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The biggest hurdle for a release like Diamond Construct’s self-titled debut LP to overcome is ensuring that a balls-to-the-wall, prog-metalcore record like this contains lasting impact, emotion, engagement and variation over the span of 12 songs. The Taree groups last EP, the eight tracks off 2016’s ‘Event Horizon‘, proved they were one of the better up-and-coming metalcore bands in Australia; borrowing the proggy ideas of Stories, the riff-driven, string-skipping of Architects, and the stupidly heavy instrumental nature of Meshuggah. I really quite liked that EP, and songs such as’The Complex Thought‘, ‘Feel The Sun‘, and ‘Oculus‘ and ‘Cryosleep‘ still hold up well three years on. Getting back to the now, while Diamond Construct make the jump over the proverbial hurdle with their new LP, and while they do hit the landing fine enough, it’s far from a perfect or overly memorable execution.
Because Diamond Construct’s music is so often like a blunt-force instrument. This album takes the bands prog-metalcore tip to repeatedly clobber you over the head with seriously low-tuned chugs, striking harmonics, stupendous breakdowns, aggressive vocals, and massive drops so frequently, it loses its impressive lustre relatively quickly. For the most part, it still works out okay, but their titular full-length does suffer from too many repeated ideas and tricks that it feels kinda tiresome to get through after a while. The constant rhythmic, djenty intensity of the record’s pounding pace is obviously intended and is no doubt what the band were aiming for, yet it results in the albums power dipping substantially before it even gets through most of Side-B. Due to the rigid consistency and over-familiarity of songwriting, approach and structure, the line between ‘solid’ and ‘meh’ blurs so quickly that this release jumps between the two sides feverishly so.
That being said, let’s start things off with the good shit; what this album does well. ‘Animus‘, by far one of Diamond Construct’s heaviest tracks, carries some truly hectic energy, tight production, Braden Groundwater’s slick guitar tones, and some real lyrical rage as the album’s opener. It settles you into the crushing feel of the remaining album that’s about to run a musical train right through you. In barely hitting the three-minute mark, and ending with some earth-shattering drops and bends, it’s a brutal first cut. It’s a big statement about who DC is and what they’re all about.
So too is the crunchy and emotionally-driven ‘Submerged‘, which drags you down into a watery pit of suffocating riffage, personal doubt, and Adam Kilpatrick’s tight, relentless drumming. Every musical respite acting as the next cue for the listener to be pulled back down into a monolithic metalcore under-current. It’s a downright non-stop number, rarely relinquishing its vice-grip around you. Even at four-minutes, it doesn’t get old or feel overdone. Both are great examples of DC hitting their musical delivery and songwriting stride; songs that stand tall as their best.
On a similar note, there’s my personal favourite moment, ‘Paradox‘. This mighty tracks bleeds huge bass-blowouts and heated, busy whammy-guitar action over spacious melodic guitar lines and reverberant clean vocals that slip through the chaotic metalcore ether. It nails a best-of-both-worlds situations for the upcoming Aussie bands’ sound: their crazed breakdowns but also their keen ear for melody. It’s far and above one of their best compositions, showing exactly what Diamond Construct are capable of when they balance out heaviness and riffs with atmospherics and melodious moments. It’s perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
Likewise, there’s the decent ‘Morphine Eyes‘. This one focuses heavily on Kynan Groundwater’s singing, the bass playing, some raining keys, gloomier and ambient guitar lines, and also offers larger emphasis on the groups use of electronics, blending the snappy live drums and heavier extended range guitars in slowly over time. Unlike certain other lacklustre songs here, ‘Morphine Eyes‘ has some nice layering going on and, get this, some actual dynamic weight. And that goes such a long way when featured on a record like this. Some out there may find this particular piece a little disconnected, but the contrast between the floating, lighter moments and its twisted, heavier metal passages is what does it for me. It’s something slightly different for DC, but I’ll fucking take it!
