Traditional Metal from Australia
Some bands just can’t let go of the past. The wistful yearning for sounds and styles long out of the mainstream is simply too strong. Convent Guilt are one such band who are hellbent on transporting us straight back to 1980 and for that I am thankful. The four-piece, nostalgia-driven rockers just released their sophomore album titled Diamond Cut Diamond earlier this month on Gates of Hell Records, the child label of Cruz del Sur.
Convent Guilt’s latest album follows in the footsteps of their 2014 debut – light-hearted riffing driven by tremendous guitar leads and melodies. Their sound clearly draws heavy influence from early NWOBHM acts such as Trespass, Saxon, Spartan Warrior, and Di’Anno–era Iron Maiden, but there’s a healthy amount of 70s rock and even some British punk in the mix. Despite Convent Guilt’s undeniably old school sound there isn’t quite anyone that sounds like them – the closest comparison I can come up with is if Wytch Hazel or High Spirits decided to add a bit of punk into their sound.
Much like the previously mentioned bands, Convent Guilt grab your attention right away with their compelling and upbeat guitar leads. The rhythm guitar takes a backseat as the leads and vocals work to drive forward the songs. While they’re a focus for the band, Ian’s vocals aren’t conventional to say the least. If you’re hoping for a Rob Halford or Jon Oliva on this one then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Ian’s approach is more bare bones and punkier in nature than most of his contemporaries. Metal is full of unconventional vocalists and Ian is one of them, operating on pure passion and attitude alone. The vocals are at the forefront of the mix and this causes them to stick out more than they should.
The overall production is on the thinner side but this helps mold Convent Guilt’s decided old school sound. The drumming, performed by Brent F., is a major highlight on this record. The drum sections are varied and add an extra dimension to the music, but they’re unfortunately a bit buried in the mix. I would have liked to see the vocals turned down a bit with both the drumming and guitars turned up proportionately – I feel that this would have balanced Convent Guilt’s sound and played to their strengths more effectively.
I’ll admit that Diamond Cut Diamond didn’t quite do it for me on the first couple of listens – the songs just didn’t leave a lasting impression. While it didn’t fully click with me right away, the album’s charm has won me over with subsequent listens. This one is a grower for sure – Diamond Cut Diamond needs that extra bit of time to sink in.
Convent Guilt’s Diamond Cut Diamond is a throwback to the old days, but never does it sound derivative. The band’s unique flair shines through their music and the end result is a tasteful homage to the past rather than rehashed drivel. There are preciously few bands with Convent Guilt’s sheer earnestness and passion. If you’re a fan of the old school then Diamond Cut Diamond should be right up your alley.
Album Rating: 80/100
Favorite Track: Thief in the Night