Steel Panther is one of the most annoying bands in metal today. It’s not because they revel in a “parody” of one of metal’s most maligned subgenres (the Sunset Strip hard rock scene), but rather because they clearly missed the memo that a successful parody has to be either subtle or funny. They hit with a pseudo-comedic sledgehammer, painstakingly revealing that they’re really trying to get cheap laughs and hoping tired jokes about the male anatomy or zaftig women will make anyone over twelve care or chuckle, like a louder and more irritating Dane Cook. Replace their cut-rate comedy band with a quintet of Torontonians who seem to actually love the ridiculous hard rock of old and, for better or for worse, you end up with Diemonds and their second full-length record Never Wanna Die.

Drawing most heavily from Motley Crue, Diemonds presents us with mid-paced hard rock based on simplistic chugging riffs and rudimentary song structures, making no bones about letting us know their sole objective is to deliver party-ready hooks that are made to be turned up to eleven. There’s some minor Accept influence with a few cues taken from Mötörhead, which means that the overall sound is slightly heavier than some of their peers and inches towards vintage heavy metal although it’s too glam-fisted to actually get there. Given that unlike Steel Panther and the Crue I can listen to this without wanting to drink bleach I’d say they’ve done something right with this old and, discounting dingy strip clubs and bad rock radio, largely forgotten sound.

Diemonds‘ biggest successes come in the form of straightforward numbers like the title track, which is a tight little number with an energetic verse and a hooky chorus courtesy of vocalist Priya Panda. While her range is nothing to marvel at, there’s real energy behind her vocals, this makes a track like “Better Off Dead” quite infectious, and the mix of catchy simplicity and dumb but fun lyrics increase my enjoyment. The guitars of C.C. Diemond and Daniel Dekay keep things simple, stopping Never Wanna Die from becoming a wannabe shred clinic, and while they can and do rip out the odd flashy lead they primarily focus their energy on giving Panda a wide open canvas to draw big poppy hooks on. While she only has a few different brushstrokes, “Ain’t That Kinda Girl” capitalizes on this and sees the band working well together as a unit to deliver an entertaining rock n’ roll romp that sounds like something Joan Jett would do if she made music that I could actually enjoy.

Diemonds Never Wanna Die 03

Where Never Wanna Die deflates is when the band neglects to utilize its two most noticeable assets: an undeniable atmosphere of simple fun and the construction of obvious yet solid hooks. “Secret” is the biggest offender, seeing Diemonds attempt a darker sound and coming up with listless riffs, an instantly forgettable chorus, lyrics that are outright moronic and boring, and a performance from Panda that’s lackluster compared to her work on the highlights. Closer “Save Your Life” tries far too hard to be an “outcasts and misfits” anthem, and a main riff that sounds like boring AC/DC does it no favours either. Another issue that’s omnipresent here is the nagging knowledge that we’ve all heard much better hard rock before, even if we only look at 2015. I could name plenty of records in the genre that I’d listen to before Never Wanna Die, and while Diemonds is competent and enjoyable, the “opening band syndrome” is strong here; there’s not enough that really sticks to the ribs to make this the entrée, but as an appetizer it’ll do well enough.

On the topic of meals, some culinary experts know just what to pair different foods with, so call me Wolfgang and heed my advice: Diemonds is a simple dish that pairs well with cheap beer and a few friends. Like Olde English, Never Wanna Die isn’t going to be your first choice and you’ll be left with the distinct impression that you could be enjoying much better things. But there’s the odd time where quality really doesn’t matter and Olde English makes for a simple and fun time, even if you’re never going to stock your fridge with it.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: diemonds.net | facebook.com/diemonds
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2015

Share →
  • Martin Knap

    Speaking of hard rock, what’s the opinion on the new Europe album in these corners?

    • ronin1572

      I kinda like the new Europe. There is a lot that reminds me more of classic rock bands like UFO

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Never knew there was new Europe, checking it out post-haste!

      • Martin Knap

        It’s even Fenriz approved :-)

  • This band’s logo reminds me of White Wizzard. That got a 5.0. This gets a 2.0. So if we average them together, does that mean they’re each worthy of a 3.5, or would it be -666.0?

    • We don’t speak of that magic user.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      First thing I thought too!
      An ominous begining

  • CarvedInStone

    So the post I was replying to has been deleted for whatever reason. So to sum it up the poster said he or she disagreed with the first paragraph and argued that you can’t do a subtle Hair Metal parody because of the inherent unsubtleness of the genre an that if Steel Panther would’ve been around the mid-to-late 80s they would’ve made it big with some airplay and lyrical tweaks.

