing is impressive over the course of the album’s 50 minutes. The songs are all simple in design but effectively build to good or very good choruses while featuring solid riffs, harmonies and hooks. You can tell the band worships this kind of metal and that love bleeds out in every note. That’s why this is a deceptive album. On first blush it’s such a simple, meat and taters metal platter that it’s easy to dismiss, but it quickly worms its way into your good graces and earns more spins than you’d expect.

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This is a very guitar dominated album and the ready-to-rumble riff work makes the songs hum and pop. Thimios Krikos and George Maroulees deserve credit for keeping the energy level high though most of the material is mid-tempo. They manage this by crafting one classic metal riff after another, each guaranteed to unsheathe the Sword of Poser Intimidation. Though they keep things pretty heavy, there are the inevitable nods to the NWoBHM in the riff-work, especially Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Yiannis Papanikolaou’s vocals are the perfect grease for the 80s war machine, sounding like a mix of Dio and later period Eric Adams (Manowar). He gives the music sufficient grit and spit to make even exceedingly corny lyrics sound tough and sincere, and he’s skilled at elevating his delivery for the big, rabble rousing choruses.

This is one of those little, late year releases you don’t hear much about, but it has a lot to offer us defenders of the old and trve. If you miss the glory days of 80s metal or just need something to spin as you sharpen your axe and gird your loins, Fallen Empires will certainly hit the spot with a few flaming arrows of Spartan anger. Take that, Gloryholehammer!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Ulterium Records
Websites: divinerband.comfacebook.com/Divinermetalband
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2015

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Ha ha, “Gloryholehammer”! Good one, despite the dig at one of my albums of the year. However, that sounds more painful than pleasurable. Wish I could see the picture, but my work firewall is blocking funnyjunk-dot-com.

    As for the music, sounds like “Immortal blood courses through [their] veins!”

    • Lasse Momme

      Gloryhole-hammer sounds like the name of a severely acne challenged grindcore band from northern England.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Also, there would be Hostel III samples on the record.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    This summer… mystic signs are calling from places so magic, you won’t believe your eyes.

  • I like that the band photo was obviously taken after they sacked and destroyed The Shire.

    • Feytalist

      I quite like that the front guy is wearing his own band’s shirt. Now that’s class.

    • Achilleas

      I was reading this comment and laughing with tears! Never thought that the Greek countryside looks like The Shire after being sacked!

  • I wasn’t sure right away whether the tone of this review was indicating approval or mocking the band. Well done sir.

  • tomasjacobi

    “Come Into my Gloryhole”

    • Shangsean

      That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the title of the embedded track. Perverted minds think alike.

  • Κώστας Ξυπολιτόπουλος

    Good to hear good words for greek bands, we don’t have that many known bands even though the metal scene is insanely big here.

    • BaboonKing

      I quite enjoyed last year’s Psycrence debut album. Beyond that, I know of Firewind and Until Rain… any other good band worth checking out?

      • Κώστας Ξυπολιτόπουλος

        The big ones are obviously Septic Flesh and Rotting Christ. Very well known bands.

        But, the one that needs to get all the attention it can, is called Hail Spirit Noir, go listen to the first song of their debut ” Mountain of Horror ” .. seriously, its very good.

        • Ernesto Aimar

          Hail Spirit Noir is simply fantastic.

          Naer Mataron was another good black metal band from Greece.

        • cirkus-lizard

          Don’t forget Battleroar. Blood of Legends was probably my favorite album from 2014. To Death and Beyond was fantastic also.

        • JL

          Aenaon is another amazing Greek metal band that deserves your time.

      • sir_c

        I liked Tuber with their Desert Overcrowded album. And there are a couple more bands which won’t pop up due to some beers.

        • BaboonKing

          Sounds good! Thanks for the heads up.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    This guy is obviously a big power metal fan.He always gives these types of bands high marks.

    • I do enjoy some, but not all power metal.

