Review: Black Diamonds – No-Tell Hotel
Metalopolis Records (March 12th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Black Diamonds return with their fourth album ‘No-Tell Hotel‘, a collection of songs that is more diverse than what I would normally be expecting from a band from Switzerland. You want Party songs? Country-tinged? Ballads? Dark/heavy material? This album has all of that and while that is highly respectable, it’s even more impressive when they pull off all those styles and construct some wonderfully memorable songs, which this album has in spades.
Let’s talk about some highlights. First single ‘Evil Twin‘ is my own personal reviewer kryptonite: Hard rocking songs with a tinge of horror. Sinister-type vocals from both lead singer/rhythm guitarist Michael Kehl and bassist Andi Fassler add to the Jekyll and Hyde dynamic and work oh so well.
Third single ‘Lonesome Road‘ is an acoustic based, country-inspired song that bands like Cinderella and Tesla have mastered over the years. Its theme about reminiscing about the past and seeing what made us who we are in the present is constructed as well as it would be by the music veterans previously mentioned. This country influence also extends to ‘Outlaw‘, but in a completely different way, with its Old West sounds, old-timey melody, and incredibly catchy chorus.
Living your best life and overcoming adversity is the theme of three distinct songs: ‘My Fate‘, ‘Reaching For The Stars‘ and ‘Turn To Dust‘. All three rockers succeed in picking you up if you’re feeling down. While all three are great, ‘Reaching For The Stars‘ is the stand out, a mid-tempo rocker with sparse double bass drums in the second verse and the two guitarists playing two distinct chord progressions. It’s subtle stuff, but those distinctions keep things interesting and make it stand out from the other tracks.
The album contains two ballads and of those ‘Anytime‘ is the one I kept returning to, in order to pick up on all the intricacies. While the piano is present throughout the song, the producer makes the wise decision to bring it to the forefront at key points in the song, namely the second verse/bridge to the chorus as well as the ending of the song. Beautiful stuff.
There are a few songs that did not impress me. Second single ‘Saturday‘, a fun party-type song about (you guessed it) the weekend, has a chorus that does not work for me, with its awkward spelling out and pronunciation of the title. ‘The Island‘, while certainly ambitious and different from any other track on the album, has a melody that did not thrill me. The calypso drums and jungle sounds after the guitar solo bring the song to a screeching halt and do the song no favors.
These few weaker songs should not deter anyone from checking out this album. While they have several releases under their belt, the one album I am familiar with is their last one ‘Once Upon A Time‘. This is a marked improvement from that album in terms of style, ambition, and catchy melodies. The album is so good, I will be purchasing it on CD, even though technically I own it through this review. You may ask why. Simple, I want to support the band and ensure future releases. You should support this album as well.