Pale DivineCrimson Tears Liner Notes
“Righteousness of Passage”
By Perry Grayson

© Copyright 2010 By Perry Grayson
[These liners originally appeared in an improperly formatted version on the CD reissue of the Pale Divine demo Crimson Tears. Paragraphing and formatting are correct here.]

Crimsontears Pale Divine - Righteousness of Passage | Cirith Ungol Online

1997 was a whirlwind year for me musically. At 22 I was poised to become part of the dual-axe attack in the prog/power metal outfit Destiny’s End. But ’97 packed a fiercer wallop all the more because it was the first time I heard Glen Mills, Pennsylvania doom metal masters Pale Divine. That first taste nailed me hook, line and sinker. Slumbering stock sound effects ushered in the opening blasts of “Morphia” on a plain cassette with a blue computer print-out cover. It bore merely the band logo and a silhouetted face. This was the tape that became the fabled Crimson Tears demo several months later. “Crimson Tears” kicked in, and the one-two punch was complete. Warm, crunchy guitar running the gamut from Glenn Tipton-ish stabs to Iommi-like dirges. Power-packed vocals with gravel, grit and a commanding disposition. Hey, a power trio even! I didn’t know it at the time, but Pale Divine axe-slinger/singer Greg Diener was still a teenager. Those guitar and vocal lines impressed me as the work of some seventies shaman risen from the dead. Regardless of his youth, Diener’s work was that of a confident natural. I was instantly entranced. The drums were swinging and meaty, a welcome departure from the clickety-click of modern metal—no over-reliance on triggers. Enter Darin McCloskey, keeper of the keen lyrics and Brian Downey-esque beats. I was pleasantly pummelled by a modern day band who could groove in full bell-bottomed ’70s bombast on one hand and on the other slickly succor with modern day doom shadings. McCloskey and Diener: the Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson of American doom metal!

I still remember recall where I was when Pale Divine’s tunes sank their teeth into me vividly—many beers and years later. Great catchy tunes have a tendency to freeze a space in time in my mind. Deft bands like Rush, Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Cirith Ungol, Pentagram and the like have a tendency to do that. So does Pale Divine! I was up in Northern California visiting friend Rob Preston, the man responsible for introducing me to heaps of obscure and raging heavy rock ’n’ metal acts. Though Rob and I are both freaks for long forgotten gems, it was Rob who got his grubby paws on Pale Divine’s demo. He dubbed it for me on the rear of a cassette bearing a bootleg of a ’93 Pentagram live gig at the Paragon in Virginia. I practically wore that tape out on the drive back to L.A., mainly due to the joyous PD jams.
Rob Preston fired a note off to Darin McCloskey, mentioning me raving about his band. That planted the seed for an underground metal friendship that endures to this day. When the shrink-wrapped copy of Crimson Tears arrived in the mail a few months later I revelled in the dark and foreboding artwork, one part Weird Tales pulp mag cover and one part Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Took time to digest the big thanks list, complete with Darin’s list of influential bands. The tunes themselves floored me on that initial listen. “Rites of Passage” begins with a sad clean-tone passage and some trippy wah-laden psychedelia. “Rise Above” is a driving track, exploring faster tempo territory. “Lord of Sorrow” is a crushing monolith of doom. The full-tilt boogie section in the middle of “Serpent’s Path” recalls early ZZ Top, complete with a very wicked guitar solo courtesy of Diener. McCloskey and bassist Jay Purnell lay down a foundation that will have any fan of heavy-ass rock stompin’.
Darin and I began chatting and emailing. No mere dunderheaded green globule on the drum throne, Darin struck me as a multi-talented musician on par with Rush’s Neil Peart or Heep’s Lee Kerslake. I’d always go on at length to him about how much I felt Pale Divine deserved some serious recognition.
5 Pale Divine - Righteousness of Passage | Cirith Ungol Online
Pale Divine’s perennial duo, Greg Diener and Darin McCloskey
To me Crimson Tears was one of those metal demos that quakes the underground with its inherent quality. Perhaps the way Metallica’s No Life ’Til Leather, Death’s Mutilation or Cynic’s Reflections of a Dying World did to others in the past. Yet, there’s something more energetic, exciting, urgent and lasting about Crimson Tears that causes me to revisit it and rekindle the flame. The musicianship, songwriting, production and even recording quality have a certain luster and muster that makes Pale Divine’s head peek out above the wasteland of faceless metal acts.
When I managed to get my foot in the door at Metal Maniacs—thanks to associate editor Jeff Wagner—one of the first things I did was pen a “Fast Forward” piece on Pale Divine. Bear in mind my early stock in trade at Maniacs was “Rewind” articles on cult bands like Bang and Cirith Ungol. I was dying for Pale Divine to get some much-deserved recognition for their towering talent.
Little did I know when I first heard Crimson Tears that I’d hit Darin McCloskey up to drum for my ’70s heavy rock power trio Falcon. But Darin was the first dude who came to mind. All due to his display of rhythmic righteousness with Pale Divine! In 2005 Darin gave me the opportunity to play bass in his band, this juggernaut that blew me away first in ’97. Pale Divine is now in its second decade of existence and evolving with each release. Now they’re a quartet. Rehearsing and touring with Darin McCloskey and Greg Diener in ’05 was a pleasure, one of those rare situations where everything seemed to fit like a glove. In a parallel universe that three-piece Pale Divine lineup is still slithering down the serpent’s path to destinations unknown…

pddsrcapture Pale Divine - Righteousness of Passage | Cirith Ungol Online
Pale Divine live at Doom Shall Rise III – Göpingen, Germany, April 2005
L-R: Perry Grayson, Darin McCloskey and Greg Diener
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