Artist: Dividing the Masses
Album: My Roots Will Remain
One of the truly beautiful and unique things about nature and wildlife in the Midwest is its innate resistance to the elements. Take, for example, this past winter. While it was intense no matter where in the country—or practically the world—you found yourself, the winter was colder and harsher than the norm. However, now that the worst seems to be behind us, and showers of snow and ice find themselves replaced with rays of sunshine and warmth, nature is doing exactly what it does best—springing back, reminding us of its resilience. Even as the cruel, frozen soil clamped down around the roots and trunks of every tree and ice clung to the branches like disease, Mother Nature’s majestic amalgam of passion and strength was not to be outdone—and the same can be said for one of the midwest’s most unique deathcore acts, Dividing the Masses. My Roots Will Remain is a dynamic, brilliant combination of cold, bitter Midwestern anger and heartwarming, passionate emotion—making the band a perfect example of a group whose surroundings shape and influence every aspect of their sound, and more importantly, their fury.
Bearing down upon the listener, encasing them in sheet after sheet of frigid intensity, My Roots Will Remain weighs on the listener’s shoulders like a ton of ice. With massive, plodding and beefy kick drum that thumps and pounds alongside the deep, rolling bass guitar, there is a limitless depth to the low-end of the EP that practically locks the listener in place with sheer heaviness, preventing them from moving. This is amplified by the chug-heavy portions of the otherwise dynamic and technically capable fretwork; best seen in “Ideation” and “Discontent,” where technical, spanning leads harmonize at the blink of an eye and dogpile overtop of the crushing, brooding bass guitar and deep, dissonant percussion to steamroll the listener with sheer, spine-splintering intensity. This is amplified by the gruff, low vocals of Dustin Schultz, whose range plays an enormous role in accentuating the brutalizing heaviness that dominates My Roots Will Remain. One particularly effective instance of this is the climactic, groove-heavy breakdown of “My Roots Will Remain,” where Schultz’s low, meaty bellows play beautifully to the plodding, tumultuous candor of the instrumentation, freezing the listeners blood down until it flows about as quickly as molasses in January.
However, just as Dividing the Masses freeze the listener with all the ruthlessness of a Midwestern winter, they also bring to the table the passion, emotion and energy of pure spring sunshine. Portions of My Roots Will Remain take all the heart-thumping emotion of a Counterparts or Hundredth song and frame it in a hard-hitting, dissonant deathcore setting. “Wither Away” and the introductory “Teddie Odd” both make excellent use of this tactic, combining a shrill, harsh scream with ambient, atmospheric instruments that quickly digress into pummeling, intense and near-palpable levels of fury and anger. “On Leaving” follows a similar approach, incorporating ethereal, drifting segments that allow the listener to feel almost as if they are basking in calm, warm summer sunshine, only to bring them back to the cold, frigid reality of winter with a cascade of ice, hail, intensity and hatred. Soothing, smooth instrumentation—coming largely from bouncy, catchy bass riffs and rolling, flourishing percussion that blossoms like lilies and irises inside the listener’s head—only to be frozen solid once more by the winter-like fury that follows.
My Roots Will Remain ebbs and flows like this—passing as poetically as the seasons do in a year. Sections of the EP have the listener floating between summer and winter, taking solace in the brief-but-beautiful Midwest fall. Other portions are anything but peaceful; with jagged riffs and jarring breakdowns cutting into their flesh and shearing through their bones like hail and ice. The end result of this brilliant structuring of each track—and the EP as a whole—is a release that does what countless bands have tried to do but simply failed. Dividing the Masses make deathcore a poetic, entrancing experience by combining raw, blistering heaviness with emotional fortitude and substance that actually provides something worth feeling passionately about. My Roots Will Remain is a perfect cycle flowing from the depths of winter to the sandy shoals and sunshine of summer—covering every condition in between, and the expertise with which this is done is so masterful that is blinds the listener to the slight faults in production which might be otherwise distracting; another manner which showcases Dividing the Masses’ mastery of emotionally provocative song structure.
No matter how harsh the hail, intense the ice or soul-crushing the snow—nature will return. That’s one thing life in the Midwest has taught us, and in turn, taught Dividing the Masses. With My Roots Will Remain, they prove that the toughest, most adverse effects of the crushing, bitter and brutal weather can sometimes manifest themselves in the most surreal and splendid springs and summers, along with the most masterful mixes of emotion, energy and anger deathcore has ever seen.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Counterparts, Sworn In, Conflicts
By: Connor Welsh