This is a review I wrote in November last year about the s/t album by prog-rock/psych/retro-rock band Diagonal.
"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end?"
But they did.
Or did they?
Well, according to the British band Diagonal, those days may have passed but that's no reason not to try to revive them, or in fact re-live them. And they do it so well, that their version of past days seems better than the original.
Released on Rise Above Records, which aside from metal bands, has also several bands in their lineup that recreate the magic of past days of glory, such as Circulus, Litmus, Blood Ceremony, Astra and Diagonal.
Diagonal, from Brighton that sits on the shores of southern England on the channel, are a 7 members band, bent on recreating sounds long gone and even in the booklet of their self-titled album they look like 70s' rock musicians, giving the impression that they are either a long lost band only recently discovered or rather time travelers or in fact just die hard enthusiasts of another age.
What about their music? Ah, well to me it's pure bliss; a truly wonderful complex vintage sounding poignant psychedelic and heavy form of rock. Their music is a well-crafted piece of multi-section songs that benefit from a wide array of instruments played, rich sound, dominant spacey sounding vocals, great soloing by different instruments (saxophones, drums, guitar, keyboards). The melodies are enchanting, gripping me from start to end, intertwined with passionate playing and intricate song structures.
There are influences from late 60s' "psychedelia" as well as King Crimson, Genesis, Deep Purple and so on. Their music shift from heavy pounding rhythms and riffs to lush and sweet keyboard strokes that envelops you in a silk wrapped musical heaven. The first song alone, Semi Permeable Men-Brain, is a tour-de-force by the band, showing all the ammunition in their sleeves, all their influences and all their musical abilities. Everything flows superbly, each note in place and various moods and atmospheres covered to create a triumphant musical piece.
There is ten an uninterrupted connection to Child Of The Thundercloud by means of a piano playing softly, a theme which is then developed and added to by the rest of the band to an emotional peak at the middle of the song, where another twist occurs at the end of which a return to the original theme takes place. The driving rhythm of this segment is hard to resist; the beat itself is well embellished with the vocals and guitar, creating a wonderful insane and psychedelic segment. With Deathwatch the intensity levels are brought down to calmer waters, though it does go up a notch in the middle with the full band joining in and the magical musical wrapping with keyboards occurs.
We then proceed to Cannon Misfire which starts in a way that fits its name; blistering guitar and drumming and then a saxophone joining in. This instrumental piece, the shortest one on the album, is a wild ride with superb bass lines that are brought to the front of the mix. This track might seem more of a jam like piece as some of the instruments seem to wonder more freely (particularly in the middle) but it is a focused composition with great musicianship and a very intense one at that. To seal the album comes the fourteen minutes song, with great organ playing opening it in an intense manner and later serving as the underlying layer. With some nice bluesy and jazzy touches, this song is another multi-section piece that covers several styles and emotional grounds and is a fine closer of this dynamic and powerful album.
Once the music stops, be careful from the dizziness that accompanies the listener as he is transported back to the present.