    I agree with him/her. If you’re doing Hair Metal subtly then you’re doing it wrong. Hair Metal has to be big and loud and at times even obnoxious.
    Becasue it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise. I mean, what would Hair Metal
    be without the big production and the showmanship? It’s pretty much a
    “go big or go home” subgenre.

    • eloli

      Just for the record, I’m a him. :D
      Thanks for your comment, it’s exactly what I was going for.
      I don’t think the post was deleted, I included a you tube link on my post, and those posts always get flagged, because someone in the site has to check the link for content before clearing its publication. I linked a Skrap Mettle song on youtube, a band that did exactly the same thing Steel Panther does, the difference is that they did it at a time when hair metal was still somewhat culturally relevant, so a lot of people didn’t get the joke.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Now on the other hand if someone would do a parody of Grunge… It would be sad and boring.

      • eloli

        That’s the exact reason nobody even attempts it, and Weird Al’s Nirvana parody works mostly because of the video’s non sensical sight gags. :D

      • CarvedInStone

        Not necessarily. Weird Al did a great parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and that was hilarious. But I suppose that doesn’t really count as it was a parody of one song rather than the whole genre.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I actually love the ridiculous hard rock of old. I also like dingy strip clubs. The sample reminded me of the sound of the finnish band Lullacry around the time they released “Crucify my Heart” mostly because of the vocals.

  • JWEG

    I’m personally inclined to give the album a 3.5 overall rather than a 2.

    I agree exactly with your assessment that the album fails to consistently capitalize on its strongest parts – and I’d even single out the same two songs as examples of deviation from the winning formula (since I skip them more often than play them). But at the same time when they’re good, they’re very very good. In my final assessment I can only knock off one of those ‘very’s.

    Perhaps I’m taking the scale too literally, though…

  • RDGEEK

    Bringing up Steel Panther in the context of this band (hearing them now for the first time) makes no sense. Also, Steel Panther’s humor isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean Diemonds is somehow doing the 80s “right”.

    • Kryopsis

      You’re right, Steel Panthers’ humour can only be fully appreciated by people with a taste for the finer things in life, like beer pong, Family Guy and Budweiser, the indisputable King of Beers. Anyway, what DiM meant is that ‘Panthers is a crass and cynical capitalization on the Glam Metal nostalgia whereas Diemonds is for real (which still doesn’t save it from mediocrity).

      • RDGEEK

        Having never played beer pong, I can’t speak the accuracy of your characterization. However, there is absolutely no evidence that Steel Panther’s capitalization on 80s nostalgia is any less crass and cynical than Diemond’s is. Please. We’re talking nostalgia here. No one is “for real” in that regard.

        • Kryopsis

          Point taken!

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Kryopsis is on point. Also, I didn’t try to imbue them with authenticity, all I said was that they actually seem to want to play hard rock because they find it fun as opposed to just taking the piss as SP does. Yeah, it’s derivative and cheesy, but they’re clearly making songs instead of attempts at comedy, if that makes sense. Also, try out beer pong!

          • Shangsean

            Thing is though, Steel Panther are far better at “making songs” than these guys. Appreciate Steel Panther’s sense of humour or not, but they’re a talented band with good musicians and a pretty amazing ability to write catchy songs. Take the humour out of their songs and you’re left with top shelf cock rock. As a person over the age of 12 (I’m 39), I can confirm that their music can be enjoyed by someone other than a child. They’re are more talented than a lot of the bands they’re making fun of. Their debut was a really great album and still makes me smile even now. The followup wasn’t as good, but was still solid. I can also confirm that I have never played beer pong or any drinking game. I wouldn’t go anywhere near a Budweiser. I’ll take an ipa thanks.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            They can play, yeah, but for whatever reason I’ve never had an SP song get stuck in my head. With the painfully obvious attempts at humor, songs that are bland to my ears become nigh-on insufferable. I never said Diemonds were particularly good, and you can do way better than this for hard rock in 2015 honestly. We’ll have to agree to disagree on Steel Panther though, but we’ve got common ground on IPA’s at least!

          • RDGEEK

            Pretty much my thoughts on SP as well (though I’ll take a brown instead of an ipa).

  • Kryopsis

    I normally like retro Hard Rock but none of the songs on this album are memorable. Seriously, there is very little to distinguish the individual songs and let’s not forget that the album only 34 minutes long. It’s pedestrian by-the-numbers Cock Rock and the delivery rings hollow. The band’s songwriting approach basically mirrors the drinking habits of their target audience, i.e. ‘chug, chug, chugh, chug!’. On the whole, I pretty much agree with every paragraph of your review, DiM. That Steel Panthers – Dane Cook analogy is pretty apt by the way.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      “The band’s songwriting approach basically mirrors the drinking habits of their target audience, i.e. ‘chug, chug, chug, chug!'” That’s gold Jerry, gold!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    If you take into account the antics of bands like WASP, Motley Crue, Poison, Guns & Roses, Skid Row… Steel Panther would be a tame panther compared to those.
    We are talking bands whose members overdosed and were brought back to life, started riots in full capacity venues, killed people while driving drunk, went on politically incorrect drunken rants onstage, trashed hotel rooms and probably had more sex than Sodom (the city no the band).
    Here the parody doesn´t really go over the top because it can´t: the real thing already went over the top.

