Review: Black Diamonds – Floor 13

Review: Black Diamonds – Floor 13

Metalapolis Records (February 25th, 2022)

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

If I could augment any of my past reviews from this year, it would be my review of the Black Diamonds’ ‘No-Tell Hotel’ album. I gave the album a favorable review, but throughout the year, I found the album had grown on me as I kept returning to listen to it, more so than most releases. It is now part of my Top 3 releases for the year. The band decided to give their fans a holdover gift before they begin recording their next album by releasing ‘Floor 13’, a nine song compilation of live tracks, cover tunes, and other assorted material.

Let’s start with the four live tracks. Three of them are from their last album and one is a cover.  While I personally would have selected some other tracks from the album, ‘Turn To Dust‘, ‘My Fate’, and the title track all sound great, with none of the luster from the tracks lost in a live setting. The band does falter with their live cover version of Dio’s ‘Rainbow In The Dark’, a song that should never be done without live or canned keyboards. Playing those keyboard parts on a guitar does not sound right. This is a song that is outside of their wheelhouse. You need to be a powerhouse vocalist to pull off a song like this. As solid as Mich Kehl is, he does not give the power a song like this demands.

Moving on to the two studio covers, one is for Gary Moore’s ‘Out In The Fields’ and the other is the Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. The band does justice to both, but of the two, I prefer the Rolling Stones cover. It meshes well with the signature Black Diamonds sound and I really appreciate the enunciations from Mich Kehl. After all these years, I finally understand all of the lyrics to the song.

As for the others, there’s a re-release of sorts here with Black Diamonds’ first single from 2011.  ‘Black Thunder’ is a song I never heard before, but wish I had. This is a powerful track and if you don’t own it, you absolutely should. A heavy, thick groove and a melody as catchy as anything they’ve released. Their last single from their last album (‘Reaching For The Stars’) gets an acoustic version here. It’s one of my favorites from the previous album, but the dynamics of the original are lost in this acoustic translation and this leaves the song flat and unremarkable.

The final “track” is ‘Do-Tell Hotel’, a close to eight minute speak session where the band discusses how ‘No-Tell Hotel‘ came to be, with snippets of demos played. Great for a behind the scenes look, but one of those tracks you will only play once or twice. Acceptable to hear if you buy the album or stream it online but should not be bought as a stand alone track.

Fans of the band will lap this up and it’s a great way to keep them talking while the band begins making their next album. While I would not use the word essential, it certainly should be checked out as six of the nine tracks here are worth purchasing.