SOTO – Divak


Read the instructions carefully…

Review by Brian McGowan

e.a.r. music

Release: 1 April 2016

A year after ‘Into The Vertigo’, Jeff (Talisman/WET/Journey/Takara) Scott Soto is back, and, proving the label has a sense of humour, ‘Divak’ is scheduled for a 1st April release date. Berklee luminary and James Christian/Robin Beck guitar man, Jorge Salas, remains at the core of the band, as does influential drummer boy, Edu Cominatu, who’s co-produced ‘Divak’ with Soto.

Many rock and metal artists have classical pretensions. Thus this album opens with the instrumental title track, a scenic cantata in the mould of Carl Orff or of modern day movie score maestro, Hans Zimmer. The tracks that follow confirm that ‘Into The Vertigo’ was no aberration. Instead it was the sound of Soto recalibrating his music… a sonically enlarged departure from Talisman’s funk rock and WET’s melodic hard rock, a deliberate and significant attempt to reflect something darker, more aggressive. The clue is in the track titles…’Freakshow’, ‘My Darkest Hour’, ‘The Fall From Grace’ and so on. This is dramatic, high density hard rock…some might describe it as power metal…it is Soto the band at its fiercest and most undiluted. That in itself is to be admired, but much of the time the music falls into no-man’s land, unsure of its direction.

“Welcome to my new disaster, welcome to my pain”. This tortured lyric opening to ‘Weight Of The World’, added to Salas’s energetic, tightly woven riff promises so much – a post-grunge Alice Cooper perhaps – before the band lose their nerve and wheel out the heavy artillery. Hulking, stuttering riffs and the muffled thump of bass heavy rhythms seem to propel every track thereafter. Only a couple of tracks pull you onto the edge of your seat. ‘Paranoia’ suggests Soto learned a lot from Jason (Saigon Kick) Bieler, who guested on ‘Into The Vertigo’ and demonstrated that “memorably melodic” and “abrasively heavy” are phrases that can be used in the same sentence. ‘Unblame’ creates an alluring Progrock cornucopia of echos and whispers, driving riffs, processed vocals and a big, big sound. It’s a route that would have been worth following and, even if it did eventually lead to a dead end, the journey would have been interesting.

Elsewhere, only ‘Forgotten’ and ‘SuckerPunch’ swim through the gloom, before being shaken to pieces by seismic riffs and sonic turbulence. Cathartic, liberating, who knows? Power metal fans will likely seize on ‘Divak’ with glee. Fans of Soto’s previous bands should first read the instructions carefully.

6 out of 10

sotodivakcd350Track List:

  1. Divak
  2. Weight Of The World
  3. Freakshow
  4. Paranoia
  5. Unblame
  6. Cyber Masquerade
  7. In My Darkest Hour
  8. Forgotten
  9. Suckerpunch
  10. Time
  11. Misfired
  12. The Fall From Grace
  13. Awakened