I felt like I’m coming in relatively blind to Diamond Construct. I’d only really spent time with their singles “Submerged” and “Night Terrors”, as well as seeing the Taree based band rip up stages on heavy music shows. Inexperience aside, I had the opportunity to spend time with Diamond Construct’s debut self-titled album in the lead up to its release on 17th May via Greyscale Records. This review is a capture of that time.
Kicking off the album is “Animus” whose radio static tunes us into the Diamond Construct station where sound is blown up and out into massiveness. I’m quickly impressed by the surrounding and thick quality of sound (which is made even better with headphones). Roaring anger comes at the listener with “Animus”, with slamming intensity and a hectic sense of urgency peppered by solemnly spoken phrases.
I’m obviously not in the band nor privy to their inner workings, but I could see “Animus” as an embodiment/anthropomorphising of negativity and having an argument with that, and hitting a low and being pulled back up. Rhythmically interesting lines like “Not who you think you are, you are not” are hooking, as are the vocal rhythms in general and the exasperation in vocalist Kynan Groundwater’s voice. Electronic zips and samples add spark to this track, which ends with a mammoth breakdown. Keen listeners will hear “Can’t someone save me from this pain?” vocally buried in it.
Second song “Dreamcatcher” brings hectic pace from the beginning, with vocals quickly calling focus. Seeming to continue a similar theme to the lifting up carried by the previous song, “Dreamcatcher” adds a further shove to keep going and head toward your dreams. Pummeling metalcore intensity is as much at home here as semi-rapped vocals are, and I’m appreciating ominous atmospheric moments, electro effects and distortion, and a high pitched djenty riff as an additional shove to “GET THE FUCK UP”.
With an intro really similar to what I’d heard in “Dreamcatcher”, I was a bit like “Yep, I’ve heard this” with “Paradox” at first. Same with the punishing pace and sense of urgency. Is this ‘continuation’ deliberate? It’s only sweet dreaminess that softens me when this line arrives: “As we end well, so will our love and all that’s left will be lust. Can you feel it? I can feel it. What tonight will bring.”
Lyrically dense, it’s yet again keep up or be left behind with these urgings to wake up, buried in guitar pinches and momentary interludes of suspension. The “Get up. The world you know is about to wake up” seems like it’d fiercely hook into memory, along with the pastel bittersweet glow of the sung vocal lines. It’s easy to lose myself in the intricate guitar blanket and a sense of hope that’s coming through the vocals. I love these moments (around 2:30) far more than sections that just seem to demonstrate instrumental prowess without any other connection.
“Over a lifetime we’ve forgotten how to connect with our soul”
“Submerged” adds further fury to Diamond Construct. Fierce and raw from its beginnings, feeling as freeing as it is frustrated, a breakneck pace and simultaneous eerie melody feels like hairs standing up on the back of one’s neck. “We fall apart from the fucking start” hits me with a touch of ‘oh well’ apathy, while angry at having to give up something useless, and of time wasted.
Seeming to sharpen this feeling and pointing to the disconnect (“while I’m drowning in the next room”), this beast is surprisingly easy to groove with, despite the collision with breaking point that the song seems to be expressing. Kynan’s shaky voice of fear is impactful and was one of the reasons why I appreciated the song when it released as a single. Drowned in layers of sound, it’s an uncomfortable experience, but fully nailed in terms of sonically expressing the intended feeling.
Fittingly submerged (based on the position on the album) as it begins, the muffled “Night Terrors” is soon sharp and clear and full of ache. The cry out of “Just give me something!” surrounded in heavy intricacy has us alongside someone struggling and seeking something to anchor them. This song is so unsettled and raw, with bombardments that come across as unending, making for the dreamier moments to hit even more impactfully.
Defensive and with wall of sound intensity, “Say It To My Face” is actually the perfect title for the next track. In amongst those familiar high pitched djenty sections, the rhythmic full stops to accentuate what’s being said offer an important differentiation. I appreciated the overlapping voices of gossip and hearsay, and the delivery of barbs like “I heard there’s room in hell, so I hope you fucking burn”. There’s also a really sick cross-ear breakdown section that I’d happily hear more of!
It was skin-crawling to me to be aware of ethereal background tones at the same time as roars, and steady guitar rhythms. The landing of an heavily edited voice, revving riffs, and pauses before leaping back into the chorus again added to the satisfaction. Unpredictable and savage, I had pegged this song as my favourite on the album so far to this point of listening through. I was unprepared for what would come next.
“Morphine Eyes” is what would come next.
In comparison to the previous song which merrily contained the C-word, this piano introduction, ‘pretty’ singing, and synthy sounding melody was at first WEIRD. Pleading and searching, “Morphine Eyes” came across as asking for permission, building with drum ultimatums. In contrast to the defensiveness before it, “Morphine Eyes” offers an invitation for connection and speaks of loyalty (“Waiting this out until the walls cave in”). I officially then had a new favourite of the album, taking notes while riddled with goosebumps.
The delivery of the line “Waiting for this all to be out of reach” is stunningly beautiful. And I’m suddenly won over, with any niggles of irritation rolling off me as I’m lifted and flying in a sparkling atmosphere that has somehow appeared midway through the album; a shimmering crystalline island standing high over choppy seas. I’m in love and putty to this song.