  • Jesus, you used the term”hard rock” enough times in this post to almost convince me that there’s supposed to be this huge difference between it and heavy metal when it comes to all the “ridiculous” music of the eighties. Doesn’t really make a drop of sense considering all the artists, save for Joan Jett, that you compared them to.

    “There’s some minor Accept influence with a few cues taken from Mötörhead, which means that the overall sound is slightly heavier than some of their peers and inches towards vintage heavy metal although it’s too glam-fisted to actually get there.” The only glam metal band you compared them to from that era was Mötley Crüe FFS so how do they “not actually get there” by your personal and definitive definition of a genre that existed long before growling and shrieking??

    Most glam metal WAS heavy metal. That’s why it’s been retroactively dubbed “glam metal” (rather than “glam hard rock”) by all but the tryhardist of tryhards.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I didn’t go and name a bunch of glam bands because I figured one point of comparison would be enough, especially one that I’m pretty sure our entire readership is familiar with and can easily bring the sound to mind. You can take influence from metal bands, apply it to your sound, and still be hard rock in the same way you can take influence from Wagner and not be a classical/symphonic band. It’s a fine line between metal and hard rock when you really get down to it, but the song construction, riffing, and general attitude here screams hard rock. Also, they call themselves hard rock. I just call glam “glam”, as “glam hard rock” is unwieldy and awkward.

      • Heavy metal *is* hard rock though hard rock is not always necessarily metal.

        That’s what everyone I knew in the eighties understood. People didn’t start playing like metal wasn’t a sub-genre of hard rock until way after the advent of all the brutal sub-sub-genres they now want to pretend define metal in general.

        I think what we need to do, for the benefit of the Metalocalypse Generation, is go back and take the word “metal” right off all those albums by bands like Krokus and Quiet Riot. Just cross them right out on all remaining copies and write in “Just Hard Rock!” That’ll make this all less confusing.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I like to think I’ve got a good sense of humour… But I can’t find Steel Panther funny. Steel Panther are so far from being good as either a band or a comedy act, I seriously don’t understand how they are even still a thing.
    For a comparison those that haven’t should look at Spinal Tap, they nailed this type of humour

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    What I was getting at with subtlety was more about how Steel Panther all but screams “please find us funny, this is a joke, we’re so ridiculous!” I agree entirely that it can’t be subtle in the way you’re describing though. AxCx’s glam rock album was quite funny I thought.

    • eloli

      AxCx’s song titles are much better than their actual songs. They should’ve stuck to releasing song titles only, back in the day. :D

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Kyle From Incantation Has A Mustache needs to stay though! Morbid Florist was basically an entire album of funny titles and random noise though, but they were definitely funny titles.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    This album rocks, it’s actually one of my favorites, reminds me more or old punk, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Lita Ford etc. Even some of the more straight forward Metallica (rockish riffs). One of my favorites this year. Not sure what this guy is smoking. Doesn’t seem to know much about music, based on some of his shit reviews.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I smoke cigars about once or twice a year, and I don’t recall writing “shit reviews” because we review music, not feces. Was writing an extra “ty” there really too much work? Maybe you could tell me a third time how this is one of your favorites with the surplus of time that corner cutting gave you. I was reminded “more or” Joan Jett too, by the way; I said just that in my actually coherent block of text above.

  • Choodi

    Can someone please explain how you can do a subtle parody of a genre that was itself a giant parody in the first place?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Yep! Don’t make it so painfully obvious it’s a parody. It’s like those talent shows on TV, someone making an unintentionally bad audition is hilarious, but the people who try to make something purposefully bad are just cringeworthy. Glam was naturally dumb and sometimes funny, but SP just tries to force the jokes in such an obvious way and winds up lame.

      • Choodi

        But those unintentionally bad auditions are not parodies…

        Steel Panther works for me because they are so far over the top that there is no doubt they are taking the piss. Any less over the top and they would just be offensive.

        They also work because they are genuinely good musicians who write some of the best glam rock this side of 1990.

        Maybe they are not for everyone, but they have certainly done something no one else has been able to replicate; make glam rock relevant again.

  • ghost whistler

    When you hit 88mph you go back to the 1980’s!

    Oops too late.

  • Jukka Alanen

    How the hell am I gonna unhear those lyrics in the sample song. Please somebody help me.