Moving to my new apartment a couple weeks back forced me to reorganize my CD collection. And be reorganize, I mean get rid of a lotta shit. That said, I had some titles so obscure that even Sonic Boom wouldn’t touch ‘em. And then there were the demos and CDRs I stumbled across, including this one, the never-released fourth album from my former favourite Toronto band, Diablo Red…
Just stuck this in my CD player for the first time in who-knows-how-long. Alas, while it skipped like a suicide mother on several occasions, what I was able to ascertain is that it still sounds refreshingly awesome. Here’s the blow-by-blow:
Always thought “Shotglass Full of Pills” was a great opening track. A straight-ahead southern chugger with a big, anthemic chorus about their singer’s struggles with Crohn’s Disease… Wait, was it Crohn’s? I suppose it could be interpreted as a drug-addiction song too, for that matter. Still a great, great song. Personal favourite.
On the other hand, I can’t recall “Long After the Fall” at all. A good stoner groove kicks this one off, to a slightly slow-paced stomp. Okay, I definitely recognize this chorus. Name-drops Jesus without sounding too preachy. This song is every bit as good as Black Label Society, Black Stone Cherry, and all those other southern-sounding bands that received their share of recognition—whether they began with Black or not. “Unbroken” actually sounds a little bit like BLS, come to think of it, with a bit more of a gruff, smoky growl than we’re used to hearing from Catch Murphy.
“King Con” is another one I recognize, as it slowly creeps up to the surface, riffs building on top of a lone, repeated guitar line. From there, it’s all stop-and-start territory, a winding path that would make Nashville Pussy proud. “Stone of Atonement” begins with an upbeat shuffle signalling a slightly more up-tempo number. These guys always were good when they (rarely) played fast, although this one’s just a little more than mid-paced with a slow, gloomy instrumental break thrown in for good measure. Now, “Crossroads” may be a clichéd title, but this song is anything but ordinary, culminating in another catchy chorus that should have raised many fists at biker rallies. (I heard they played a couple in their day.)
“Death’s Our Name” was meant to be the title track, though they were going with some garbled Spanish translation as I recall. In any case, Diablo was certainly fluent in the language of the riff, as another solid southern stomper gets my boots shakin’ in no time. Frankly, I feel that “southern doom” is a fairly non-existent subgenre, but I suppose it should sound something like this.
“Six Bells Till Closing” is another personal favourite. At one point, they were going to release a pirate-themed EP with this as its centrepiece. And yet, I used to think this song was called “Dying Man’s Morning,” as it was mislabelled on an earlier demo I used to have. (And maybe still have somewhere…) Alas, the Pirate EP never happened, but I stagger stagger-ed, roll roll-ed quite often to this tune, if ya know what I mean. “Cannons roar/My blade digs in/Shattered bones/Survive you win!” Always loved that line.
Of course, since this album never actually came out, I reckon the band doesn’t owe Gene Simmons royalties for “1,000 Years,” which is just one zero short of a KISS song title. That said, this song tunes KISS down several notches for a low ‘n slow southern ballad(?) that grooves along grunge-ily. It’s somewhat more laid-back and low-key compared to the other killer cuts on here, until it explodes into a mind-melting solo that’s but a bit too brief.
The album ends with two songs that I can’t recall for the life of me. “Lost Tomorrow” is another sorta-slow, down-tuned, low-key effort—one more hyphen and it wins the prize, albeit at six-minutes plus, it sure takes its sweet time to collect. As for “Shower of Bastard,” well, I’d imagine it would be quite smelly. But it turns out this tune has a slight spring to its step, with a repeated “fuck you” refrain. Erm, perhaps that’s a pre-refrain—which sorta sounds like those beans I had at that Mexican place last night…
Maaaaaaaaaaan, I miss this band. It would be nice if this freakin’ CDR didn’t skip so much, but considering I found it in a pile of stuff I didn’t even know I had a couple weeks back, I suppose I can’t complain.
“I raise my glass… to my comrades that fel-ee-ee-el!”