Review – Diemonds: Never Wanna Die

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  • Bio: "Toronto is the setting for the most molten rock and metal scene in the western hemisphere. Meet Diemonds: the city’s hungriest band, clawing their way out of the underground with their modern day hard rock sound that draws inspiration from rock n’ roll’s heroes." - Facebook
  • Label: Napalm Records
  • Release Date: September 4th, 2015
  • Genre: Hard Rock
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Diemonds is a Canadian hard rock group that came to be back in 2006. The five-piece started things off with their self-released effort In the Rough in 2008, which peaked the interest of Underground Operations who picked them up to issue the follow-up album The Bad Pack in 2012. Both of these recordings have also seen release on cassette (2011 and 2012 respectively), as well as a vinyl version of the latter. For 2015, we find the female fronted act breaking out with Never Wanna Die, which is being handled by Napalm Records. But has the band continued to grow and nurture that relatively young sound, or does this new effort find the group taking more steps backward than forward?

One of the most infuriating aspects of this release is the way it sounds. Never Wanna Die just sounds like it’s suffering from an inner turmoil that has escaped to wage war on the outside. The music comes off gritty with an eighties flair wrapped in a coat of sleek modern day production values that try to make it fairly sharp, leading to a muddied mess that creates conflict after conflict. The guitars sound bulky, and the bass is fairly deep, but both end up causing a crackling in the speakers, not to mention often just sound like they are fading in and out at times, especially on the songs that are far more focused on these two stringed instruments than anything else. It’s subtle, but it’s incredibly annoying. The drums, however, sound great, and stand as the most crisp aspect of the album. Even the vocals can suffer some of the aforementioned issues, albeit rarely. Compared to their The Bad Pack album, this release just sounds awful.

But then there’s the music to contend with. Diemonds is essentially nothing more than a poor man’s Sister Sin laced with In This Moment/White Stripes “we wanna be famous too!” intentions this time around. This isn’t to say the band is bad, though. Never Wanna Die does have its share of catchy material if you can look past the aforementioned audio issues, especially with the title track. “Never Wanna Die” has a bit of an anthemic approach to the grimy, passionately energized sounding backalley approach that the main verses carry. “Hell is Full” is another of the few songs that stand out, which puts the focus on chugging riffs, nice drum fills, and a solid bass presence that nicely builds to the simpler, yet fairly empowering chorus that pays off quite well.

“Better Off Dead” has a little more bite to the tighter guitar work, though again we’re met at a collection of obvious Joan Jett and Sister Sin influence. The only difference is that this one has a little more of a punk attitude to the music and vocals, more akin to something that varsity side of Victory Records would orgasm all over. Again, the song itself isn’t bad. The vocals show a little more range, the gang chants work to bulk up the chorus (and aren’t as abused as they are during “Never Wanna Die”), it’s a little more vulgar, the bass is a bit more dominant, and the hooks are genuinely infectious with plenty of energy that even the most stalwart of naysayers will have a hard time not getting into. If anything, it plays up the youthful rebelliousness and outcast side of the band quite well. A lot of this also goes for “Forever Untamed” and it’s lighter, but just about as enthusiastic tendencies.

Diemonds

Sadly, with exception of the hit-or-miss radio friendly “Over It”, this is where the “originality” (if you can call it that) comes to a screeching halt. The rest of Never Wanna Die seems to progress into even more generic territory than what is already present with every passing track. “Wild At Heart” tries to bring in a bit of a tribal influence to the drumming, which is commendable as it works to push that eighties era vibe to the music quite further in the main verses. However, the chorus kicks in with the most mundane hooks that both ruin that environment, as well as just turn an otherwise engaging track into something uninspiring to the point that even the band seems bored with it until the Hollywood Undead and other mainstream youth empowering rock groups influence takes over wildly, further destroying any semblance of fluidity that existed during this just over three minute song.

On top of all this is “Ain’t That Kind of Girl”, which stands as the most obvious modern rock cash grab of the release. It’s so unoriginal that I know I’ve heard every single riff in this song before, not to mention swear up and down this is a cover being passed off as something new and original due to how familiar the chorus is. Of course there’s “Secret”, which literally stands as the most generic of mainstream ready rock possible, throwing nods to Butcher Babies without the screaming, even to a “darker” shade of No Doubt or Gwen Steffani.

Sister Sin, In This Moment, Halestorm, Lullacry, Joan Jett & The Heartbreakers, Hellcats, Crucified Barbara, Doro, Battle Beast, Girl School, No Doubt, Kittie, as well as Butcher Babies; These are all bands that, in one way or another, immediately come to mind, or had me comparing songs to, upon listening to Never Wanna Die. Diemonds has so very little going for it in the realm of unique that Never Wanna Die comes off one generic hero worship clone after another. There isn’t a single thing that Diemonds does across these ten tracks that even hints at an intent of being original. Of course, that doesn’t mean the album itself is bad. Many of the songs are catchy in their own right, and had there been a better audio quality, they probably would be more engaging than what they are. But, throwing on this album is like saying you’d rather go see a cover band of the groups mentioned above over the originals just a block away at another club. Diemonds, a band better suited to the Victory Records roster than Napalm Records, has the ability, but lacked the creativity this time around to use it in a way that makes them stand out at all. This is especially unforgivable given this is their third full-length album, and their last two even had more of a voice their own than this one does.

Diemonds

Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records via Freeman Promotions.