Recently I’ve reviewed bands from Argentina (42 Decibel), Ukraine (WindRunners), Norway (Requinox), Australia (Destroy She Said) and Switzerland (Gloria Volt). Proof, should any be needed, that Uber Rock is all about giving as much coverage to bands from all over the world as Bret Michaels’ bandanna gives to his receding hairline (i.e fucking loads). And every so often something really exciting comes along, a band from a country that doesn’t really have a strong showing on the world map throws up something remarkable. This time it’s down to Slovenia to surprise with the rather excellent ‘Last Man Standing’ from the band Black Diamond.
Written primarily by guitarists Igor Manasijevic and Nejc Vidmar (Black Diamond is their baby) ‘Last Man Standing’ is the culmination of six years’ work and recording. As such there are no less than four different singers tackling the twin guitarists material over the course of the ten impressive tracks that make up the album and somewhat surprisingly that doesn’t distract you as a listener one bit, such is the quality of the songs they have to work with.
Being influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica has given them a mature sounding quality to their tunes which speaks volumes about the seriousness with which these guys take their mission. ‘Opus 91-96’ is a near seven minute epic that opens the album with just a hint of middle eastern promise lurking beneath the flowing rhythms. Zanil Tataj is the vocalist who handles the majority of ‘Last Man Standing’, his tone is similar to Lizzy Borden, sharp and clear, a little bit sinister when it needs to be and tender when it doesn’t. The light and shadows that reside in songs like ‘Hold Me Tonight’ and ‘The Thing That Couldn’t Die’ highlight this perfectly.
‘The Edge Of Sanity’ is another fine example of what Black Diamond are capable of. It drifts in and out of delicacy with a beautiful structure that surges one minute and settles calmly the next. This softer, more melodic side is balanced perfectly by the heaving storm that is their signature tune ‘Black Diamond’. Above all else ‘Last Man Standing’ shows what accomplished songwriters Manasijevic and Vidmar are.
Now sporting a solid line-up with Zanil a permanent fixture behind the mic Black Diamond are ready to break out of Slovenia and take on the world. There’s some really cool stuff contained on ‘Last Man Standing’ making Black Diamond a band for fans of traditional metal with a progressive edge to keep a watchful eye on. Plenty of potential to go further here. Slovenia certainly get points on the board for this offering to the Ubervision song contest.