The beginnings of a slovenian band Black Diamond go back in 2005, when guitarists Igor Manasijevič and Nejc Vidmar started playing together. With one goal – to make high profile heavy metal with their own elements, which would bring the freshness to the sound.

They’ve started to look for other members and have found some in their local environment, but those left them soon, because they couldn’t cope the high goals and standards Black Diamond set for themselves. Therefore Igor and Nejc had to look for new musicians in a wider area.

Today, besides of the two of them, the band consists of Žanil Tataj Žak (Divlje jagode, Mary Rose) who’s one of the best singers in the area, Robert Kovačič, who’s played with Belphegor and Urban Medič from a progressive metal band Prospect. Last Man Standing is the first Black Diamond’s album and it was recorded in Studio Evolucija with help of producer Simon Jovanovič. They state that there’s nothing left to coincidence with them, so they’ve recorded this album as many times as there was needed for them to be completely satisfied with the result. And that’s what lasted for long eight years.

Beside being recorded, album was also produced and mixed in Studio Evolucija, but mastering was done by well known Finn Mika Jussila at Finnvox. Last man standing presents heavy metal as it should be, played from the heart, with dynamic and organic sound. Even if they often sound like Iron Maiden, Žak’s vocal has its own, characteristical, powerful colour with very wide range. He comes to amazing performance and similarities with Bruce Dickinson mostly in the choruses of the songs.

Album is dominated by a bit longer songs. Six of ten songs are longer than 6 minutes, and characteristics of most of the songs are also intro instrumentrals, like in the first “Opus 91-96″ or “The Edge Of Sanity”. Even though their length, the songs are well arranged and aren’t  boring. Just the contrary, they keep the interest of a listener with constant changes of rhytm and tempo. Lyrically, the songs are focusing on the everyday stories, wars and dreamings, with brutally realistic and sad stories.

Starting song, “Opus 91-96″ is an anti-war, anthemic song that begins with a bit dark melody, but soon grow into a mid tempo melodies, which are changing all the time. “The Edge Of Sanity” shows us a good balance between lead guitars and a bit darker notes. “Dreams Of Tomorrow” is one of the longest songs and is meeting progressive genre. It’s defined by constant tempo and rhytm changes, and layered vocals which vary from the low at the beginning, to high at multi-part choruses. “Hold Me Tonight” is a clean, sensitive ballad, which consists of beautiful clean sections and is fundamentally in the style of Maiden. It can be counted as one of the best songs on the album besides “Dreams Of Tomorrow” and “Black Diamond”.

“Black Diamond” includes some progressive elements and is telling the story of impoverished person, prisoned in a time of present day dictature, who is having a dialogue with his son. The only song sang in Slovene is “Lažne Zvezde”, which is singing about the hypocrisy between friends. It consists of some very good guitar riffs and acoustic guitar parts with rich vocals.

Last song of the album, “Tears In Eyes”, is another atmospheric ballad of a dark tone and dark topic of abuse. Besides Samo Urbančič, the duel on this one is fulfilled by Sandra Tomovič.

The positive side of Black Diamond is, that they don’t repeat typical anthemic riffs. Their songs consist of more complex, melodic riffs and are stepping a little bit outside of heavy metal and into progressive frame. This kind of a sound is nothing especially new, but even though the similarities with Iron Maiden, vocally for sure, the band takes the characteristics of this giants of metal, to use them in creating their own sound. Black Diamond shows the quality of a metal music in this and neighbouring areas and we hope that we won’t need to wait for the second album too long. Especially if it’s gonna be as good or even better than “Last Man Standing”.

Rating 3,5/5

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