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Black Diamonds – ‘Once Upon A Time’

posted 17 Apr 2017, 08:26 by Paul Woodward

(AOR Heaven)

Review by Woody

Once Upon A Time is the third album from Switzerland’s sleaze tinged heavy rockers Black Diamonds. This album wears it’s influences clearly and those Motley Crue similarities frequently pop up especially in the guitar riffs, the LA strip bands are obviously a heavy influence on the bands song writing and attitude driven performances. It’s loud and rambunctious and guitar riff driven rock but the choruses are boosted by been drenched in vocal harmonies which add an extra layer of melodic sheen and give the songs a commercial touch.

It has a strong old school flavour, but it doesn’t feel retro at the same time. These guys and this album fit in well with the current wave of sleaze rock, especially those emerging from Scandinavia. While the LA strip influence is clear and the Scandi edge obvious and that gives the songs a modern tweak, I also keep getting reminded of Brit rockers The Almighty! It’s only in touches and I wouldn’t say there is a direct similarity but it’s the rawer more volatile sound of The Almighty that I detect – less polished and far less glamorous and sexual than their obvious inspirations from the LA strip.

Vocalist Michael Kehl doesn’t have the greatest vocal, but in fairness his style fits well in the sleaze genre and it does have a rebellious snarl to it. It’s in the guitar riffs that the album captures me with lots of energy and drive and there is some really infectious licks and riffs throughout. It’s those guitar hooks that bolster the songs on this album’s impact on me and I’m really impressed with guitarist Andreas Rohner’s creativity. It’s a decent album but for me it lacks that killer blow to make it truly stand out and end up spending a lot of time blasting out of my stereo. Sleaze fans should be more than happy with this album but I feel it needs just a couple more knock out choruses which could have elevated this album from decent to awesome very easily.

There is good mix in the variation of the songs, a few guitar riff driven songs, a couple of commercial flavoured ones with anthemic edges and some impactful power ballads. A Track that really stood out for me quite quickly is the mid-tempo ballad ‘Pieces Of A Broken Dream’ which I’m sure will be a big hit with established and genre fans in general.

Track Listing: Tales Untold / The Ghost and the Shadow / Love Stick Love / Romeo and Juliet / Pieces of a Broken Dream / Love, Lies, Loneliness / Thrillride / Vampires of the Night / Not Going Home / Hard To Let Go / Years / This Is A Love Song

Album Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Hard To Let Go