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Tuesday January 23rd 2018

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Interview with Divine Eve’s Michael Sleavin

Divine Eve were formerly a short-lived (1992 to 1995) Texas death metal band who despite the brevity of their career managed to release some impressive material, the most celebrated being the As The Angels Weep EP, released in ’93. In a manner much apart from their fellow Tex-Hessians who were honing speed metal chops into a vitriolic strain of black metal, Divine Eve dealt in a more primordial style of doom-death, performed with a grinding aesthetic that sounded positively Swedish. After 15 years of silence, Divine Eve have reformed; their latest EP, Vengeful and Obstinate, was released just last January via Ibex Moon Records. Founding member and guitarist Michael Sleavin was kind enough to answer some questions regarding his band’s history as well as what’s in store for the near future.

What inspired you and Matt Killen to reunite with Xan Hammack and play as Divine Eve, 15 years after the initial split?

When Tarot Productions released the anthology and I came into possession of the copies, Matt and I thought that of course Xan and Tyson [Lueck; original bassist] would get what’s due to them. Upon some searching I came to find out Xan was living in Dallas, having recently moved back from LA. Tyson and I have remained comrades since, so he got his. I called Xan up and met to talk, to give him his copies and to see if he was interested in trying our for my project band Rape Pillage & Burn. Although we went with someone else who has left RPB, Matt and I felt the strong urge to finish what we felt was unfinished creative work as Divine Eve. Several months had went by and I called him up again; a few nights later we were blazing through most of the old tunes, which sound much heavier and better than ever.

Why did the band break up just before the debut album was to be recorded, and how did you feel about Xan relocating to California and releasing the album under the Crimson Relic name?

The break up, well… we were very young and attitudes in the band became strained often. But that is what happens when you are younger and filled with fire in the gut. Actually looking back it was mostly communications and just plain not working through minor differences. Now we are older and have life experience, so we know how to deal with one another better than ever. The Crimson Relic record was not well received by us as it was material that was supposed to be on the first Divine Eve record. Matt, Tyson, and I thought the performance and execution of the material was not up to what we would have done as Divine Eve.

Have you been the primary songwriter in the band, or is it split between you and other members? Presently, does [new bassist] Scott Cooksey bring anything new to the table in terms of songwriting?

I am by no means the primary songwriter; it is really split between us all. The older material is all over the place with all of us composing parts here and there. Lyrically I do write a little more than music but usually we are all present while composing and arranging the songs, Xan comes up with a lot of the riffs that we build upon and Matt is and has always been writing guitar parts as well. As for Scott joining the band, he has been an incredible influence and help in the making of the Vengeful & Obstinate EP. And a tremendous impact on Divine Eve while on tour–the missing link so to speak. So far everything is most impressive! Although we have not brought him into the room with the 7 or so new songs completed for the record. But, I have known Scott for most of my life, 25 years! I know him well as a comrade and fellow musician. Once we commence on bringing him up to speed on what we are working on for the record, I know he will contribute and bring a valued opinion to Divine Eve as a band.

What information can you give us about the upcoming album, and does Divine Eve plan on doing a nationwide tour? (here’s hoping you hit up the Northeast!)

The album will consist of 10 or 11 songs. It will be out on Ibex Moon Records in November 2010 if all goes to plan. We are very pleased on the material we are working on and know it will make fans of Divine Eve give hails! Touring the USA : we have had some offers but our focus is to complete the album and then commence touring to promote the record. However looking at some offers, if it is good for Divine Eve, plans can always be altered.

For the newest EP, what made you decide to re-record the Purgatory’s Reign tracks, “The Lust Primeval” and “Crimson Relic” (as “Whispers of Fire” and “The Ravages of Heathen Men” on the EP)? Were these more like how the songs were supposed to be played on the Divine Eve full-length, or is it more just a revisitation?

Yes, these 2 songs were re-recorded the way we had envisioned them back in the day. “Whispers of Fire” as more of a tribute to Bathory and NWOBHM in a sense, not as Black Metal which is what some see it as currently. “The Ravages of Heathen Men”: we had always thought of atmosphere and the idea of it being more epic, which for both songs we feel we have achieved. There will be a few more songs from the Crimson Relic record that will appear on the 1st and 2nd Divine Eve records… so, more surprises!

In January, Divine Eve supported labelmates Incantation on a tour of Europe. How did it go?

The European Tour was a total success! The fans, the shows, the responses from the audience… all of it was absolutely fantastic! For us as a band to have been asleep for so long it was very positive! Touring with Incantation and having Kyle [Severn, of Incantation] fill in on drums was an absolute pleasure! Nothing but great times!

Divine Eve’s EPs and the Upon These Ashes Scorn the World compilation prominently feature the artwork of Hieronymous Bosch. What is it that captivates you about this artist?

Hieronymous Bosch has always been an inspiration for Divine Eve; his imagery and art captivates so much it is impossible to put into words really. Using his imagery under the banner of Divine Eve will most likely continue into the future.

You’re a veteran of Texas’ metal underground; can you recount for all us yankees your best experiences from the scene’s early days? Consequently, what are your thoughts on Texas’ scene today?

Texas scene…well, it has been up and down. Depends on where you are. Dallas sucks for extreme underground metal music. Years back it was somewhat strong but now I am unsure really. Divine Eve has yet to play stateside let alone a home show in a long time. It may be good but I’ll let you know after we play some gigs here. As for back in the day it was magical for us in North Dallas; us and the Absu guys always enjoyed ourselves and the tape trading scene back in the old days… how times change!

Besides composing and performing crushing old-school Death Metal, what do you busy yourself with nowadays, and what have you been listening to lately?

Besides being in Divine Eve and Rape Pillage & Burn, I have a job, keep busy with band stuff, mail, emails, and of course computer time staying current with the band business. Here in Texas we hunt, shoot guns, drink beer and raise hell! (Sometimes!) Listening to lately: The Devils Blood, Tyrant, Watain, High on Fire, a lot of stuff come to think of it… There is a a lot out there to discover! Always lurking for good sounds of hell!

Thanks so much for taking the time to complete this interview!

Thank you, Z.! For the support and honor! Eternal Hails!

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