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Black Diamonds - Once Upon a Time

Black Diamonds
Once Upon A Time
by V. Srikar at 05 July 2017, 7:18 PM

Modern Hard Rock has managed to stay alive by reinventing itself in many ways. Both the old school and new school have creating new sounds in order to not only pander to the older audience, but also attract the new fans. Swizz Hard Rockers BLACK DIAMONDS released their 2nd full length album “Once Upon a Time” this March and boy its long, with 14 songs in it.

The album starts with an intro in “Tales Untold” which is mostly atmospheric tempo build up with some intrinsic keyboard and drums work in there. “The Ghost and the Shadow” starts with fast paced riffs right from the beginning and it is nothing but a really good rhythmic juicy hair lifting riffage. The vocals of Michael Kehl, who also does the Rhythm guitar work here, is really worth appreciating, as it works and fits in perfectly for the genre and type of Hard Rock that the band plays here. “Love Stick Love” has a bit of GUNS N ROSES influence coming out of it, but the band still stay true to their unique fast paced guitar driven Hard Rock, and the influences are clearly shown as the song slows down in its outro with the sound of a women moaning as it rains and thunders heavily in the background. “Romeo & Juliet” sounds like the melodic Hard Rock version of JUDAS PREIST’s “Breaking The Law”, but the song manages to have its uniqueness through its riffs and lyrics. “Pieces of a Broken Dream” is an interesting 80s rock ballad, which has lots of sharp guitar solos, reminiscent of the great 80s bands like AC DC and GUNS N ROSES.

The vocals in “Love, Lies, Loneliness” remind me of Sabastian Bach of SKID ROW. “Thrillride” can be best described as a Desert Hard Rock song with the vocals of Joel O'Keeffe from AIRBOURNE, with some very inspirational lyrics that can be considered as the best in the album. The album started to test my patience with “Vampires of the Night” as it didn’t offer anything new compared to what was on offer so far. “Not Going Home” sounds like a Hard Rock party song that you would here in a 90s teen movie. The 10th song ironically titled “Hard to Let Go” is another mediocre song here, offering nothing new to the listener, besides the catchy lyrics. Besides the generically titled “Rock'n'roll Music”, which sounds exactly as you would expect it to, a party rock n roll song, the rest of the album is just testing the listener’s patience. Although, it’s worth mentioning that the album does end with a unique keyboard version of “Vampires of the Night”, as Michael Kehl screams his way into oblivion.

Once Upon a Time” is a “could be great album” that was undone by its ‘too many songs and no variety’ problem. It’s an album that most fans of the genre should love for the most part, except when it starts getting monotonous and boring. This album has its shelf life, which is part of the problem, but hey there are some good solos in there. Jump in.

Production: 8
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Tales Untold
2. The Ghost and the Shadow
3. Love Stick Love
4. Romeo & Juliet
5. Pieces of a Broken Dream
6. Love, Lies, Loneliness
7. Thrillride
8. Vampires of the Night
9. Not Going Home
10. Hard to Let Go
11. Years
12. This Is a Love Story
13. Rock'n'roll Music
14. Vampires of the Night (Piano Version)
Michael Kehl (vocals, guitars)
Andreas Rohner (lead guitars)
Andi Fässler (bass)
Manuel Peng (drums)
Record Label: AOR Heaven Records


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Edited 07 December 2022

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