Review: The Black Diamond Express – Brimstone For Hell

Posted on: Thursday, Jun 13, 2013


The Black Diamond Express – Brimstone For Hell


This debut album from the very popular Edinburgh based BDE is a recording created in defiance to the music industry’s requirements, that they, change their style and approach to suit the major labels demands and it is to their credit and our benefit that they have remained true to their beliefs.

With the confidence gained from their 2012 Danny Kyle award and the highly-regarded reputation they have garnered from the Edinburgh International Festival, the band have created a seriously infectious and  footappin’ collection, right from the start, which is a slowburning, rolling blues blaster version of Fats Domino’s “Every Night About This Time,” this is a heady mixture of hard Chicago blues punctuated with a raw, jarring sawing harmonica from Tom McCelland, sustaining a Ray Charles inflected  punching vocal from Jack of Diamonds who also provides some very rich guitar work.

The album was recorded live at The Caves, a venue in Edinburgh that is quite literally underground. The violin, drum and infectiously enticing percussion work from Cameron Henderson, the Duke and Tommy Rodriguez, joyously highlights the bands Celtic roots, which runs seamlessly through the music.  “Exhibit B,” is a slightly strange but infectious ode to architecture extolling love and wonder simultaneously, the jazzy harmonica, guitar and violin inflections simply sweep you along.

An endearingly magical, violin and percussion creates a swirling melancholy eastern flavour on the esoteric “Never Was A Lass so Fair,” the vulnerable vocals and mandolin top it off. The very entertaining version of Blind Willie McTell’s “Crapshooters Blues,” has a softly spoken melancholy introduction until it breaks out into an enjoyable, confident walking violin and harmonica New Orleans swagger. While, the train like backbone drumming on the fast moving “Jack,” has you clinging and gliding along on the back of the swinging violins and ever punching harmonica.

 Robert Johnson’s “Preaching Blues,” has a fast-paced bullet train slide running all along its backbone while the equally fast harmonica and percussion hurtles this gospel/Doors / influenced version on into the distance. The majestically miserable harmonica on Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble,” handsomely compliments the slowly flowing compelling guitar and pounding drum work that winds their way to the end.

The compelling frenetic pace of “Live Free or Die,” amply accentuates and highlights the bands rocking Celtic roots. R. L. Burnside’s “Going Down South,” introduces an earthy, almost visceral cutting, swaggering guitar and harmonica sound that is a definite crowd pleaser.  The Tango / Gypsy influenced swinging of “Draw in the Lightning” and the barnstorming rocker “Deeper than Thee,” provide a seriously foot stomping finale; fiddles, guitars, harmonica, percussion and drums enthusiastically race to the end.

BDE are one of the few bands that have successfully melded the traditional to the contemporary in such a winning combination.



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