      • Martin Knap

        I like all of it: the kind played by dudes in puffy shits, the kind played by dudes in vests with metal plates, kevlar or whatever on it, as well as the kind where all band members dress like David Duchovny in Californication.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Oh, we got both kinds, Power AND Metal!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          You mean Fox Mulder gone into hiding?

  • Elton Chagas

    Great vocals!

  • Elton Chagas

    It’s like Ronnie James Dio doing vocals for Iced Earth!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      That would be epic!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        And it can ALMOST be done. It’s just a matter of getting Jon Schaffer to hire Nils Patrik Johansson.

        • Mikko Ojanen

          I’d rather NPJ joined with someone who can actually still write good songs, really

        • doom-erik

          Or the singer in Helker from Argentina. Never heard anyone with a voice so similar to Dio anno 1985.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Never heard of them. Will have to check them out.

          • doom-erik

            Not me either, until I read the review of their latest album on this very site! Must have been a while back though. Pretty nice album, anyway.

          • doom-erik

            Or was I mistaken, because I can’t find the review here now… Anyway, “Somewhere in the Circle” in the album title.

  • Now this is kind of Power Metal I can get behind (ahem).

    Gloryholehammer is too cheesy for my tastes, even if it is done in the most gloriously self-aware manner.

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    Just got done listening to the record through… excellent. I really like the blend of modern power metal and old school metal. Vocals, music, melodies, production, it all works well. Would have given this a 4.0.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The Sword of Poser Intimidation? You should have called it the Sword of Poser Decapitation. That way it´s more intimidating.

  • Siege Bantayan

    That Dio-esque voice. I still miss him to this day..

  • Achilleas

    Pretty solid album and very good review! Power metal has become a joke for the last many years, but it’s good to see that there are groups that still take themselves seriously and put some effort in their music. The vocalist is the best voice we have in Greece. This guy became a monk for some years (around 15 years ago), but fortunately the Metal God won him over at last!

    • Bryan Stroup

      “Power” metal of the European variety has mostly been a joke for the last twenty years aside from a very few select bands. There’s a reason it’s called “flower metal”.

      I haven’t heard a truly good power/traditional album since Wolf’s The Black Flame. This album however sounds pretty good upon first listen.

      • Achilleas

        I agree with you. IMHO, power metal – mid-80’s to mid-90’s – was the best metal subgenre ever. That’s why I am disappointed, because it went down so suddenly and with no hope of returning because of the apparent saturation. True that US power still delivers some diamonds every now and then (most recent I recall is Riot’s “Immortal soul”). To my ears, Diviner sounds more influenced by US power than by european “flower” :-)

        • Bryan Stroup

          Oh, I agree. I suppose my comment might have been a bit ambiguous on how I feel about this band. I was just replying in general to your comment about how you felt about the current state of power metal.

          Diviner does sound more like the Iced Earth brand of power metal, but with some actual solos (something they stopped doing after Burnt Offerings for the most part) and with vocals that sound like a cross between Dio and Rob Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus).

          Side note; somehow, while researching Diviner, I also stumbled upon a band called Judicator, which happens to be a US power metal band that sounds a hell of a lot like pre-bloat Blind Guardian, but maybe slightly heavier. So if you like that kind of power metal, I highly recommend checking out Judicator’s At the Expense of Humanity. It’s amazing. The vocalist also sounds about as good as Hansi in his prime.

          AMG needs to review that album for sure.
          edit: I guess I could be describing Persuader, and I guess they do kind of have similarities, but I think Persuader might be a bit thrashier.

          • Achilleas

            I didn’t find it ambiguous, it’s always fun to have these discussions and jump from one band to the other. Judicator will be checked, I listen to a track called “God’s failures” right now and it’s really good! From Diviner’s album I think that “Seven gates” really stands out.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Checked this album out the other day after a friend recommended it. Real surprise this one, i agree at first you think its standard fare but then realise quickly its much more than that. The singer sounds like Dio and there is enough heaviness/variation to make things interesting. A band to watch.

  • broukios

    Very nice….
    Finally a real metal band from greece with clean vocals