Review: Diamond Lane – Terrorizer

For decades now growling has been at the forefront of heavy metal, leading a vast majority of modern acts. Seemingly out of nowhere, clean vocals are making are making a determined comeback and leading the charge is California’s Diamond Lane.

Opening the album with a fast tempo acoustic guitar reminiscent of a southern rock tune, ‘The Enemy’ quickly kicks into fast riffing and drumming followed shortly by the high screams of singer, Brandon Baumann. Baumann’s NWBHM inspired vocals are the crown jewel of this tune and are nicely complemented by a fast and heavy rhythm, group chants, vocal harmonies, and skillful guitar solos. Simply put, ‘The Enemy’ has all of the elements of a great album opener.

Taking a decidedly hard rock approach with lyrics centered on relationship issues ‘My Favorite Kind of Victim,’ is no less a hard hitting tune with an addicting groove. Guitarists Ian McLaren and Jarret Reis show their skills with fast and technical fretwork, while drummer Dave Vandigitty and bassist Ray Zhang keep a strong beat and rhythm throughout, especially during another excellent guitar solo. Once more, Baumann’s impressive vocal range strikes hard, particularly his affinity for hitting the high notes, catching the listener’s ear, making for an all-around great song.

Kicking off some heavy groove riffs, driving bass and technical drums, ‘Cheating Death’ is the heaviest song thus far. Baumann’s vocals rock between his high and mid range, and are complemented by his bandmates’ vocal harmonies perfectly. Though a bit on the simplistic side, the addition of a second guitar solo wins this song extra praise – if Diamond Lane does one thing exceptionally well, it’s their guitar work.

Taking a slower, more reserved approach for much of the song, ‘Slow Destruction’ is a fitting title for this tune. It’s something of a hybrid between a power ballad and a standard rock tune, for while the beat and rhythm is substantially slower than early tracks, the song kicks up the tempo and distortion midway through to make way for yet another wild guitar solo. Also, despite the more ballad-like nature of this track, Baumann doesn’t let up on his vocals, hitting those high notes at the perfect moment – This is especially true at the tail end when he holds a high note for a whopping seven seconds without error.

If any one of the songs had to be chosen to be the album’s first single it would surely be ‘Life to Lose.’ Opening with a melodic lead guitar and heavy rhythm section, the song quickly kicks up the speed without losing the technicality that we’ve become accustomed to. Baumann’s vocals are bit more reserved this time around, staying around his mid-range for the most part, and vocal harmonies are much more prominent here. Nonetheless, he hits the highs quite often, curing that nagging itch when needed. By far, the most entertaining part of the track is the guitar duel midway, for both guitarists supremely show off their skills, while vying for the upper hand before falling back in place and finishing out the track on equal terms.

‘Kiss the Ring’ is certainly another candidate for the single treatment. Opening with a fast and heavy rhythm section and melodic guitars, the track quickly earns praise before slowing down a bit upon the entrance of Baumann. Utilizing his mid-range vocals once more, the strength of this song is the powerfully inspirational lyrics, group chanting, vocal harmonies, and of course, high degree of technicality in the music itself. That being said, this is certainly one of the songs that will have the fans shouting along whenever it’s played live.

If one song had to be considered the weakest on the album it would be ‘Hopeless Romantic.’ While certainly not a bad tune, it’s another hard ballad that often switches between a fast and slow rhythm, and acoustic and distorted guitar, all while keeping a strong beat. As expected, the strongest aspect of this track is Baumann’s powerful vocal delivery and the fact that the lead guitar is front and center with a well-crafted solo midway through with a much more progressive influence than anything prior.

‘New Model’ is without question the best track on the entire album. With it, Diamond Lane takes everything that makes their songs great and combines them into a song that’s a cut above the rest. In case you haven’t caught on, wild guitar solos, a heavy, driving rhythm, group chants, high vocals, and vocal harmonies are the band’s strong suits. As such, each one of these characteristics are arranged perfectly to make this the album’s defining track.

Ending with the album’s first true ballad is a questionable move. Nonetheless, Diamond Lane does it well with ‘Drift.’ As expected, Baumann easily captures the soul of the song with a reserved singing voice over simple guitar strumming before the drums, bass, distortion, and high pitch screams kick in for a few moments of head banging bliss. The song then slips into one of the most complex solos on the album, before melting into a strong finish that ends where the song started.

The blend of classic rock singing with modern heavy metal is certainly hitting its stride on the underground American scene making up and coming American bands more attractive to European listeners. That being said, Diamond Lane could be the next big thing to emerge from the United States, especially if they build upon what they’ve started with ‘Terrorizer.’ 10/10

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