This is a review, for the writing of which I’ve spent more time than for any other in my life. Therefore it is a little bit different than all the others. Last Man Standing is an album, which doesn’t have a rival in slovenian metal scene. All the previous attempts to combine progressive and heavy metal look just pale compared to this diamond and there’s a good reason for that. It was being made for a long time. I know Nejc, one of the fathers of this project, for a long time and he’s always been “threatening” with genious project, he was telling he had. After years of silence, that was occasionally interrupted by a demo or an instrumental, in this spring we were finally able to hold in our hands Black Diamond’s first album, Last Man Standing.
And what an album this is! We, the connoisseurs of the scene were very thrilled by the sole information, that the singing on the album was done by Žanil Tataj – Žak, who is, without any doubt, the best singer of this wider region. Maybe the only singer who can be compared to him is Sergej Škofljanec (wx-Requiem, San Di Ego). Žak has left his trademark in groups like Divlje Jagode, Turbo and Mary Rose already. The line-up aside from Nejc Vidmar and Igor Manasijevič, consists of Robert Kovačič (Scaffold) on drums and Urban Medič (Prospect) on bass. As vocal guests we can hear Simon Jovanovič (ex-Prospect) and Samo Urbančič, who is a kind of a third member and sponsor of the band, singing Tears In Eyes in a duel with Sandra Tomovič. The music of Black Diamond is the best of what this genre can offer. These ten songs, which last a bit over an hour, might make someone thinking it’s overstreched, but Igor and Nejc precisely placed every riff, vocal melody and solo and everything turns out perfectly natural, a perfect fusion of rhytms and melodies. Songs often surprise us, there are many tempo and rhytm changes, but everything appears way more refined than the “showmewhatyoucan” groups a la Dream Theater. Black Diamond always make their music sound epic, but yet not pathetical, what often happens in such a position; their polished lyrics often make me comparing them with classical Queensrÿche. Our heroes often sound like Seattleites in “Operation: Mindrime” era, especially Žak, whose vocal is in highest registers very blendable with one of Geoff Tate. If I’d really want to find a needle in a haystack, there is none to be found at performance on this album. Maybe my only remark would be that they very rarely do a faster gallop, which would be accelerated with a supersonic solo. But I believe they will treat us by that on one of their coming albums. Last Man Standing is very perfective from the point of sound and physical shape too. Recording and producing was done by Simon Jovanovič from Studio Evolucija and mastering by legendary Finn Mika Jussila (Deep purple, Nightwish), while the artist behind the really top artwork is Péter Sallai.
Maybe you’ve noticed, that I didn’t name any songtitles in this review. I’ve started to write this review a few times, but I’ve always erased it. Last Man Standing simply doesn’t need to be dissected piece by piece. It’s a whole unit, for which I think it should be kept this way and listened to as a whole. Many times. So I’m inviting all the enthusiasts to take their time and do that as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.