"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Firebird - "Double Diamond" (CD)

Firebird - "Double Diamond" CD cover image

"Double Diamond" track listing:

1. Soul Saviour (4:23)
2. Ruined (3:26)
3. Bright Lights (3:56)
4. For Crying Out Loud (2:32)
5. Farewell (3:53)
6. A Wing & A Prayer (2:57)
7. Pound Of Flesh (2:44)
8. Arabesque (3:15)
9. Lose Your Delusions (3:21)
10. Pantomime (5:12)

Reviewed by on March 4, 2011

"...think cheap B.B. King rip-offs with 1980s pop metal production values."

I have a difficult time separating my metal heroes from their fame-causing primary vocations. In my world, Shagrath wears his Queen Amidala getup when he buys milk from the corner store, Chuck Billy plays air guitar on his microphone stand during the soup course on date night, and Nocturno Culto wears corpse paint to his daughter’s second grade production of “The Little Mermaid.” So when a guy like Bill Steer (a.k.a. founding member of grind legends Carcass) wanders off the reservation it is quite jarring.

“Double Diamond” is Firebird’s sixth studio full-length, and according to the press materials Steer’s power trio takes inspiration from bands like Cream and Deep Purple and the like, but all I hear is 1980s glam-blues. Let me explain: all of the bands in the 1980s had some blues in them, from the obvious (Guns n’ Roses) to the less obvious (Heavy Bones), and these bands usually had a few filler cuts on each album that were thin wackoffs of blues licks and blues ballads and whatnot (think cheap B.B. King rip-offs with 1980s pop metal production values).

And that is exactly what we get on “Double Diamond.” Steer’s vocals are soft (the only emotion they convey is sleep), his guitar lines are straight from “Blues Licks for Dummies” and each song is the same set of verse-chorus blandness that you can get every night on the local Denny’s playlist. No highs, no lows, no real groove, blunt hooks, dated production... I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Now here is the disclaimer: Steer just totally dominates our faces in Carcass. So much so that Carcass is one of the few grind-ish bands I enjoy from time to time. That we discover he isn’t a one-trick strummer on “Double Diamond” gives his grind playing even more credibility. That Steer has been able to play music he obviously enjoys for over ten years and release six long-players is fist-bump worthy. But there is one more thing: don’t acquire “Double Diamond” for killer, emotion-wrought, tear-bleeding blues. Get it because you love Bill Steer.

Highs: Album closer “Pantomime” has the best emotional rise and fall on the entire album, not to mention the best solo.

Lows: The blues licks are simply uninspiring.

Bottom line: Side project for Carcass founder Bill Steer is for completists only.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)