On their sophomore full-length Sydney, Australia traditional heavy metal band Convent Guilt further render their homage to NWOBHM’s darkly approachable side during the initial late-70’s boon of hard rock informed heavy metal. This pre-80’s sound often had subtle influences from the ’77 wave of British punk rock beyond the Queen-isms and Priest influences; On ‘Diamond Cut Diamond’ Convent Guilt essentially follow this approach with a slight UK ’82 sense of melody for an all-too-real resemblance of old and obscure dirtbag rock records of that era. The epic jams of Trespass, the sinister whip of Angel Witch and the jogging-in-place stomps of early Quartz (see: ‘Stand Up and Fight’) all inform the language of Convent Guilt.
As with any backwards reaching old school metal album Convent Guilt are swatting at you from an obscure epicurean driver’s seat with their influences and there is some sense that they are relishing in someone else’s recipe in recreating the mood and sonic semblance of that late 70’s sound. What sets the experience apart comes from a subtle capture of the ‘uncharted waters’ feeling of early NWOBHM that didn’t make it far into the 80’s. There might be some need to compare this melody driven style to groups like Borrowed Time or Johnny Touch but Convent Guilt are not shredders nor do they veer into power metal territory at all. Trespass‘ ‘One of These Days’ single is a great initial reference point for Convent Guilt‘s sound but a closer look at early Angel Witch and mid-80’s Chariot serve as better sphere of influence for the guitar work found on ‘Diamond Cut Diamond’.
Convent Guilt are still that same garage-level jam you heard on ‘Guns For Hire’ (2014) but this record finds vocalist/bassist Ian Belshaw (ex-Shackles) incorporating more harmony and confident melody into his work as the band generally tightens up their sound under him. It is far more early 80’s Saxon (‘Denim and Leather’, more or less) than it is late 70’s Priest and this is beneficial direction for Convent Guilt‘s sound on ‘Diamond Cut Diamond’. It cuts just short of speed metal and in turn successfully resembles the sort of bands that influenced speed metal as well as projects like Ice War who aim for the oldest of olden days for heavy metal. I find this sort of retro-think worthy pursuit if only for the melodic implications of that era and the fantastic lead guitar work.
As sinister as pub metal gets, Convent Guilt might appear a bit flaccid if you’re not already warmed up to their obscure and ancient aim. Without a love for that heavy rock influenced earliest wave of the NWOBHM movement it’ll likely come across as a melodic and flighty traditional heavy metal record. I would generally recommend it for this with interest in the fine niche that the band set themselves in. For preview I’d recommend “Born to Trouble” and “Thief in the Night” if only because they stood out most prominently throughout several listens.
Crusaders of cruel renown. 3.5/5.0
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