Divine Horsemen – Bitter End of a Sweet Night
I must admit I came to Divine Horsemen having been familiar with the affirming lead vocalist Julie Christensen (acoustic guitar/bgv). That aside, this continued return to the spotlight by Divine Horsemen gets off to a punky melodic crunchy start with “Memory Fails.”
There’s a small slice of the eccentric B-52’s in this performance but the circuitry makes all the contacts. It’s got what made this kind of music popular years ago. Divine Horsemen have guts, a tightly coiled showcase & controlled Swans/Michael Gira-like vocal intensity coupled with Julie – who isn’t as strange & out there as Jarboe but is a formidable player.
“Talking In Your Sleep Again,” with its gnarly Television via Tom Verlaine-Robert Lloyd razor-sharp slash of guitars works well. Like wine, this band only gets better. Divine Horsemen is a legendary L.A. band that returned to the modern-day battlefront after 33 years with dark-hued expressiveness.
Produced by Chris Desjardins (lead/backing vocals) the 16-track, 68-minute Bitter End of a Sweet Night (Drops Oct 27–In the Red Records) sometimes veers between a hard-edged melodic menagerie ala Concrete Blonde & Johnette Napolitano. But Julie has a tonality that contrasts the deeper-voiced Chris D. who cruises along as adeptly as Dead Can Dance (Brendan Perry/Lisa Gerrard) on their “American Dreaming.” But the well-oiled machinery of Divine Horsemen is wholly its own incisive work.
Julie’s perfectly suited reedy rock & roll voice (“Vanina Vanini”) is as attractive & challenging as Patti Scialfa. She’s vibrant. They perform with aplomb through their web of guitars & drums with aggressive sophistication & yet, when a violin sneaks in its haunting sound elevates the ambiance.
Both Julie Christensen & Chris D have a definitive lead vocal attraction. Effective solo & magical together. It’s the beauty of the compositions that are given life through the edginess that never gets dramatic or pompous. The songs are relevant & never allow their soundscapes to interfere with the atmosphere of the tracks. There’s angst sifted through aesthetics of power & perceptive elegance. Each song has a character, some are Hedy Lamar & others are Dwight Frye.
Julie maintains a film-noir tonality. Quite beguiling as evident in “The Next Man That I See,” & “Notorious,” – stunning work. There are classic rock bands & groups that came after them. Some survived. Divine Horsemen did. So, this one must be a classic rock band. Ain’t no dust on their wings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc5xUhwP57s
Highlights – “Memory Fails,” “Talking In Your Sleep Again,” “You Knew No Other Way,” “Vanina Vanini,” “Bitter End,” “The Next Man That I See,” “Murder of Courage,” “These Evils” & “Notorious.”
Musicians – Peter Andrus (lead, rhythm & 12-string electric guitars/acoustic guitar), Bobby Permanent (bass/bgv/2nd lead guitar), DJ Bonebrake (drums/percussion), Chris Cacavas (piano/organ/mellotron) & Elizabeth Wilson (violin).
Photo courtesy of their website & Frank Lee Drennen. CD @ https://divinehorsemen.bandcamp.com/album/bitter-end-of-a-sweet-night & https://divinehorsemen.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Video Premiere: Divine Horsemen “Any Day Now”