Of A Divergent Blood

Sounds like: Shitty At the Gates meets a less shitty Hatebreed.

This file consists of the band’s 2002 demo.



Of A Divergent Blood. Divergent. Of A Detergent Sud. Bortle Metal Hardcore. Bortallica. The list of names goes on, but I won’t belabor the point any further. Suffice to say back in the dim days of 2002, when everybody except me wore girl pants and neck armor, Of A Divergent Blood reigned supreme. Locally at least.

Back then, there were a lot of bands coming out of Daytona. The most popular was The Autumn Offering, who actually went on to have quite a following. They eventually signed with Stillborn and toured with Hatebreed. But by the time they made it to Victory (what we thought was the holy grail) they had gone the way of Throwdown: a complete sound change with no original members.

Then there was the least popular band at the time, my band: Every Waking Moment. I tell our story in great detail right here, so there’s no need for me to go into the whole thing again.

But, for a short while, Divergent was the band everybody freaked over. When the Autumn Offering started to pick up steam they were always off touring and they seldom played a hometown show. And Every Waking Moment – well, let’s be honest, no one gave a shit. But Divergent was the band that everybody would come to the show for. They played fun, moshy, metal-influenced hardcore with tons and tons of breakdowns. So for the time, they were the perfect band.

Brett Bortle was the lead vocalist (his older brother Mike was the original drummer for the Autumn Offering). Brett’s gone on to be someone of note in the world of film. I don’t know if Brett works on actual Hollywood movies, but people tell me he films things and gets paid a ton of money for it. But back then, Brett and Mike were just crusty, metal dudes. And – I’ll say it – they smelled bad. To be fair, this was almost fifteen years ago. However, at the time, the Bortle name was synonymous with all things gross, repugnant, and metal. And I think that’s how they wanted it. Brett was a good frontman, especially for how young he was during the band’s tenure. He did a lot of the high screeches and low burps, but it was a perfect approach for their sound.

There was Bro Tom on guitar. I ended up being in a few bands with Tom (he’s living the high life in Hawaii now with his own food truck). But he was always my favorite member of Divergent. His trademark stage move was doing the spin-your-guitar-behind-your-back thing from Strife’s “Blistered” video. Except he never invested in strap-locks for his gold Telecaster and would accidentally chuck the thing across the room at every show.

Jon Ponder handled lead guitar. Jon had really bad arthritis, but would always put his hand up for a high five. Then he’d get mad when you forgot about his condition and slapped it too hard. I took his sister on a few dates and I think he liked that even less. Sean and Justin rounded out the line-up playing bass and drums, respectively. The three of us had a band in high school that never played shows, but I went on to be in a bunch of actual bands with Justin. I also got sloshed at his wedding, which was the same night Tom crawled into the sewer outside of the reception.

Divergent’s demo was short. It contains only two songs: “Burned At the Stake” and “Cara.” The lyrics of both have spawned a lifetime of inside jokes that only people who went to shows in Daytona around 2002 will find funny (“IntheblisteringCOLD…”). But I don’t want to sound like we considered Divergent a joke. We all genuinely liked them. Sure, it’s an outdated sound nowadays, but I’d be lying if I said I never did a cartwheel or a spin kick during a Divergent set. They were a fun band and we had fun watching them play.

The two demo tracks are the only Divergent songs I know of that have survived to present day. I’ve heard tales of a lost, extremely lo-fi demo of “Blade Through My Back,” but I’ve yet to find it. My buddy Karim – who went on to roadie for, then tour and stage manage bands like the Haunted and the Black Dahlia Murder – recorded it while he was going to school at Full Sail in Orlando. But it’s been so long, the CD-R has probably crumbled into dust. Divergent wrote a lot of other songs that were never recorded such as, “You’d Look Good In A Hefty Bag,” “ATV Offroad Fury I,” “ATV Offroad Fury II,” and a bunch of others I can’t remember anymore. It’s a shame they never got back into the studio to preserve their mosh metal legacy.

I honestly don’t remember when Divergent split up, but afterwards Brett did a few other bands with a similar sound. Loving Lady Death came first, then Angels and Demons. Though I never thought either measured up to Divergent, neither were bad bands, especially for the early 2000’s, though Loving Lady Death was the stronger band in my opinion.

Listening to the demo now, I can’t help but smile, even though the songs are about burning witches and some indie rock girl who jilted Brett. The Divergent demo reminds me of people who aren’t around anymore and a time when hardcore and punk were the only things I cared about. It was a time when Daytona was synonymous with great D.I.Y. shows. And I was just finding out about all of it. There was always a band to see and my friends and I rarely missed the opportunity. I don’t necessarily enjoy these songs like I used to (they aren’t that bad though), but listening to this demo really takes me back. The kids in my town had it really good from about 2000 until 2007. And I miss those days.

So just bear that in mind if you download this demo and want to ask yourself, “Is this a wild boar screeching over a band trying and failing to combine At the Gates with Hatebreed? What the fuck is this?” I guess you just had to be there.