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Dark Divinity

Unholy Rapture

Review by Craig Leahy

Today I’m making a big black coffee, topping up my vape and dusting off my old At the Gates tee shirt because we have an ultra-special occasion. I was given a test pressing of the new Dark Divinity album on vinyl, due to my widely reported journalistic integrity when it comes to fairly reviewing albums, utmost professional approach to giving feedback in a concise and never scathing way and mostly because Ian has a track record of absolutely fuckin’ biffing it when it comes to pressing things on vinyl so he needed me to try it on my record player. Either way I had a chance to spin the new album quite a few times over the last week and I have some concerns that need addressing, like fucking now.

What is the dark secret that made Reece leave the band?

How much song writing input is just too much song writing input for a drummer to have?

Exactly how many gates did they stand at to nail this sound?

Let’s find out together.

Dark Divinity are a very peculiar presence in the Wellington scene. They’ve gone out of their way to make sure their line-up is a complete mystery to the public, and honestly most of the time to themselves as well. After cycling through every single guitarist and bassist in Wellington, it seems like they’ve settled on a line-up long enough to record an album, and it’s pretty fucking strong. So strong in fact, that Undertheradar would most likely call it a ‘Supergroup’ and I’m sure that has nothing to do with Ian having a direct debit set up to pay UTR weekly but hey, this isn’t a hit piece on Ian’s integrity, this is a hit piece on Unholy Rapture.

The line-up they settled on consists of Jesse Wheeler on vocals, Paul Stewart on post rock, Jiji Aligno on lead guitar and Ian Moir drums, and we’ll get into the merits of what these fine young gentlemen bring to the table soon but for now, let’s talk about the elephants in the room.

How the fuck is Jiji so fucking happy all the time? Like fuck dude, I’ve never smiled in my life and never will. Worst part is every time I’m around him I just want to cuddle him, dude is so cute and nice, far out, he makes me want to be a better person. BUT I NEVER WILL DO YOU HEAR ME JIJI? TOXIC ‘TILL DEATH. And why the fuck is Paul always eating a big bag of Mexicano corn chips? I bet he doesn’t like the Jalapeno ones because they make his tongue hurt too, fuckin’ Paul man, that’s what 46 years of sad boy post-rock will do to you. As for Ian, I’m not sure how anyone can trust a man who wears a denim jacket without a back patch. Jesse is the only true warrior, I have nothing to complain about with him, but don’t you dare wrong me Jesse, I’ll come for you.


The album starts off strong with Exegesis. As an introduction to Jesse’s vocals this kicks ass, his low roars are fucking incredible and there’s one specific high scream at 2.32 that to this day keeps me up at night hoping he’s okay. My only problem with this track is you just fucking know the intro is gonna be one of those stupid ass fist pump moments in the crowd with Jesse going “HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!” Iron Maiden styles. Jesse if you read this don’t let me fucking catch you doing this I swear to god. But if you do decide to ruin your life and do it, I won’t see it because I’ll be outside smoking but still say yea good set man.

Unholy Rapture sets out to do what we’ve all needed to do in the Wellington metal scene, tap into the jizzed up teenage weightlifter bro market. At some point over the week this drops if you walk past Wellington High School, you’re going to hear Left for Dead fuckin’ BLARING out of the gym with the sound of muted high fives and stinky back sweat boys pulling devil horns losing their mind. Left for Dead fuckin’ rips man, if I’d heard that track when I was 17 I would have lost my mind too, but I didn’t. I heard it at 36 and I sat at my computer desk and nodded approvingly and honestly not even that approvingly, my neck still hurts from Napier Death Fest.


The marketing for this album has been really fucking good too, remember when Dark Divinity gave all their fans NFTs with their initials on it then inducted them into Gloriavale? Then they cashed in on the success of Elden Ring and made a video game that was too hard for everyone on the NZ Metal Facebook page. Straight up, dope marketing. Pity everyone on the NZ Metal page is a little bitch and couldn’t last a second in the Chalice Dungeons on Bloodborne, actually, fuck, neither could Ian. I literally gave him a lend on my copy of Bloodborne and he came back next week and went ooooh naaaah I think he might have cried too.

Sick marketing though, engaging as fuck, NFTs rule.


Blood on the Altar is a BIG stand-out on the album for me, mainly because Ian alluded to me stealing the song title for a Glassblower song called Blood on the Throne, but that was months ago and Unholy Rapture wasn’t even mixed yet, like how the fuck could I know haha. The ego on that son of a bitch I swear. This song rules though and we get to hear Jiji shredding up a storm, you know what fuck it I’m going to say it, Jiji is my favourite guitarist in the country and hearing him team up with Paul who is my favourite Dungeons and Dragons NPC in the country makes my fucking heart flutter. Real talk, listen to his solo in Forbidden and tell me that didn’t need to be four minutes longer.

The fucking nerve of these guys calling a song The Seer like Swans don’t exist, ESPECIALLY after Ian gets a reputation of accusing beloved bandmates of stealing song titles, the cheek on this asshole, I’m gonna sew a Swans back-patch on his jacket when he’s asleep, at least we know there’s space on his jacket.


I’ve talked about Jiji but I really don’t think Paul gets enough credit here, we all know how fucking tight he is from what he does during Pentium sets, but fuck me he is SO tight on this album. Real buzzsaw energy, obviously him and Ian are so battle hardened from their years of planning small talk for a week so Into Orbit band practice isn’t awkward. But man, they are the reason for this band being so tight. Ian is a fucking weapon and this might be his best performance on an album so far (until the new Glassblower album drops then we can all forget about Unholy Rapture) and Paul’s guitar tone is RIDICULOUSLY good, like slight adjustment on the mids knob on a Neural DSP preset level good.

You know those fuckin’ annoying ass intros on metal albums that you have to skip, but when you listen on vinyl it’s even more of a pain in the ass because you have to move the needle? Dark Divinity are so forward thinking they knew you’d skip it, SO THEY PUT IT AT THE START OF SIDE TWO, HAVE FUN GETTING OFF YOUR COUCH AGAIN TO SKIP IT DICKHEAD.

Man, straight up though the vocals on this album, Jesse is a fucking monster of a vocalist. There’s an atmospheric moment in the track Cadavers where Jesse cuts through like a can of Lynx Africa in the Wellington High gym, coincidentally where Dark Divinity are having their album release show. I fucking love Jesse’s vocals, real tough guy shit to balance Jiji’s TikTok energy.

Deadass, I love this album and I’m not just saying that because Ian paid me in NFTs to write this. The production is fucking great, the performances are that of a bunch of alpha wolf graduates from Andrew Tate college in the prime of what they do, I’ve listened to it 7 or 8 times over the last week writing this and will happily keep playing the test pressing as long as I never pay for the album as long as I live. You’ll never see a dime out of me Ian.
4.6 punishing Valhalla conversations about pedalboards out of 5

Favourite track – Mist of the Old Gods
FFO: At the Gates, Kataklysm, Wednesday 13’s solo stuff, and opening bands.

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