'70s hard rock reduxDiamond Nights - Popsicle
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 1, 2005
Review by Tony BonyataNobody can say Diamond Nights haven't done their homework. In fact, the Queens, NY-based quartet have apparently studied the hard rock textbooks of the 1970s so well you're likely think you're listening to long lost outtakes of some of the musical greats from that decade, when, in fact, it's really their new debut album Popsicle.
From the very onset of these dozen rockers, vocalist Morgan Phalen draws an immediate lineage to Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott with his gruff, low, sexually-charged vocal delivery on "Destination Diamonds." The rhythms and chugging guitar riff on that opening track along with the base, hard rocking swagger of the proceeding track "Saturday Fantastic" likewise pays homage to Thin Lizzy, albeit without the ever-present piercing twin lead guitars that was a trademark of that band.
But that is far from the only direct influence heard from this act. On the quaking "It's A Shokka" there's enough of an early Black Sabbath sound to make original bandmembers Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill want to permanently reform - if only to stake claim as the progenitors of heavy metal (much in the same way post-punkers Gang of Four recently did in response to the success of Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chefs and a host of other disciples following in their footsteps). On the snaky number "Red Hex," Phalen's vocals effortlessly ooze with the dirty sensuality of T. Rex's Marc Bolan, while a bloodcurdling backing scream spikes the song's verses with all the venom of early Led Zeppelin and Lucifer's Friend. Mixing things up even more is the skittish "Drip Drip," which melds a simple, angular guitar riff with the rasta vocal delivery of Bob Marley before his early morning regiment of ganja.
Despite all of the backpedaling these guys do, it still somehow comes off as fresh and, even more so, fun. While a band like The Darkness, who also draw heavily from '70s rockers (and more specifically Queen), comes off like a cartoonish one-trick pony, Diamond Nights instead deliver one strong composition after another, all with nods to those great bands from thirty years ago that we wish were still around today. This is as close as we've gotten for quite some time, so eat it up.
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