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Pale Divine's Greg Diener: "The river will flow in the path that has been carved for it. Whether it flows strong and wide or trickles and dries will be revealed in time but it is not for us to decide"

Interview with Greg Diener from Pale Divine
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 22 June 2020, 10:41 PM

Time, what is time? It is a factor of life, part of the circle, perhaps the manager of things, the hand in hand with fate. Tomorrow isn't certain, and there is no idea what it will lead. So much mystery and we carry on, most of the time without asking why and how. For Pale Divine, nothing was set, as for all of us, but after 25 years, there is a sense of satisfaction no matter if things didn't really go as planned, yet the future may hold a fortune for the band. With the release of "Consequence Of Time", Steinmetal had a chance to talk to Greg Diener of the band regarding the things to come, a little bit about the past, new album, new additions and more…

Hello Greg, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir? I guess that times are a little easy with the gradual lifting of the lockdown?

I have been doing well, thanks. The company I work for was deemed essential, so we have remained open through it all. The biggest change I’m noticing right now is the increase in traffic as more people start to go back to work. My commute has been a breeze for the last two months, but I’m very happy to see things returning to normal.

How do you perceive this entire situation with the Covid-19? Do you think that enough has been done to ensure the safety and health of the citizens? Do you fear an incoming second wave at the gates?

It’s really hard to pinpoint my thoughts on this whole thing. It kind of feels like we are on an episode of the “Twilight Zone.” Although I think officials could have acted sooner, I’m not sure what else could have been done. A lot of people didn’t respond very well to the restrictions and felt as if their freedom was being taken away. It’s a very tense situation, and we are seeing now what happens when people feel their rights are being violated. I do fear that with all of the protests happening right on the heels of Covid-19 that a second wave will spike.

Pale Divine reached 25 years of existence, now that is quite a milestone sir. I assume that the first question due to this notable event concerns looking back. Are you satisfied with what the band accomplished? Were there made decisions that you regret, perhaps given the chance to be done differently? What are your expectations for the next 25 years?

I am satisfied. Although we never achieved superstardom, I do feel like we have left a notable impression on the scene. We take a lot of pride in our craft and I think that shows. We are not a band to crank out album after album, but what we do release is always a genuine and sincere collection of music that we are proud of.

Of course, there are things that I regret when I think about the last 25 years. I’m sure there were some situations that could have been handled differently and taken an alternate course, but inevitably those are the things that formed us into what we are today and I would not change anything about who we are as a band right now.

As far as the next 25 years, who knows. I hope to play more shows overseas and one day to finally tour the west coast. The only thing that is certain is that I’m going to get old, haha.

There is nothing better than celebrating an anniversary with a brand new album, and not a “best of” kind of release. Furthermore, you signed with Cruz Del Sur Music after being with Shadow Kingdom Records for quite some time. Was it a logical decision of going forward? Perhaps sinking in deeper into the European market?

Signing with Cruz Del Sur was a very natural progression for us. When we were invited to play the “Hammer of Doom” festival in 2018 our long-time friend Tom Phillips of “While Heaven Wept,” who had recently started scouting for Cruz del Sur, introduced us to Enrico from the label and basically set the plans in motion to work with them for our next release.  We had heard great things about the label from band friends that had signed with them (Apostle of Solitude and Butch from Argus and Ardruni/Balich). We are very happy to be working with a label that is as excited about our album as we are.

Titled “Consequence Of Time”, I found the title to be both straightforward but with a measure of being cryptic. The way I see it, this album, as its title suggests, is the consequence of two and a half decades of effort, blood, sweat and tears. Is this what this is all about or there is more to it, something that most people would miss?

I think that is a big part of it. Kind of like a melting snow-cap that slowly erodes and carves a stream that becomes a river. This is our niche and we will not move, but that doesn’t mean we will not grow. Personally, I think the title has as much depth as the listener cares to associate with it. Beauty, decay, knowledge, fear. Everything we know is a result of time. It’s the most powerful, yet elusive force in the universe. Although its endless, we can never seem to acquire enough, and have no control over the time that has been allotted for us.

The image of the wizard on the artwork, which is a Merlin type, holds a reaper’s scythe over the hourglass. This image sends various messages out. Is there a threat to the band’s existence? Why the wizard and not the actual reaper?

When I look at the cover art I do not see a wizard but the reaper who is in fact revealing himself to be Father Time, bowing his head as the last sands of time pass through the hourglass in the final moments of existence

Raising the leading theme question, what would you say is the leading philosophy that guides “Consequence Of Time” forward?

I guess for me it’s that despite our greatest efforts and best laid plans, we really have no control over the final course of our lives. The river will flow in the path that has been carved for it. Whether it flows strong and wide or trickles and dries will be revealed in time but it is not for us to decide.

After listening to several of your previous songs, it appears that “Consequence Of Time” is a musical breacher, a means for Pale Divine, as a Doom Metal band, to cross paths into new horizons, while unlike a lot others that tend to remain in their comfort zones far into their careers. What was the source of the motivation to take this important step forward?

I have always felt that we offered more variety on our musical pallet than just doom. I think every release of ours has at least one or two songs that stray from the traditional doom guidelines. The biggest difference on “Consequence of Time,” aside from the presence of  Dana, is that we didn’t really concern ourselves with whether it was “doomy” enough, just if it was good enough.

