" Double Diamond"

By Earthdog

Firebird guitarist/vocalist and main-man Bill Steer formed the band in 1999. Steer had been in bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass which were way more heavy and a completely different style than Firebird. From what I gather Steer was basically bored with grind and death and felt the need to reinvent himself ,thus forming Firebird.  The band has seen many different bass players and drummers come and go but one thing that has never changed is the bands pure 70's blues-rock approach. All their albums play like classic vinyl from the 70' this day, they have never produced an album over 40 minutes in length - again sticking with the authentic 70's hard rock formula for recording. They have stuck to the blueprint laid down by Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Budgie, Humble Pie and Thin Lizzy to name just a few. Being such a radical departure from Steer's earlier work with grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and death metal band Carcass still confuses people to this day but when you hear Steer's playing, it becomes obvious he has a natural talent for this style and maybe should have been playing it all along. Albums leading up to Double Diamond start with the début self-titled in 2000, Deluxe in 2001, No.3 in 2003, Hot Wings in 2006 and Grand Union released in 2009.

The most puzzling thing about Double Diamond is only recently did it get released in the US where as it has been out in Europe and Japan for months, I think I first heard it at least 6 months ago. Anyway this just another Firebird album so in other words, predictable but killer chunks of wild 70's inspired bluesy hard rock. The album kicks off with "Soul Saviour" - and mid tempo bruiser with infectious hooks, groovy guitar work from Steer and those thin but incredibly soothing vocals also from Steer. Something about Bill Steer's voice is pure perfection despite having almost no vocal range. His voice is warm and kind of wispy but it is ideal for the songs and style. They push on the gas for the second track, "Ruined" with a more intense, energetic performance. Highly infectious as usual but the highlight of the track for me is the breakdown in the song where drummer Ludwig Witt lets loose with some excellent drum-fills. Also, pay special attention to the guitar solo in this track, it shows Steer is a remarkable guitarist that makes me think he must look back on the Napalm Death days with a laugh - there are more dynamic lead runs in one Firebird song than the entire Napalm Death catalog. From "Ruined" the album moves into the more relaxed "Bright Lights" and the band certainly takes things down a notch with this melodic, bluesy tune. In typical Firebird fashion, while more mellow it still keeps up a solid groove throughout.

"For Crying Out Loud" is up next and it's the most relentless guitar assault on the album...the riffs and the grooves don't let up and take note of the riff that enters the song at 1:45, Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” anyone? "Farewell" is up next and takes the vibe down a notch once more similar to "Bright Lights" - more relaxed but still keeping a heavy, solid groove going. "A Wing and a Prayer" is track 6 and is one of the catchiest songs Firebird have ever done, the guitar work is pure genius in this tune. "Pound of Flesh" is track 7 and the seventh song in a row with a irresistible groove, this album never lets up in the catchy hook department. "Pound Of Flesh" is also another track to feature the kick-ass drumming of Witt, who really delivers a pulverizing performance in this song and even has time to use a cowbell here and there!! "Arabesque" is the odd track on the album, it has a very different feel from the rest of the album despite some thick guitar sounds. This is the albums only mis-step in my opinion, nothing bad about the track but it does seem to disrupt the flow of the album to me. After that minor hiccup comes "Lose Your Delusions" and this is a major highlight as this tune kicks into a groove and just keeps on delivering the goods. It is also one of the few songs where the bass groove really drives the song just as much as Steer's guitar. The album ends on "Pantomine" which is the most mellow track on the album. Firebird have always done mellow tunes but this might be the 'most-mellow' ever and it is a good tune but it is oddly placed at the end of the album. A rocking tune would have made a better closer in my mind but oh well, can't win them all. Again, this is another showcase for Bill Steer's incredibly smooth guitar work, he has a natural flair for engaging, warm blues and but he can also let rip some brutal boogie too and this album has all that and more.

Firebird are not the most original band going around but they are incredibly consistent and 'Double Diamond' is another solid effort that sums up the feels, the grooves and the essence of 70's blues-rock and classic heavy-rock. Firebird are also one of the very few bands where I can not for the life of me pick a favorite album, they are all equally as good in my book. I also love the album title, 'Double Diamond,' it is a brand of beer in the UK and I drank gallons of that stuff when I was there so yeah another reason to dig this album, check it out.........9/10