|Review: Diamond Plate - Relativity|
Year released: 2009
Genre: Thrash Metal
Review online: November 26, 2009
Reviewed by: Mike Henn
Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (16 Votes)
Thrash is a strange beast. It thrives off raw energy and pure aggression, and it will almost always fail if either of those two components is taken away. A group playing this style could be technically proficient like Coroner, highly melodic like Artillery, or just fucking angry like Sadus, but they all slay because they carry the two prerequisites. Despite all of the subtle nuances between the variations, you can always tell Thrash apart from Punk, Death Metal, Traditional Metal, or whatever outside source the particular band may be leaning towards. Thrash is one of the most restrictive genres within metal, yet it is without a doubt one of my absolute favorites, and I know for damn sure that there are millions who agree with me. Since it is such a widely loved genre, there are always going to be debates about who is/was the best. For my money, Overkill's debut is the best album of the glory days (1980s), Destruction's The Antichrist is the best full-length of this decade, and Illinoisan power trio, Diamond Plate is both the most promising, and the fucking best band of the decade.
Now, that's a bold statement to make. Thrash has made quite a resurgence lately, so there is now a whole slew of new blood to choose from, and I firmly believe that three kids from the ass end of a state that looks like The Cat in the Hat murder all of their contemporaries in virtually every department. Nothing showcases my claim quite as extravagantly as their live show, but that can't be reviewed here, so we'll have to settle for their current latest extended play, Relativity.
For all the talk I talk, Konrad Kupiec walks triple the walk. His shredding skills are on full display throughout the duration of all four slabs of thrashing insanity found here, and never once does a riff sound stale, never once does a lead sound lifted or uninspired, and never once does he ever take his foot off the gas. While yeah, most listeners who know which flag Kreator raises will realize that there is a fairly strong Destruction and Metallica influence at work here, but the songs always sound just as good as the former and twice as intense as the latter. Jim's drumming has improved since the already fantastic At the Mountains of Madness, tearing out some precise and lip flapping insane double bass in the title track and "Criminal Justice". And rounding out the trio is John Macak, whose bass is, like the previous EP, strangely low in the mix for being a three piece band, but it's neither drowned out nor unnecessary, so he does his job just about perfectly. As a vocalist, he's a bit lacking (like damn near every Thrash band that formed post-2000), but his extremely young age and constant ferocity can be used as an excuse. I'd be hard pressed to find a guy who can scream as angrily and as often as him while still keeping a coherent voice. But like almost everything else, this is still an improvement over their previous work, which was stellar to begin with.
Previous fans are really only getting one new song, and that song would be "Relativity". It's so far their longest recorded track, and is stuffed to the gills with riffs that Destruction probably reluctantly abandoned in the forest because they just had too many fucking riffs already and couldn't keep track of them all. Luckily, Diamond Plate found them and raised them to be powerful, stomping, furious warriors that could make the Colossus of Rhodes fear imminent death. There is a little less than 8 minutes in the track, but I could swear there are at least 54 riffs, and not a one of them sucks. Hell, if your heart doesn't start pumping and your fist doesn't start duking children when the riff at 4:18 starts up, then I don't want to fucking know you. "Casualty of War", "At the Mountains of Madness", and "Criminal Justice" are all rerecorded versions of earlier songs, so OG fans won't hear anything new apart from great old songs with a shiny new production. All three of them are completely worth one's time regardless, "At the Mountains of Madness" in particular, mainly because that chorus is one of the coolest damn things I've heard in years, despite the fact that it's only one phrase. The stomping break in "Criminal Justice" is also a nice throwback to one of Anthrax's more crushing moments.
The only bad things I have to say about this are that the vocalist still isn't quite what the music demands, although he's getting closer, and the production is a little lacking. Everything sounds clear, and the several guitar overdubs keep the overall feel and intensity up while Konrad conjures Mustaine's spirit for the solos, but the rhythm section still has a few bugs to work out. The snare sounds both papery and pingy, and the bass is too quiet (you can actually hear the strings clanking as he plucks louder than the notes themselves at times). But those two small problems aren't even remotely pressing enough to hinder the enjoyment of the rest of the record. I claim that this group of high schoolers is the best Thrash band of the decade for two reasons. One, they are currently kicking the shit out of damn near all of their contemporaries and manage to upstage nearly every band they play with. Two, they have yet to disappoint and they are continually improving. They strive to get a little faster, a little more complex, and a little more vicious with each new song, and they are showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. They're young, and they continually learn, adapt, and improve. Those three things will lead to creativity and longevity, and the former is something this scene as a whole really needs, and the latter is something that the band truly deserves. If Relativity is a harbinger of their future, then I foresee nothing but good things for Diamond Plate, and I strongly urge that every thrasher give them a listen.
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