Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 10 February, 2015
Kickin' hard time, risin'...
Belgian (Antwerp) rockers Diablo Blvd are certainly moving up in the metal world. Follow the Deadlights might be the band’s third long player but it is their first for Nuclear Blast after previously releasing two full lengths and two EPs. They must be doing something right to get the attention of this legendary metal label. As well as their new label, the band have recently finished tours with Machine Head and also Life of Agony and are set to hit the road with Epica and Dragonforce soon as well. Things are certainly looking up for the quintet.
It’s easy to see why as well. There’s a lot to like about Follow the Deadlights. The band’s name is not the only thing that shows their love of Corrosion of Conformity. The songs are not short on infectious, groovy riffs that at times shift slightly from hard rock more towards metal edged riffs. Overall, their mix of sludge ridden rock ‘n’ roll sounds like the bastard child of The Cult, Down, and Corrosion of Conformity laced with splashes of Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society and Danzig. The songs are typically around the four and a half minute mark, never overstaying their welcome whilst changing things up enough, keeping the groove flowing and the listener’s attention held. On top of all of that is the interesting but equally engaging vocals of notorious stand-up-comedian-come-vocalist Alex Agnew. Agnew’s vocals, for the most part, are a very distinct blend of Ian Astbury (The Cult) and Glenn Danzig (The Misfits, Danzig). The combination works well and ultimately gives the listener the full package to digest.
The key to the album’s infectious nature are the ever present hooks that ooze effortlessly from each of the ten tracks on Follow the Deadlights. No matter the song, no matter the tempo, no matter the groove, each track sucks you in. Granted some manage to do so quicker than others – such as the excellent title track, the opening cut “Beyond the Veil”, the Danzig like vibe of “We Are Legion” and the best on ground up tempo hard rocker, “Son of Cain”. Even the slower yet vocally more adventurous finale, “Inhuman” pulls demands your attention from the get go.
As far as hard rock albums go, it’s without doubt that Diablo Blvd have ticked all the right boxes. Sing along vocals, melodic hooks, great riffs, well crafted and punchy songs – Follow the Deadlights has all of that. Couple it with a thick, meaty sound thanks to Jay Ruston’s mix and Paul Logus’ mastering (Anthrax, Stone Sour, Meatloaf, Steel Panther) and Diablo Blvd have hit the ground running with their first big label release. The momentum can only pick up from here.
Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia