Mean Messiah – Divine Technology Review

As the regulars here may be aware, I’m a pretty big fan of Devin Townsend. The wacky Canadian has done a ton to develop my musical taste in my early metal-loving phase, where I was completely addicted to his classic albums Terria, Ocean Machine and Infinity, as well as Alien and City from his Strapping Young Lad years. One of the most idiosyncratic voices in the scene, there’s not many bands that draw from his range of styles to any significant degree. Sure, Vuur did, but Anneke van Giersbergen has collaborated with Devin so much she probably calls him Sensei. Well, industrial prog band Mean Messiah, confusingly signed to Slovak Metal Army despite being from Czechia, have met their muse in the master of mania. But can Mean Messiah make their own mesmerizing mark or might they get mired in marshes of misery?

Drawing directly from the Dev doesn’t really narrow things down in and of itself. Mean Messiah limit themselves to a mixture of Strapping Young Lad and his more life-affirming Transcendence and Epicloud style. It’s a weird dichotomy, manic aggression opposing triumphant zen semi-choirs, causing more whiplash than a bus from a BDSM convention getting rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. It makes for an eclectic listen, but it does work, thanks to the solid transitions and the consistency of the riffing. On the namedrop tour, you can also find Faith No More in the Patton-esque whispers on “Blood of Sirens/The Call,” and native language closer “Za Svetlem” is more prominently industrial, drawing from the likes of Nine Inch Nails.

As you can tell by this review, it’s kind of hard to avoid constant comparisons when the main inspiration is so obvious. Worse, most of the deviations from the formula are to the band’s loss. Love or hate Devin, his operatic baritone and vicious scream are top of the game. Mean Messiah’s vocals are… not. While the dry, core-ish roar is adequate in a non-intrusive way, the cleans are fairly flat and, worse, largely autotuned, which is the bane of my fucking existence. It succeeds at adding a slightly more electronic note to the music, which given its mildly industrial slant is not a bad thing, but it does so at the cost of sounding that much more like some early 00’s radio metal during the cleaner passages.

Songwriting-wise, things are a bit better. The riffs are catchy enough to be enjoyable, and the mood swings ensure that the album does not get boring. The performances, aside from the clean vocals, are pretty tight and there’s a lot of energy when the Strapping Young Lad mode is fully engaged. Those moments are when the album is at its strongest, and I get the distinct feeling Mean Messiah would work better as a straight-up death metal or deathcore band than what they do now. That energy is what makes tracks like the title track and “Thorn” that much more compelling.

I regret that I have to come back to the comparison to Devin all the time throughout this review. Every band sounds like other bands; it’s just the name of the game. Taking inspiration from one of the most recognizable artists around is certainly no crime, if you can put a different slant on the material and not just rip off another band wholesale. But though they try, Mean Messiah just doesn’t seem to be able to put their own face on the music without worsening it, and each and every way the two are put side by side, Mean Messiah wind up as the inferior version, the Antz to A Bug’s Life, the Oasis to The Beatles. There’s a lot of good energy here, and there’s enough skill to be promising, but only if they can carve their own path going forward. Divine Technology is just too much Devin Technology.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Slovak Metal Army
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: May 5th, 2020

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