There aren’t enough words to capture how much I appreciate “Morphine Eyes”, falling for its semi-whispered affection as an attempt to connect with someone who is compromised. Moved and touched and sparkling and alive, I silently prayed for more of this to appear on the album. Yes fucking please.
While “Hypno” landed us heavily again on gritty shores, kicking up dirt and punching out, it was just as satisfying. Or maybe I was still in a “Morphine Eyes” haze of adoration. Regardless, the song feels like an attack upon social media that comes coupled with a delicious rap-esque middle finger of “No one gives a shit (ay) about your Insta feed and (ay) all the lies you’re feeding (ay) and all your life deceiving”. PREACH, Diamond Construct!
And just when I’m feeling like “Yeah this is sick”, the album’s earlier hints of electro influence seemed to draw together to be slammed down triumphantly, like a White Eyes Blue Dragon Yu Gi Oh card. There’s no attempt to make this metal, this is raw electronic city of static and “ahhh”s. It’s as though we’ve fallen into the circuitry of our smartphones and are bouncing around like pinballs.
I expect that this song may cop some criticism from genre purists, but I was personally very happy to land in this instrumental cavern of awesomeness. The song’s repetition, and lines like “play it till you fucking hate it” are brilliant, as is the bitterness spat out, with spoken lines added to the sentiment: “and by the way, no one rates”. BOOM. So unexpected, yet so appreciated!
As one might expect from the title, “Hailstorm” has us back in pummeling city. I was sitting appreciating the steadiness of guitar while vocally Kynan seemed like he was slipping away, but then Diamond Construct went one further and pulled out a drifty “I feel like escaping from this race” line.
It’s somehow inspiring tears in me; this sense of being smashed by life (yep, a metaphorical hailstorm) and feeling yourself separating from reality, AND while also feeling a fire to fight it. But oh boy, as personally a participator in the mostly crushing experience of life, while also simultaneously appreciating the magic of it, this line did something to me:
“Where the sky meets the sea
it’s only New Years Eve in my dreams
and it’s somewhere in between.
Near and far is the scar
that I’m well aware is in the stars.
It’s right in front of me.”
And THEN, there’s singing that sounds like a fucking call out to the sky, for something to remedy all of this, while the hailstorm continues. It’s all a bit too much (in a good way) and such a pleasurable ride to be on. The desperation of “Don’t give up” and the anxious breathlessness of “I will not fall” with circular riffs vibes perfectly as a flurry of effort to get through. It comes across as self talk; this rising voice that refuses to be beaten down. Refuses to be defeated by the storm. The beautiful angelic/ethereal reminder is just icing on the cake as the song comes to a close, creating such a stunning sense of empowerment. WOW. How many favourite songs can you have, I wonder?
“Never give up”
On the homeward stretch of the album, “Wildfire” is a fat track; big, dirty, alarming, and brutal. Drums and piercing guitar notes paint this piece that seems like self-hatred. Fiery and slamming, lines are delivered like slow punches. But in amongst this inferno there’s the unexpected momentary appearance of singing. I love the “IT GROWS” calls that seem to find no tune to call home, as well as the random percussion breakout with wailing guitar shrieks. As a track it comes across like a statement of how fucked things are, and that the solution is actually for all of it to be burnt away, for means of something new to exist – as opposed to finding rigidity, control, or predictability.
“Fuck you” says “Attitude” and there’s a sense of recklessness with this track that is impressively shared by ‘crazy’ vocals and ‘whatever’ guitar. Look, I don’t know how else to word those things and their messiness that express someone on the edge, both instrumentally and vocally. Repeated lyrics and hard to grasp features combined with doomy breakdown paint a very full picture of insanity that suits the 1:46 timeframe.
“I’m in control now”
“Gloom” comes across as a call to be heard, and wanting to tell their story. Noisy and static, we’re into full speed ahead courtesy of every facet of this band. This is one for moving to, to fall into the unease of “I don’t wanna be here”. I’m loving the trap-esque bass moment, as well as the dreaminess that shows up with “They say that I’ll never change at all”. The harmonies and softness in the thick of violent rawness is delectable. Returning to this as the song comes to a close is such a strong and perfect ending.
It kind of hits me that this is the end of the album and holy shit what a ride. Diamond Construct hit the mark over the space of the album so many times that I lost count. There’s nothing here that feels like filler, and no sense of anything appearing on the album just because of needing to get to an album number of songs.
To be honest, I started my listen fearful that I’d be wading through twelve songs that would be a feasty of samey tunes and not much else. So what an absolute fucking treat of a surprise to have something so unique and exceptional as what the band have put together with Diamond Construct. This is a mammoth debut, a huge statement of their identity as a band, and a crazily wide showcase of “Hello, we’re just making music how we want to, you can take it or not”.
I adore the sense of freedom I get from these songs, where they’ve chosen to include elements that may not have fit into those unseen genre constraints, yet have perfectly painted what the songs were lyrically expressing. They’re saying what they needed to say, and doing it with unpredictable creative flare. Take time with this album when it releases tomorrow, and respect the band for doing it in their own way!
Though the album as a whole had enough differentiation across it, having Dreamcatcher leading into Paradox might turn people off expecting "I've heard this before". Listeners need to hang in there to get the most out of this!
There were so many wow moments that had me blissed out, excited, impressed, moved. This is such a great collection of music.