Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Dogs Divine - Size Of The Fight

The Dogs Divine
Size Of The Fight
Mortal Music

Some bands can spend years building up a following before finally getting a break, but then there are some that seem to have all the luck go their way, just by being in the right place at the right time. And for Springfield (Illinois, U.S.) based hard rock outfit The Dogs Divine, it was the latter.
Formed in 2007, the four-piece outfit were snapped up by Chavis Records after a single show soon after forming, with their Paul Crosby (Saliva)/Chip Z’Nuff (Enuff Z’Nuff) produced debut effort ‘Way Of Life’ hitting the streets in 2008. The album was well received, and the with tours alongside L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Five Finger Death Punch, Blackstone Cherry, Drowning Pool and Non Point soon after the album’s release, the future was looking bright for The Dogs Divine.
But then everything started to unravel. The line-up of the band changed, the band were let go from their label and the prospect of releasing a second album was looking bleak. Yet through sheer perseverance, the The Dogs Divine regrouped with a solidified line-up (Vocalist Tom Hart took on bass duties, and along with original guitarist Karl Von Heilman III, recruited second guitarist Jim Hart and new drummer Jeremiah Ross), signed with Mortal Music and have finally delivered their second full-length effort ‘Size Of The Fight’. It was hardly a groundbreaking release, but ‘Way Of Life’ was at the very least a solid and entertaining listen. So I was looking forward to ‘Size Of The Fight’. Unfortunately, the album is a bit of a letdown.
The opening track ‘Dogs’ is a solid enough track, and one that gives you an idea of where The Dogs Divine’s sound is some three years after their debut. The band’s sound is a little heavier, and Hart’s vocals appear to be a little rawer and aggressive than anything in the past (Almost taking on a Phil Anselmo sound at times), but the strong chorus and meaty riffs still stand out as the band’s strengths. ‘Overnight Sensation’ is another driving track that retains the best elements of the band’s past, but with a heaviness and aggression that has made its way to the surface of the band’s current sound, but things start to slip around the third track ‘FDLF’. ‘FDLF’ (Otherwise known as ‘Fuck Dancing Let’s Fuck’) reminds me of a Mötley Crüe leftover with its terrible lyrics, and Hart’s rough and ready vocal delivery don’t help matters one bit. It’s a shame, because on the music side of things, there’s the making of a really rocking song.
The southern rocking ‘Gypsy King’ does raise the bar higher with Hart showing that when needed, he can lose the gravel stuck in his throat to add a little more soul to the songs, but the Pantera-like ‘Hell Wouldn’t Have Me’, the Saliva sounding ‘One And Only’ (Complete with the ridiculous rap/vocal delivery) and the good, but out of place cover of Queen’s ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ (From 1975’s ‘A Night At The Opera’) only weaken the album.
It’s not all bad, as the rhythmic ‘Brand New Addiction’ and the driving ‘Join The Crowd’ do rise to the heights of the opening pair of tracks on the album, while the acoustic/violin (Provided by Anna Acosta) based short instrumental ‘Gussie’ (Dedicated to Hart’s grandfather Gussie Cary) is well put together. Unfortunately, the album closer ‘One For The Ages’ lets the tail end of the album down with its cliché ridden lyrics and Hart’s struggle to hit some notes.
In the end, ‘Size Of The Fight’ is too patchy sounding, and missing some of the sheen and melodic tendencies of the band’s debut. Don’t get me wrong, The Dogs Divine can still write a solid hard rock song, it’s just than when it comes to performing in the studio, ‘Size Of The Fight’ just doesn’t stack up against their debut. Overall, The Dogs Divine’s latest effort is good, but far too inconsistent to really enjoy from start to finish.

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© Justin Donnelly