Even though it is always a natural process, I will make it hard on you. Do you feel that this new vibe coming from “Consequence Of Time” is what to be expected from Pale Divine in the near future?

I would say so. We will do our best to harness the energy we currently have and keep progressing. I am confident that our sound will continue to grow.

You probably had the chance to listen to the new album a fair share of times. While being fully focused, letting the songs sink in time and time again, while also looking into the not so far past, how do you find Pale Divine’s development musically? What are the band’s new aces in the deck?

Our musical development has definitely become more focused over the years as we have matured. Less of a jam aspect and more a determined path. Having a second guitarist allows for a lot more experimentation but also less control on a personal level, therefore requiring a bit more structure. Likewise, with the additional vocals bringing a whole new world of possibilities, they also require more planning. At this stage there are still many aspects to explore before we truly know our capabilities.

Talking about aces, so I will mention at least one. Recruiting your ex-band member in Beelzefuzz, Dana Ortt, gave Pale Divine a kind of edge that I assume that you have been contemplating about for several years. Judging by the happenings within “Consequence Of Time”, it seems that Ortt became an integral part. Why did it take you long to recruit him? Was it too much of a rough conflict of schedules with Beelzefuzz?

We actually started playing with Dana in Pale Divine in 2018 while we were still doing Beelzefuzz as well. I think originally the idea was to keep a certain degree of separation between the two projects to preserve each bands’ individual identity. Unfortunately, we were unable to continue as Beelzefuzz due to a dispute over the rights to the name. We decided at that point to go all in and combine the two projects into one band and use all of our resources together to create something unique yet familiar.

How do you find Ortt’s recruiting to the band, his influence on the band’s vocals and riffing dynamics and of course of the songwriting process that took a new shape and form?

Dana is a very talented individual on many levels, a great singer and songwriter with killer riffs. He is also capable of some very tasty solos. He’s got a great mind for music and the ability to sculpt a song into whatever he wants it to be. Not to mention that he has a great attitude and is very likable. His songwriting process is almost the complete opposite of mine, whereas he will normally come up with a vocal line first and I tend to work on riffs first. I think that our styles complement each other very well and accelerates the project time from start to finish while also bringing a fresh element to our sound.

One of the band’s offsprings, “Broken Martyr”, which took a hold on me, is the 70s dangerous meeting of Rock and Metal in progression, exploring the vintage with finesse. The solos for instance, also the sound, felt something between Jimi Hendrix and Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost). Certainly, a kind of song that is uncanny for Pale Divine. Can you shed some light on this song’s songwriting and the implementation of the band’s musical development on it?

“Broken Martyr” was a riff that Dana brought and then collaborated with us as Darin penned the lyrics, and I developed the solos.  It had been kicking around the Beelzefuzz rehearsal space for a few years and we felt it was too good to be lost with the dissolve of the band.  We made some slight revisions and moved it over to Pale Divine.

 “Phantasmagoria” may be somewhat linked to the band’s past, yet its heavenly, mixed with sorrow, atmosphere, along with duets of yourself and Ortt, make this occasion even more special. It felt to me like treading in the dark, trying to find a way out of a really depth forest. What is your appreciation of this song? What is it all about really?

“Phantasmagoria” is another song brought from the Beelzefuzz library.  Dana had played this for me one of the first times we ever jammed together before I joined Beelzefuzz. I was immediately entranced by it. Such a beautiful, yet haunting, melody.  For a very long time it was just the melody with no real lyrics; just mock words used to have something to sing.  Darin wrote these lyrics after we decided to put it on this album.  So as far as the real meaning of the song, I suppose you would have to ask him. But to me, it combines a mournful feeling of regret, the hurt of betrayal, and the longing for companionship to no avail.

With the Covid-19 still around, and without the ability to support the album live, are there ways, other than the label’s efforts, to promote the new album, like q&a, listening party online, streamed show?

It is very uncertain right now. All of our shows in the foreseeable future have been cancelled.  We have not been able to rehearse since February.  Hopefully with restrictions being lifted we will be able to get back to business and get a plan into action.  More than anything, I need this for my own soul.  I have felt very unbalanced without it.  In the last 25 years this is by far the longest we’ve ever gone without playing.

There have been a lot of tours rescheduled to the end of the year or the early stages of 2021, have you started planning your next shows?

As for now, we are scheduled to play at the “Blades of Steel” festival in Wisconsin this September, and “Descendants of Crom” in Pittsburg in October.  Other than that, we don’t have anything planned that hasn’t been cancelled.  Honestly, I just hope that we can play ANY live shows before 2021.

With plenty of time to wait around, have you already started working on new material for a next album?

There are a few songs floating around that will hopefully give us a jumpstart on a new album.  I have a few things I’ve been working on personally as well. It will be exciting to see what everyone has to offer when we are finally able to get together and collaborate again.

Greg, many thanks for your time for this interview. I can’t thank you enough with the powerful “Consequence Of Time”, and I hope that you will have another fruitful 25 years. Cheers

Thank you for the interview and for supporting us.  We hope to be bringing you new music for years to come.


 



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