Review by Darren Smith for MPM
I have to start this review with a quick trip to the confessional as I must admit to not being aware of Black Diamonds before they started releasing tracks in the build up to the release of “No-Tell Hotel”.
I cannot remember a time when our hypothetical paths had crossed and for that I am truly regretful and apologetic. I only say that as it took no more than a minute of me putting this absolute gem of an album into my stereo to realise what an unfortunate position that put me in.
After all, that is 16 years of my life that I cant get back, where I could have been enjoying the music of these fantastic Swiss rockers.
Black Diamonds who are a mighty fine four piece from St. Gallen, in the Rhine Valley in Switzerland, formed in 2004. “No-Tell Hotel”, which has recently been released on Metalapolis Records is their fourth studio album and the first since 2017’s “Once Upon A Time”. Recorded and produced by bassist Andi Barrels, it was mixed and mastered by Max Morton at Valhalla Sound Studios.
Listening to “No-Tell Hotel” gives me all the same happy feelings that I got when I was first listening to rock and metal in the Eighties. In fact, it is like the band have hooked themselves up with a Delorean, taken a trip back to that bygone era and had a good scout around, before travelling back to the present day, with a boot full of all the best bits from the scene back then and used them to make an absolutely head spinning slice of sleazy glam metal that meets the requirements of the music scene in the 2020’s to perfection.
No-Tell Hotel” is not just a good album, it is insanely good and should be a part of any discerning rock fans summer soundtrack in 2021.
Album title track “No-Tell Hotel” kickstarts what is nearly 50 minutes of rock heaven with a blistering hot opening guitar salvo along with some pummelling drums that just crash straight into your sola plexus time and time again.
This tune really sets the tone for the mind melting helping of sleazy glam metal that is about to unfold before you. My advice, is sit tight, buckle up and enjoy the incoming 12 tales of the hotel guests that the band are about to relay to you.
“Evil Twin” is an absolute brute of a tune and one of my favourites on the album. It is a fast paced no nonsense rocker full of crunching guitars, a monumental guitar solo and a snarling vocal performance that draws you into the lyrics and gets you thinking about situations in your own life. Wow!
After that rip-snorting opening double header, you get a little respite with the acoustic intro to “Lonesome Road”. It is short lived though as the track soon kicks into a beautiful mid-tempo rocker that combines electric and acoustic guitar perfectly which take the track onto another level and should see it become a live favourite.
This leads into “Forever Wild”, a track that kicks off with a crunching guitar riff and a raspy vocal, reminiscent of Joe Elliott, before the thundering drums fire up and you have to hold on for dear life as the band floors the accelerator on an absolutely sizzling number.
Next up is “Saturday” which if it was an infection, would be more contagious than coronavirus. Catchy doesn’t even begin to cover it! From the clapping intro, the la la la’s and the sing-a-long chorus’s, this really is just made to get you involved and it does the job to perfection.
I mean after all, who is never ever ready for the ‘S.A.T..UR..Day baby’. If you want feelgood music, then this is it, you won’t need anything else as Black Diamonds have produced and packaged it all in one breath-taking bundle right here.
“Anytime”, with its ticking clock intro is a beautiful ballad full of piano and strings. It has those layered harmonious backing vocals that Def Leppard do so well and pulls on so many influences from major bands that were around back in the day.
This is a power ballad, built for arenas and stadiums complete with some stunning bluesy guitar work that turns a stunning track into a moment of sheer magnificence. Make sure you turn the lights down and have you lighter or phone torch to the ready to get the full feel of this totally delectable track.
“The Island” is up next. The sound of waves lapping on the shore, heralds its arrival before more thumping drums and a scintillating swirling riff take the track into an appealing slice of up tempo rock for the summer.
This is rock music that is designed to get the happy hormones flowing throughout your body and as the saying goes “It does what it says on the tin”. When the steel drum starts up, it is “fait accompli” as you are mentally whisked away to a land of white beaches, blue skies and crystal clear seas.
“My Fate” keeps the pace of the album going at a fair old lick. The beat and rhythm along with the riff are just compelling and like all the tracks on offer here, includes a crazily good guitar solo.
A fantastic slab of unadulterated radio friendly rock. Fantastic! “Hand in Hand” follows which slows things down, to give you the listener, a much needed rest just when it is most needed.
This is another sumptuous power ballad, the type that used to get lapped up by Music Television channels and programmes and shoot bands into the world of mega stardom. What a shame that the world has changed so drastically as I am sure it could do exactly the same for Black Diamonds if the opportunity was there.
“Reaching For The Stars” takes us into the last quarter of the album with yet another infectious beat that sees the pace picked right back up again. It is yet another accomplished and polished slice of melodic rock/metal that makes sure your feet and hands are getting a full on bootcamp style workout. If they aren’t tired already, they sure will be after this mouthwatering number.
That just leaves two tracks, which are in themselves, chalk and cheese but both equally alluring. First up is “Turn To Dust”, an absolute belter of a tune that comes complete with the meatiest of meaty riffs and enough ‘woah woah’s’ to keep you singing for many a moment.
That just leaves “Outlaw” which has an intro that comes galloping out of your speakers. There is a real ‘western’ feel to this album closer and you can imagine silver screen footage with this being played as the cowboys come charging into town.
The fiddle section just accentuates that vibe and almost inspires a Stetson, a bit of grass in the corner of the mouth and a couple of pistols on each hip as it plays. What a brilliant and completely leftfield way to bring “No-Tell Hotel” to a close.
There was a time, back in the ever distancing past that albums of this quality and ilk came out every Monday although I fear I am showing my age there.
They honestly used to come out by the bucketload, and certainly left record shops by the carrier bag load and quite rightly so. What Black Diamonds have released here is an album of feelgood rock n fucking roll of the highest calibre and if you want my opinion, it needs shouting about from every rooftop.
I will finish by saying that, in a year when we have already had some fantastic releases, “No-Tell Hotel” is up there with the best of them and I dare say when the polls get done in a few months, it will find itself mentioned more than a few times. Take it from me, “No-Tell Hotel” has got ‘everything you want’.
Black Diamonds are
Mich Kehl – Lead Vocals, Rhythm, Acoustic & Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Andi Barrels – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Strings & Lead Vocals on “Forever Wild”
Manu Peng – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals, Atmosphere & Sound FX
Chris Blade Johnson – Lead & Rhythm Guitars and Backing Vocals
Andreas Frei – Piano & String arrangement on “Anytime”
Max Morton – Fiddle on “Outlaw”
No-Tell Hotel Tracklisting
1 – No-Tell Hotel
2 – Evil Twin
3 – Lonesome Road
4 – Forever Wild
5 – Saturday
6 – Anytime
7 – The Island
8 – My Fate
9 – Hand in Hand
10 – Reaching For The Stars
11 – Turn To Dust
12 – Outlaw
Find us here: Website: https://www.blackdiamondsrock.com