With some sick pick scrapes and cool electronic beats, the groovy ‘Hypno‘ becomes the record’s main highlight due to how much it stands out from the track-listing. The EDM direction behind ‘Hypno‘ is where I see the most potential in Diamond Construct’s sound. I’m not saying they need to cut-and-paste a song like this 12 times over and call it a day. Rather, it’s them showing listeners they can think outside the box. Doing so shows more individuality, something that this record desperately needs at times. A skilled yet young band like this getting weirder and bolder in their songwriting can do real wonders. Look at it this way: they’ve more than nailed the heavy, proggy metal stuff, so what else can they do? More often then not, the endless djent-worship of bigger bands becomes too much; it gets so goddamn repetitive, and the larger LP suffers. But ‘Hypno‘ is damn fine example of that “what else” I speak of.
Yet at it’s worst, at its most average, various points on this new Diamond Construct album become pastiches of their better counter-parts. What with a track like ‘Say It To My Face‘ being a key example. ‘Say It To My Face‘ has basically zero impact; just another super heavy yet forgettable metalcore song on an album filled to the brim with super heavy metalcore songs. As a complete tune, it sounds like filler and feels quite juvenile, lyrically speaking. It’s angry, no doubt, but offers little else of substance, neither in the music that makes it up, nor the very words that it spits. ‘Hailstorm‘ fits into the same category, with plenty of dissonant riffs and double time drumming that goes in one-ear and straight out the other. No matter how many breakdowns or how intricate the riff-work gets.
The racey ‘Dreamcatcher‘, even with it’s faster tempo and weird yet interesting filtered bridge part, doesn’t do much for the record when it’s sandwiched between the esteemed likes of ‘Animus‘ and ‘Paradox‘. It’s just one of those songs that makes me think: “Yep, this is definitely music, this is definitely something that exists.” Which is also how I’d describe ‘Wildfire‘; a track filled with hum-drum sections, with seldom freaky guitar runs that pique my interest before being smothered by the same ol’ pinches and chug patterns. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ‘Attitude‘ comes charged with plenty of, er, well, attitude. Sitting at less than 90-seconds, the only things ‘Attitude‘ has going for itself is that its tuned to a ludicrous double drop C (by pitching down their guitar DI) and being ridiculously angsty in it’s lyrical content.
For me, ‘Night Terrors‘ frustratingly lands somewhere in the middle ground of this album’s quality cross-fire, with not much to say in the way of it’s metal side or that cringey little spoken word line before the breakdown either. Yet ‘Night Terrors‘ also contains the best clean sung chorus of the whole record and a well-done electro/atmospheric bridge to boot. It just leaves me torn, honestly. Torn is the same feeling that fills me when it comes to the closing track, ‘Gloom‘. It’s a swirling, hard-hitting closer, for sure, yet as the record’s finale, it doesn’t feature anything that you won’t have been subjected to in the previous 11 songs. (It also highlights how this album loves to use EQ filters, swells, and distorted effects during the bridge or middle-eight sections. It’s a neat little production/mix, but one that gets over-worked.)
Diamond Construct’s self-titled debut LP comes armed with some real diamonds, but also a few repetitive rough patches too. It’s a decent listen that plays to the Taree groups prog-metalcore strengths, even if that does create some sore filler and some low-balled deliveries. ‘Diamond Construct’ is a balancing act between solid, demented moments like ‘Submerged’ and ‘Animus’, surprising yet refreshing takes like ‘Hypno’, with ‘Paradox’ and ‘Morphine Eyes’ lending much needed ambience and melody to the record’s flow. Yet it comes compacted with entirely un-provoking and undistinguished tracks , like ‘Dreamcatcher’, ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Hailstorm’.
The album’s larger themes of picking yourself up when you’re down, of overcoming challenges and depression is noble and commendable, and it does feel empowering when pooled with the heavy instrumentals and aggro vocals. But other times, the overly-familiar songs and structures weaken the lyrical messages and wider impact of the record. For the people who want something ‘riffy’ and ‘heavy’, and absolutely nothing else save for some rare melodic guitars and cleans vocals, this album will be right up their alley. Yet the unshakeable feeling of repetition and lack of variation is something that’s hard for me to stave off for long with this new Diamond Construct record. But the skill is there, the talent is there, and I fully expect the DC lads to grow better and stronger from here onward.