Black Rainbows – ‘Carmen Diabolo’ Album Review

Can you do me a favour? Let’s just assume for a second that you’ve read everything I have to say about this album and now, before losing a second, I want you to get online or down to your local record shop and buy this disc. It is, without any kind of over-inflated hyperbole, the kind of fantastic rock and roll achievement that leaves you slack-jawed with admiration and, in my case at least, desperate to get at a keyboard and let everyone know how damn good it is.

Ok. Hopefully you’ve taken my advice and the album is already winging its way to you via post (or already in your hands if you nipped out to grab it), but if you’re unconvinced here’s a little more about it that me just saying “buy it” with the anxious repetition of a double glazing salesman. Black Rainbows make rock music. Huge, ballsy, over-driven, riff-packed rock music that sounds rather like Kyuss jamming on vintage Metallica with a hint of Black Label Society, Sabbath and Corrosion of Conformity thrown in for good measure: you see? I told you it was good. Kicking off with ‘Himalaya’ which has a blissfully stoned riff every bit as huge as the mountain range it takes its name from, Gabriele Fiori chimes in with vocals which fit the music perfectly with their half-John Garcia, half Zakk Wylde drawl. There is an undeniable American current running through the music, but pulled off with panache that few bands manage and for a three piece they sure are noisy! With a psychedelic edge to the riffs, the latter half of ‘Himalaya’ could, just, be Queens of the Stone Age except heavier – kind of QOTSA as you often wish they’d sound if only the production wasn’t quite so thin. ‘Babylon’ continues the theme of marijuana-laced hard-rock, Daniele Conti (drums) finding a way to employ the cowbell without making you want to rip the thing off his kit and flatten it with a mallet. Meanwhile Gabriele’s vocals continue to impress and there’s some tasty solos which not only enhance the song but which are also defiantly present in the mix showing off the band’s classic rock leanings. Marco De Masi’s bass is also worth a mention for while it may initially appear as a background rumble, upon closer inspection you can hear the interesting elements he brings to the band from slithering all over the chorus to reinforcing the chunky stop-start riff that makes up the starkly unconventional bridge of the song.

‘Under the sun’ is marginally faster, with a blues edge so dirty it’s practically encrusted in desert grime. The chorus, on the other hand, is a pure classic rock pastiche with Gabriele crooning “I wanna play rock n’ roll, I wanna play it under the sun”. It’s an inspiring moment that just begs the air guitarist in you to stand up and take note – this track encapsulates everything that makes Black Rainbows amazing and needs to be heard to be appreciated. ‘What’s in your head’ has a disturbing eastern tinge that fits the music perfectly and drags you deep into the bands twisted, rock obsessed psyche. ‘Bulls and bones’ cruises on a heavy riff backed up by powerful but not overstated drums and a huge burst of wah for the chorus. ‘Carmen Diabolo’ (the album’s title track’) makes up for its minimalist lyrics by having some stunning guitar work and spacey effects rushing through it while ‘in the city’ is the Dillinger escape plan reinvented as a blues band who use mind-boggling time signatures to stun and capture their prey. The final three tracks recapture the fearsome groove that opens the album, especially closing track ‘space kingdom’ which is entirely aptly named and recalls the best moments of Monster Magnet’s psychedelic head-trips filtered through Josh Homme’s unique world vision.   

Frankly there is nothing at all about Black Rainbows not to like. A heavy, passionate, innovative rock band with balls and precision in equal measure who happen to have the nous to produce themselves with a clarity that many bands with a considerably larger budget would envy and the talent to stand tall amidst the very masters of the stoner rock scene such as Kyuss, QOTSA, Electric Wizard and more. Dark, well written and with intelligent lyrics this is an essential purchase for fans of heavy music and a masterwork form a band who deserve to be heard far and wide.

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