Anger, confusion, questioning of the government… What do these themes and emotions all have in common? They’ve been at the centre of many a lyricists mind since the dawn of time. From the early Elvis records, to the most bizarre and extreme corners of metal and out into the great beyond, the formula has been shaken and stirred over the decades. However, recently it has been allowed to settle back into an old routine. In the mid 80’s, American Metal had stagnated into the Cheesy Hair Metal scene of the LA area. Big hair and bigger clichés was what it was all about. In 1983, the beginnings of the Thrash Metal revolution attempted to shake things up and create something more exciting and fresh, which led to the creation of some of metal’s biggest selling acts. However, some 20 years later, the young, hyperactive upstart that was thrash has, itself, fallen into a bit of a rut.
This is the debut offering from Chicago Thrash Metal band Diamond Plate. As a Thrash album, it holds no surprises; fast, driving guitar riffs, heavy drums and vocals that growl and scream with the best of them. Unfortunately, there is very little of anything new, original or different about this album to any other Thrash Metal band, old or new. The songs all follow a similar format (with the exception of an interesting instrumental introduction number made from clips of old news programs). For a while there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, as they effectively establish a sound and a style in the vein of the old thrashers. However, by the time the hour-long album finishes, the formula of riff-verse-chorus-verse-solo-repeat wears a bit thin, with much of the album being interchangeable and indistinctive from the rest.
With the sheer number of Thrash Metal bands out there at the moment, there needs to be some sort of unique selling point to make them stand out from the masses (which, unfortunately, this band seems to lack). Having said that, however, as a metal album along to which one may wish to exorcise any demons with a fist in the air and the volume turned up to 11, you can do far worse. What Diamond Plate lack in subtlety and finesse, they more than make up for in raw aggression, brutality, and an obvious enthusiasm- never releasing the listener from the metaphorical steel vice of their music until the album’s well and truly over. Lyrically, ‘Generation Why?’ really does seem to attempt to critique such US policies as the war on terror in the Middle East. The unmistakeable thrash Metal guitar model rarely deviates, and there are plenty of millions-of-notes-a-second guitar solos to keep fans of virtuosic guitar pyrotechnics happy.
The album’s high points include “More Than Words”, a virtuosic, heavy groove instrumental, which gives all the musicians a chance to showcase their obvious talents. The piece even includes a Spanish flamenco style section. Solos are abound and long enough to have proper structures and build up as mini songs in their own right. The track also feels more laid back, without really slowing down the tempo. The piece has more of a Pantera, style groove than a hyperactive speed-metal feel.
Overall, this album is nothing particularly special, however it shows a band with a lot of potential for development. But as it stands, Diamond Plate are still lost amongst the masses.