Unlike fellow rock revivalists and tourmates Steel Panther, Toronto hard rockers Diemonds aren’t out to make a punchline of rock ’n’ roll (or themselves) – they revere it. On their self-titled third album – their first as an independent band – that reverence is everywhere, from vocalist Priya Panda’s earnest lyrics to the way the band lithely navigates their guitar-driven sound.
Album opener Breathe starts things off in an energetic, unrelenting rush, establishing a compelling sense of conflict in a song about finding a moment of pause.
Centrepiece I Miss finds the group stretching themselves creatively by softening some of their edges in favour of a nostalgic, anthemic melody. Held in place by the rhythm section of Tyrone Buccione and Kyle Lecourt, the song’s solid groove frees up room for one of the album’s most memorable guitar solos, by C.C. Diemond.
The band has a clear commitment to their sound, but it’s undermined whenever they resort to cliché. I See Red, for instance, is rooted in a well-worn metaphor for anger in the rock realm, as their glammy predecessors in Warrant can attest That device becomes the basis for an uninspired rhyme scheme and, ultimately, a song that weighs down the album’s second half.
Whether it’s the first or latest in a discography, a self-titled album acts as a defining statement, a way for a band to communicate clearly that “this is us.” For Diemonds, that statement comes across most effectively when they let their songwriting and performances prove their rock reverence, and not the other way around. Top track: I Miss MR