Black Diamonds - 'Once Upon A Time'

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Black Diamonds - 'Once Upon A Time'

Sleaze fans should be more than happy with this album.

'Once Upon A Time' is the third album from Switzerland's Sleaze-tinged Heavy Rockers Black Diamonds. This album wears its influences clearly and those Mötley Crüe similarities frequently pop up, especially in the guitar riffs. Other LA Sunset Strip bands are obviously also a heavy influence on the group's song-writing and attitude-driven performances. It's loud and rambunctious and guitar riff-driven Rock, but the choruses are boosted by being 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 at the same time it doesn't feel retro. These guys fit in well with the current newer wave of Sleaze Rock, especially those emerging from Scandinavia. While the LA Strip influence is clear, the Scandi edge 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 TA that I detect – less polished and far less glamorous and sexual than their obvious inspirations from the LA.

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 these guitar hooks that bolster the songs and I'm really impressed with guitarist Andreas Rohner's creativity. It's a decent album overall, but for me it lacks that killer blow to make it truly a stand out and one to spend a lot of time with blasting it 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 quite quickly for me 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.

Paul Woodward

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