For the last 10 years, Antwerp’s hardest working and hardest rocking band Diablo Blvd have been plying their rock n roll trade to a steadily increasing level of acclaim and popularity. 2015 should see their stock rise even further, with the support slot on the forthcoming Epica European tour being confirmed. It’s no great surprise then to see this timely (if fairly rapid) reissue of their third album, Follow the Deadlights, from their new worldwide distribution partner, Nuclear Blast.
Follow The Deadlights is a solid, muscular hard rock album with echoes of Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity (the more eagle-eyed among you will have already spotted where they got their moniker), The Cult and the occasional flourish of mid period Danzig which, I’m sure you will concur, is a fairly decent set of influences.
Opening track ‘Beyond the Veil’ comes rumbling in, drums aplenty, akin to what might happen if BLS met Alter Bridge on a dark night of the musical soul. ‘Rise Like Lions’ has pretty much the same opening drum led flourish but this time with a bigger riffs and greater level of ambition; ‘Get Up 9’ ups the tempo somewhat, a driving and burly number with a healthy dynamic. The title track, following the well-thumbed rule book of hard rock and heavy metal, has a massive chorus and set of guitar solos and ‘Son of Cain’ ticks every single one of the melodic hard rock boxes and a few more that you didn’t think needed ticking. In a good way, though. ‘We are Legion’ is as preposterous as it is infectious, leaving no cliché unturned but you can’t help but be carried along with the band’s enthusiasm and earnestness. Who cares that you’ve heard this stuff a thousand times before?
It would be really easy to be cynical about records like Follow the Deadlights. Yes, I’ve heard it all before and yes, the structure of the record is as predictable as fireworks on Bonfire Night and yes, sometimes you can see the joins but at the same time, you can see how these guys have earned their slots with Epica and, late last year, Machine Head. Follow the Deadlights sounds highly accomplished and there has, self-evidently been a sizeable effort in bringing together the band’s influences, creative juice and energy into the ten songs on offer here. Follow the Deadlights is probably not going to set the world on fire but as an exercise in modern hard rock and heavy metal, it does a solid job.