The best way to describe the DIABLO experience is as an extremely entertaining blend of Melodic Death Metal music and a devilish collection of percussive grunts that would not be out of place in a Hard Core band. To his credit, vocalist/guitarist Rainer Nygård proves able to pull off a vocal style almost akin to what you’d hear out of MACHINE HEAD or post-1992 PANTERA, but minus the annoying hipster/Hetfield worship and loaded with real attitude and aggression. Those familiar with his work on the famed Melodic Power Metal act DREAMTALE’s sophomore effort “Ocean’s Heart” will recount his role as the immortal beast that destroyed an entire kingdom, which his voice was perfectly suited for and continues to embody on this particular opus.
Although painted with a much more modernistic brush than previous albums, the groove and almost industrial aspects of this album don’t take away too much from the melodic underpinnings of their style. The songs tend to be mid-tempo in pacing and heavily reliant on standard drumming grooves and bass drones to provide the foundation of the arrangement, while the guitars tend away from the anti-melodic tribal plods that characterize mid-90s Half Thrash and instead offer up catchy melodic material. Good examples of the successful marriage of groove and melody occur in “Love Divided” and “Black Swan”, which give off little hints of NEVERMORE’s “This Godless Endeavor” with a slight helping of some AT THE GATES moments.
In fact, much of this album sounds like NEVERMORE’s past few studio efforts but with vocal work much more suited to the genre. “Queen Of Entity” even takes on some vocal characteristics of the famed Seattle outfit with a really eerie atmosphere during the verses, on top of which Rainer utilizes this really haunting clean vocal line that draws up images of ALICE IN CHAINS. “In Flesh” is one of those crushing groove monsters that could have been on PANTERA’S “Vulgar Display Of Power” if they’d ever thought to actually incorporate some atmospheric and melodic material to keep the whole thing from sounding redundant and boring, not to mention that DIABLO has the good sense to keep their songs short when playing in a groove oriented style.
Despite the general tendency of bands to avoid a lot of variety in this style, there are a few songs on here that buck the trend and trade off the mid-tempo groovy thuds for some variation. True to the Melodic Death roots that they started off in, “Omerta” sees the band putting forward an instrumental ballad with an otherworldly sound to it. The melodic devices in the first 2 minutes of the song are relaxing yet chilling, while the heavier outro gives this feeling of fleeing from a dying world. The album’s closer “Reptiles” also displays some really unique characteristics, though it’s a little closer overall to the groove sound that dominates the rest of the album. The melodic themes that creep in and out of the low end chug riffs definitely reach back towards the glory days of late 80s IRON MAIDEN, while Rainer puts forth his best assortment of angry shouts of the entire release.
If more bands of the Industrial/Modern/Groove Metal persuasion took an approach similar to this, I would probably not be bored to tears while listening to them. Likewise, if a lot of those older artists who decided to keep playing metal with rougher vocals had gotten singers who could actually pull the voice off, I’d have more time for them. If you like material in the vain of NEVERMORE, 90s PRONG and MACHINE HEAD but can do without the hipster sensibilities and out of tune vocals, DIABLO’s “Eternium” would be a good place to start.
(Online August 15, 2008)