Aussie heavy metal outfit, Convent Guilt deliver their second long player clinging to the golden era sounds of 1978-1982 where the NWOBHM found its feet and today’s giants of our world started to stamp their almighty authority. To worship at such a throne requires respect and this crew deliver in blazing style. “Diamond Cut Diamond” finds a band bleeding enthusiasm and delivering sweetly crafted sounds that makes one’s ears prick up in expectation.
“Howling Vengeance” gets the album underway with a very Diamond Head inflected introduction that turns itself into a tight, almost heavy Jethro Tull song structure. Warm sonic textures from another era are slathered in vocals that have been brought way up front and have a nonchalance which compliments the classic sounding riffs. A late Ozzy era Black Sabbath melancholy comes in especially around the guitar break which emphasises the band’s broad palette. However, it’s the next few tracks that bring in the seething menace that defined the NWOBHM where an angsty, punk edge combines with quality riffage. “Born To Trouble” with its Di’Anno era Iron Maiden simmered urgency and punchy riffs overlaid with noodling lead guitar couples with the punk aesthetics of UK Subs. Chunky, staccato riffs on “Powder Dry” provide an irresistible base for a track that highlights a cleanliness to the production that maintains plenty of space between each band member. The vocals have an almost laconic delivery that’s in typical keeping with the Aussie pub rock scene of the 80’s and is hard not to be drawn into. That sense of a sweaty, beer soaked pub permeates the album’s mid-section where sing-a-longs and air guitar rule supreme.
The closing stanzas are dominated by Dave Murray inspired guitar solos over raw, energetic arrangements. There’s a sense of constant motion and exuberance nicely summed up on closer “Foxes Run” where the spoken word sound bite sets up a mental crime scene before a proper beefy riff full menace and grit comes in with stinging lead guitar. The ever present sense of urgency gives it a dynamic that demands the listener’s attention and proves to be a worthy summary of an album that never threatens to become overblown but remains focussed to its core.
Admittedly, there’s a certain sense of sameness and an extremely heavy lean on the first two albums from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden but Convent Guilt do it with a sense of class and more importantly a nod to their homeland that gives these songs their own uniqueness. Fans of classic heavy metal will lap this up and likely look for seconds.
(7/10 Johnny Zed)