SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Jeff Scott Soto has said this is a working band and not a side project and will be around for a long while. He is proving that fact by releasing a second album in just over a year after the debut. This one, called ‘Divak’, was released on April 1, 2016. The debut album, I didn’t feel was a band album as the band never really played on any of the songs. It was a solo album with a lot of guests if you ask me. This time around, Jeff makes it a band. And who is in that band? Aside from Jeff, it is the same guys from the debut artwork (as they weren’t really on the album). You get Jorge Salan on guitars, BJ on guitars and keys, David Z (Of ZO2) on bass and Edu Cominato on drums.

There are still a ton of guests, but this time they are really guests. They are additional guitarists, some solos, keyboards and backing vocals while the band handles most of the grunt work…as they should if this is a band. The album is just as heavy as the last, if not heavier. It rocks out as it is both melodic and a little proggy at times. Jeff usually does more melodic, rock and doesn’t get this heavy or hasn’t in a while, but he missed this stuff and that is why Soto exists. It fulfills his desire to really go full tilt and it certainly delivers that and more.

The album kicks off with, “Divak”, a symphonic, dramatic and totally intriguing instrumental piece. The intensity builds and totally makes you feel like you are in to an adventurous journey. The biggest problem is that it ends…it just stops. It doesn’t bleed into the next song which I think is a huge missed opportunity as this was a really fantastic piece and would’ve flowed better with that seamless transition.

“Weight of the World” is the first vocals and it is thunderous, bombastic and loud as hell. The heavy, nasty riffs and those barrage of drums are totally destructive and dangerous. Jeff’s vocals attack the song with carrying the weight of the music. Leo Mancini helps with some additional guitars and speaking of guitars, listen to that solo and those riffs…damn there is a lot going on here and something to explore each time you listen.

The tribal beats of “Freakshow” coming roaring at you and it is easy to see why this is the first single. Soto’s vocals soft and then gritty as he changes with the music. The chorus see his vocals soar as they grab you by the throat and give out the anger and aggressiveness needed. A killer freaking metal track that sees more blistering guitar work which seems to be the theme of this albums because the guitars are immense. Tony Dickinson handles the bass, guitars and keyboards with help on guitars from Chris Feener so not much of a band song.

“Paranoia” has a familiar guitar sound that I can’t place, but it is fantastic. This song isn’t as heavy, more melodic hard rock, then metal which is fine with me. The chorus is catchy and will grab hold as Jeff sounds awesome as usual. But again, the guitars rule as they had help again, this time by Roger Benet. With all this guitar help, it really adds a lot to the sound of these songs as it gives them at least 3 guitars on the song.

“Unblame” starts out a little more laid back and the first voice has Jeff going a little less aggressive, but there is an intensity building, smoldering underneath and ready to combust. Some great effects on Jeff’s vocals as if on a radio then he lets loose. The riffs are crunchy and little machine gun bursts of greatness. The song never fully explodes, but maybe that is the charm in that it felt like it was going to unleash holy hell.

Next up is “Cyber Masquerade” and it brings back the metal with those double kick drum beats and massive bass line/solo by David Z and he does slay it (the best part of the song). Soto spits out a bunch of cliched lyrics and nothing overly exceptional. The song is definitely heavy, some fine guitar work and bass work, but lyrically a little boring and dull.

Then they slow things down with “In My Darkest Hour” and even throw in some string orchestration thanks to Connor Engstrom. It shows the softer side of Soto’s vocals as he bring the feels with this voice. There are acoustic guitars, electric guitars and everything you’d want in a ballad. The chorus is melodic and draws you in as the string arrangement is a nice touch. But overall, the song is a little disappointing as it feels like it is trying to go somewhere, but gets lost along the way. Even a fabulous solo from Leo doesn’t help it in the end. I usually love Soto’s ballads, but this leaves me wanting something…anything…but never delivers.

Then things get interesting and not a moment too soon. “Forgotten” lays down a sinister and evil riff that sounds as dark as your soul. The deep rich tone is the perfect backdrop for Jeff’s vocals. Jeff’s delivery is deliberate and intense and the chorus is melodic and brings it all home. The heaviness and darkness that exudes was exactly what I needed at this point.

