By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY – In terms of longevity, Calgary has no longer living metal act than Divinity (though props go out to Forbidden Dimension, who hold that title in punk realms). Formed in the summer of 1997, they’ve outlasted every act to emerge from the city with their technically proficient, emotive melodic death metal. Created by vocalist Sean Jenkins and guitarist James Duncan, they’ve endured the rigmarole of the music industry to emerge as proudly independent, and that’s just fine by them.
“Since we’ve been pushing the same band for 20 years now, there has been all kinds of ups and downs and everything in between,” begins Sean Jenkins, the vocalist and designer for the band (the band also contains a second vocalist, their former bassist Jeff Waite). Jenkins formed the project with Duncan just out of high school; both have been part of the project ever since.
“In the first 15 years of it, we were very hungry for success. Honestly it was never ‘full-time’ because we’ve always had day jobs and other commitments but we did manage to put in a full-time effort. We would practice three to four times a week for three to four hours a time for years and years and this was a major reason why we were able to achieve the things we did. We released our first full-length album [2007’s Allegory] in 2006 independently and within six months of that release we were signed to Nuclear Blast. This wasn’t by chance!”
The band followed up the release with a slot on 2008’s Summer Slaughter. Candlelight Records later picked up the band for their second offering, 2010’s The Singularity.
“The thing with getting signed is… is it’s extremely hard staying signed. We found that there [was] all kinds of opportunities coming about once [we were] signed, but it didn’t mean all the expenses and costs were easily taken care of. We simply could not sustain that kind of a situation and it created all kinds of turmoil within the band.”
Rather than remain on the industry wheel, Divinity struck out on their own to get back to doing what they enjoy: making tunes at an unrushed pace. The result was a series of EPs, including The Immortalist – Pt. 1 – Awestruck (2013), The Immortalist – Pt. 2 – Momentum (2016) and The Immortalist – Pt. 3 – Conqueror (2017), earlier this year. Now those three releases are compiled into a full-length dubbed The Immortalist, which is available on CD and digital download. Despite each EP being a stand-alone piece, as a whole they make a cohesive statement.
“The trilogy EP concept was something we came up with in 2011 after things fizzled out with Candlelight Records in 2010. We thought it would be a good way to release new music more often than a creating a full-length album all in one shot,” explains Jenkins of the unusual release strategy.
“This was also because we decided at that time to no longer pursue major labels or any labels for that matter… We realized that being independent was what worked best for us.”
Their style of very technical melodic death metal is extremely clean and organized, and has changed little in the past decade – with the exception of how it’s produced.
“We have definitely gone on a huge musical journey creating these EPs and the final all-in-one full-length. Each EP would exponentially improve upon the last in regards to song writing and recording production, because we had decided to take on more and more aspects of production, except the final mixing and mastering,” explains Jenkins.
“However, we would also make sure there was cohesion between the EPs because we knew it would all come together as a full-length. The biggest connection between it all is the lyrics are all built around a sci-fi concept story of a character who figures out how to become immortal. So each song talks about a specific part of the concept story.”
Musically, the album highlight just might be “Hallowed Earth,” as it slows down the onslaught and features a substantial dose of melody. Reminiscent of Strapping Young Lad’s opus “Love?”, it showcases a different side of Divinity.
“I’m glad you hear the Strapping Young Lad influence! [They] and Soilwork are our biggest influences for sure. I am going back and forth on the songs “D.M.T.” and “Conqueror” as to which one best showcases our new album. I have to say “D.M.T.” is something very special to us because we managed to get guest vocals from Björn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork on that song, along with Jeff and I doing vocals too. It was all recorded in different stages but to hear the final song with all of us playing along with Bjorn is just fucking awesome!”
Now on the cusp of their Calgary release party, the unit known as Divinity is better than ever.
“Five years ago or so, we decided that we were happiest as an independent band doing our thing completely on our own terms. This brought out our original love of simply playing heavy metal.”
Divinity will perform at their album release party September 22 at Mercury Room with Expain, Immunize, and Skepsis (Edmonton) and September 23 at Distortion (Calgary) alongside Expain, Plaguebringer, and Sonder. You can listen to their album online at https://www.divinity.ca/.Distortion, Divinity, Expain, Immunize, Mercury Room, Plaguebringer, Skepsis, Sonder