Review Summary: The pulse of Diamond Plate's heart is beating faster than on the band's debut album, but the flaws are still there.
Diamond Plate have been together for longer than people would think. After all, they did form whilst they were still in high school, inked a deal with Earache two months after graduating and have now released two albums, the second entitled Pulse
. At the risk of many people casting them off as simply another up-and-coming thrash metal band wanting to relive the good old 80s scene, Diamond Plate certainly manage to show off their talented chops, but that doesn't stop the band's latest album from becoming a rather unhealthy mix of mediocre, sub-standard thrash and thought-provoking, well written numbers which hint at more than a little influence of extreme progressive metal via early Meshuggah.
The first three songs on Pulse are well below average to say the least. Opener “Walking backwards” is decent enough musically, but with raw yet virtually unlistenable vocals, a predictable rhythm section and a slightly muddied production, many fans of extreme metal would be turned off instantly. Both “All of it” and “The price you pay” follow in a similar way, yet the first impression becomes much better when “Dance with reality” starts playing. The vocals are still lacklustre, but at least the musicianship seems to be more focused than ever before. The drums in particular prove the most prominent instrument, and few would argue that the solos, sharp albeit brief, are delightful to a casual die-hard fan of by-the-numbers thrash. Unfortunately the album almost falls flat on its face when “Bottom of the glass” and very disappointing closer “Running dry” arrive, since the musicianship here is much weaker than on Pulse
's other songs.
However, some songs on Pulse really do shine. The problem is, is that these songs only seem to appear midway through the album, and Pulse
could be slightly better had “Still dreaming” or “Rainmaker” been pushed to the fore. The former is a beautiful piece of music, the doomy, progressive elements and gradual yet remarkably written melodies contributing to what is definitely Pulse
's centrepiece. Matt Ares' vocals this time round are also very well sung, clean but with a slight hint of melancholy giving the song an even doomier flourish, and it's only a matter of time before all three instruments collide to make for a tight, precise rhythm section which strongly resembles any song on Meshuggah's debut album. “Rainmaker” follows the same sort of style, but is somewhat more aggressive in tone and certainly has a more twisted idea of mixing slow, brooding soundscapes with a focus on dynamic musicianship and solid instrumentation. Even the shorter instrumental “Persistence of memory” revels in powerful, epic melodies and is charged to maximum velocity as the song progresses to an impressive finish.
All this said, Diamond Plate's latest album is an inconsistently mixed bag, but if you give the more focused songs such as “Still dreaming” and “Rainmaker” a chance, you can really see where the band are trying to wander musically. The more thrash-oriented songs seem to suffer the most, but Pulse
is generally a good progression from the band's debut album. Let's hope next time they craft an album that focuses much more on songwriting which takes Diamond Plate out of their comfort zone, because this is certainly where they succeed the most.