“Suckerpunch” starts off slow, but don’t worry, they slam it home really quickly and it has a Five Finger Death Punch vibe to the riffs. And the guitars are again immense and so is the double kick drum from Edu who has really shined on this album. The chorus will sucker you in and punch you right in the face. A fun, rocking track and listen to all the guitar quirks through, it really keeps the song interesting.

“Time” is a real modern sound to it, almost Shinedown like. Vocally, it is not as Jeff comes in aggressive and spits out the lyrics as if he is about to beat the shit out of you. The chorus is more melodic and Jeff’s vocals are more what you are used to it, then back to the lyrical attack. There are some great moments here and there, but musically I didn’t think it was going to reach the heights I was expecting and then the instrumental break came in and it was a jam session for everyone and was totally awesome and what this song needed. I was about to deduct a 1/2 Point, but man this song kicked ass in the end. In the end, it didn’t waste my time.

Next up is “Misfired” and sounds all proggy. With extra help on guitars from Al Pitrelli and Jason Rufuss Sewell and it is no wonder where the sound came from. A very different track from the rest of the album, but the variety works. The chorus is the big payoff as it could fit in on any Soto album as his vocals hit the target.

“Fall From Grace” sees a variety of sounds going on at the same time. I’m not sure where to focus my attention. The vocals sound good, but the lyrics don’t grab me. It feels like we’ve been down this road already and it never grabs hold.

The last track is called “Awakened” and builds slowly with a riff that pops in and out and then the band explodes with heart pounding drums and adrenaline driving riffs. It is a brutal attack of the senses and I am not sure Rocky could go one round with this barrage of punches. Jeff delivers an angry and destructive assault with the lyrics. The song ends with a keyboards which gives the song a totally different feel There is nothing really memorable about the lyrics, but the music will leave its mark.

Track Listing:

  1. Divak – Keeper
  2. Weight of the World – Keeper
  3. Freakshow – Keeper
  4. Paranoia – Keeper
  5. Unblame – Keeper
  6. Cyber Masquerade – Delete
  7. In My Darkest Hour – Delete
  8. Forgotten – Keeper
  9. Suckerpunch – Keeper
  10. Time – Keeper
  11. Misfired – Keeper
  12. Fall From Grace – Delete
  13. Awakened – Keeper (1/2 Point)

The Track Score is 9.5 out of 13 Tracks or 73%.  This is definitely a step up from the debut SOTO album and it is nice to see the band actually play on it. It is heavy, with some great guitars, great bass work and those drums were immense.  Jeff can do almost anything vocally and he shows that here.  My biggest problem with the album is although it sounds great when you are listening to it and you definitely enjoy it, most of the songs don’t stick with you too long after its over.  As a result, My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars.  Still worth to have in the JSS collection though!



  1. Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
  4. Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
  5. Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
  6. Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
  7. Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  8. Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
  9. Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  10. Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
  11. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
  12. Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
  13. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  14. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  15. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
  16. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  17. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  18. Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  20. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  21. Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
  22. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  23. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
  24. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  25. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  26. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  27. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  28. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  29. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  30. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  31. Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  33. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  34. ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  35. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  36. Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
  38. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  39. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
  40. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  41. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  44. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  45. Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
  46. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  47. Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
  48. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  49. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  50. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  51. Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  53. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  54. Jeff Scott Soto – LA Rocks Demo / Vinnie Vincent Demo 1988 (2008)
  55. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  57. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  58. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  59. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  60. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  61. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  62. W.E.T. – ‘Rise Up’ (2013)
  63. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  64. Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
  65. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  66. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
  67. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  68. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  69. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  70. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  71. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  72. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  74. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  75. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  76. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  77. Talisman – “Never Say Die (A Song For Marcel)” – 7″ Single (2020)
  78. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  79. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  80. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
  81. Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
  82. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

8 thoughts on “SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

  1. Thanks for this.

    If Dave Grohl is the nicest guy in rock, is it safe to say that JSS is the hardest working man in rock?

    Take any pop act and a good number of rock acts. They’ll release an album every three years. JSS – hold my microphone.

    I’d love to take a look at his recording contract. I’ll bet it’s for a dozen albums, otherwise the two sides would always be negotiating new deals.


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