Released on August 10, 2018 (Diemonds)
Back in the ’80s, there were a number of bands that changed their sound somewhat from one album to the next. You never knew what they would sound like but they still kept their identity stamped all over their new but different sounding record. An example that comes to mind is Judas Priest who really have never put out two albums the same. From 1980’s classic British Steel to the odd Point Of Entry (1981) to Screaming From Vengeance (1982) with the breakthrough single “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” to the heavy metal masterpiece Defenders Of The Faith (1984) to the commercial sounding Turbo (1986) to the heavier Ram It Down (1988) to the true metal thriller Painkiller (1990), Judas Priest have always changed their sound or “evolved” while keeping the Priest brand on all their records. Another example is Mötley Crüe who have always changed from one record to the next from 1981’s raw Too Fast For Love to 1983’s sleaze masterpiece Shout At The Devil to 1985’s commercial glam effort Theatre Of Pain to 1987’s filthy rocker Girls, Girls, Girls. Mötley Crüe changed it up each time. While I may not have always liked the direction of a certain record from Judas Priest or Mötley Crüe, one thing is for certain, I played each and everyone of those records over and over again.
Canadian sleaze rockers Diemonds are a throw back to that era changing from one record to the next while playing music that has shitloads of ’80s influences. It’s hard to believe that the group that released In The Rough ten years ago is back with its fourth studio album that has such a different and way more mature sound. It strongly appears that the new record was close to not happening and the band possibly collapsing based on what Diemonds lead vocalist Priya Panda recently revealed in an interview with Sleaze Roxx but the group and frontwoman forged through a lot of adversity to come up with their most accessible and melodic effort. Diemonds have shown a lot of evolution in their sound over their 12 year history and while it might be difficult to figure out how the group that just released its self-titled effort had ever released the EP In The Rough, if you listen to Diemonds‘ album one after another, you can hear the evolution from one album to the next and hear the growth from one record to the other. The In The Rough EP was a “rough” and dirty punk like effort, which led to the ’80s influenced guitar heavy The Bad Pack (2011), to the more modern sounding Never Wanna Die (2015), which took some risks with more commercial tracks like “Secret” and “Ain’t That Kinda Girl.”
With their self-titled fourth album, Diemonds take the next step with their most commercially sounding, accessible and melodic record. I am usually the first one to complain when a group goes the commercial route (see for example my review of H.E.A.T‘s Into The Great Unknown) but there is one thing that stuck out as I listened to the more commercially sounding songs on Diemonds‘ new album. The tracks have so much melody and pop elements to them but over a punk like or heavy metal canvas (the music) that I find myself singing some of those more commercial tunes on my own without the songs even playing. For those who were lucky enough to see Diemonds play live in 2017, odds are that you’ve already heard the first two songs — “Breathe” and “Our Song” — on the band’s latest studio album. I liked both songs right off the bat when I first heard them live and they only sound better now that I hear them properly recorded. “Breathe” in particular is a stand out rocker and probably my favorite on the whole record. Both “Breathe” and “Our Song” could have found themselves on Never Wanna Die.
Speaking of Never Wanna Die, there were hints that Diemonds were branching out or “evolving” a little bit with the poppier or more commercial sounding songs such as “Ain’t That Kinda Girl,” “Save Your Life” and especially the ballad “Secret.” This time around, there are more tracks in that vein where emphasis seems to have been placed on catchy melodies. Tracks like “Waiting For Something” and “Burn It Down” remind me of almost early Avril Lavigne type material with the catchy melodies and the beautiful singing from Panda. I make reference to Lavigne in the best possible way as I have always thought her Let It Go and Under My Skin albums were brilliant due to all the melodies that the songs from those records had. “Waiting For Something” almost — and I say almost — makes me want to dance (I don’t dance) as its groove is undeniable. At the very least, it has me singing along to the song from start to finish. Just like “Secret” on Never Wanna Die, Diemonds have a commercial sounding “ballad” with “I Miss.” While I’ve never been a big fan of ballads, I find myself sucked in by the melodies and Panda‘s voice. I also really like the “hey now” portion of the lyrics. It just feels so Canadian.
“How Long” could have easily fit on Never Wanna Die with the verses reminding me a bit of “Ain’t That Kinda Girl” and the chorus portion really reminding me of the melodies found on that record. “I See Red” is built on a strong guitar riff and again is just brimming with melodies and an easy to sing along with chorus. Interestingly, “Made it Through” is probably one of the fastest paced rockers on Diemonds and likely my least favorite song on the record. That’s a little surprising to me as I would have thought that I’d gravitate towards the faster paced rockers that I loved so much on The Bad Pack and Never Wanna Die. “Warrior” is like a cross of The Bad Pack with the guitar soloing throughout the song and Never Wanna Die with the harmonies and “wo oh oh oh” vocals. This is probably the track that is the closest to those prior Diemonds albums and an easy one to get into.
Overall, my favorite tracks on Diemonds are the opener “Breathe,” the easy to sing along to “Waiting For Something” and the melody filled “I See Red.” I would have never thought that I would say this about a Diemonds record but there are five songs that could potentially breakthrough and make it into mainstream music. I hope that happens for Diemonds because a band that delivers three fantastic records (with The Bad Pack in my top ten of all-time) in a row deserves to “make it” or at least not have its frontwoman work seven jobs when she comes back from tour. In terms of Diemonds‘ more commercially accessible sound this time out, I think a lot of it may have to do with guitarist Daniel Dekay not being part of the recording and writing process this time around as I understand from Panda that Dekay only contributed to the tracks “Breathe” and “Our Song” which are arguably the two heaviest songs on the new record while the rest of the songs were written in the studio. From what I understand, Panda brought the pop and melody elements to the band, Dekay brought heavier thrash metal like influences while guitarist C.C. Diemond brought the punk influences.
Without a record label behind them this time around, Diemonds have not yet officially released any songs from their new self-titled album but you can hear snippets of each song at cdbaby.com. Given the high amount of more commercially and poppier sounding songs, I have to say that I am surprised by how much I am really liking Diemonds‘ new album. It will be interesting to see how it fares on Sleaze Roxx‘s various top albums year end lists.
02. Our Song
03. Shoulda Listened To Ya
04. Waiting For Something
05. Burn It Down
06. I Miss
07. How Long
08. I See Red
09. Made It Through
Band Members (that played on the record):
Priya Panda – lead and background vocals
C.C. Diemond – guitar, background vocals
Tyrone Buccione – bass
Kyle Lecourt – drums
Harry Hess – background vocals
Other Band Member:
Daniel Dekay – guitar
Produced and mixed by Eric Ratz
Engineered by Ryan Jones
Mastered by Harry Hess
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, August 2018