Swiss hard rockers Black Diamonds have been at this gig since 2004. You would think in that time they would have produced a copious amount of albums. But you would be mistaken. 2008 brought their debut First Strike, which is long out of print. The band rebounded with 2013's Perfect Sin and subsequent small European tour. Another four years later, Black Diamonds return with their third album, Once Upon A Time for AOR Heaven. Press material indicates that several songs from that first album appear here, but we are not told which ones.
Suffice to say, the Black Diamonds sound is quite familiar, playing old school Eighties melodic hard rock with a metal edge in AOR wrapper. Think Bon Jovi of yesteryear, or more currently The Poodles, Brother Firetribe, or Eclipse. The faithful elements of the genre are in play: twin guitar harmony, stinging guitar solos, a steady rock groove from the rhythm section, and clean harmonious vocal arrangements, with all these wrapped in abundance of melody. Is there anything novel or new that Black Diamonds are adding to this classic genre? Not really. But they are very good at their craft. (After 17 years you better be.)
The collection of songs is generally varied from rockers to ballads. Heavier rockers include, Thrill Ride, The Ghost And The Shadow, Not Going Home, and Hard To Let Go, all of which mix in the metal edge, notably in the riffage and the bottom end. More of an AOR groove comes with the catchy tunes Love Stick Love and Vampires Of The Night. Similar, Pieces of A Broken Dream bumps up the harmony in the vocal arrangement and, turning on the melody and groove, has a real arena anthem feeling. The only ballad is found in Love Lies Loneliness, which leads with voice and acoustic guitar, then builds with a synth symphonic layer to a large guitar and vocal crescendo. Finally, according to promotional material, the CD comes with a cover of Chuck Berry's Rock n Roll Music, found on the first album, and a piano version of Vampires Of The Night. My EPK had neither.
All in all, Black Diamonds' Once Upon A Time is solid and entertaining classic, metal-infused, melodic hard rock, from a very talented band. Hopefully, in the future, their output will be a little more consistent. Recommended.
Black Diamonds' Once Upon A Time is solid and entertaining classic, metal-infused, melodic hard rock, from a very talented band. Hopefully, in the future, their output will be a little more consistent. Recommended.
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