Diamonds are created under extreme pressure. In life, this is a saying that can be applied to many things. Even moreso, though, it applies to the struggles of being in an independent band. In Loving Memory, hailing from NY are living personifications of this ideal. While their original incarnation dabbled in post-hardcore, pop and rock mixed into one, their new material is something entirely different. When the band almost dissolved, vocalist Naveed Stone and drummer Thomas Diognardi underwent a transformation that no one saw coming. Spending late nights sampling different beats, inspired by the more meaningful side of today’s pop music and a passion that never dies… Diamonds Under Pressure was born. While their new music is much more in the pop/rock realm, mixed with Stone’s R&B style, unique vocal style, it defies industry standards and stands out much more than anything of their past material.
The album opens up with “On My Way,” which features ISSUES guitarist Sky Acord and is a Summer jam if ever there was one. In a long-standing tradition of experimenting with their sound, Stone goes from his typical, higher-range singing style to rapping and then soars into the chorus. Musically, there are a lot of more funk/hip-hop elements on this track that make it stand out from the rest. Another noteworthy observation is the way that there are electronic elements added into the chorus, which give it a more club/EDM feel with a pop vibe.
More new elements come into play on “D.U.P.” Serving as the title track, lyrically there is an overall message of not giving up and speaking out against racism. Stone, lyrically, has never been shy about speaking about his struggles as an individual of a different color but he’s one of the most motivated, driven individuals out there and he refuses to let the haters get him down. One of the most interesting parts of the album, let alone this track, is their use of choral sections such as the closing chorus to “D.U.P,” which is led by nothing more than voices and claps. It makes you feel like you’re in church, singing a beautiful hymnal and makes you want to put your hands up and just let go.
“Overwhelmed” sees their clever use of symphonic elements that, while slightly masked under the beat of the song, create a beautiful and cohesive soundscape that you just can’t ignore. If I was to pick an In Loving Memory song to be featured on a film, this would definitely be the song. There are so many elements to this track that make it feel larger than life and just like a top 40 hit, more than just a song from a couple of guys from NY. The track speaks on the idea of being overwhelmed by everything but how, ultimately, you can and will overcome that feeling. It’s an incredibly catchy and relate-able track.
Now we come to my favorite track on the album, by far, “Questions.” Naveed raps more, this time speaking very honestly on the history of the band and what led them to where they are today. This track has a very cinematic and spacey vibe to it, with clean electric guitars underneath the verses. There is an expert use of vocoder on this track, layering Stone’s vocals in the chorus and adding more depth to the way that it comes off. The thing that makes this track my favorite, though, is the pure honesty in the lyrics and beautiful vocal layering that makes it sound like there is much more than just Stone’s voice there. There is also a tongue-in-cheek line about their use of breakdowns in the past that is, funnily enough, almost followed into a breakdown. In terms of their songwriting and the flow of their melodies/lyrics… this track couldn’t be a more clear-cut example of their talents in that vein.
The album’s “oddball” has already become a fan favorite and it’s not hard to see why. While “Rinse and Repeat” is a much more 50’s sounding, jazzy track it really explodes emotionally. Most of the track is piano-driven and features more of a croon-style vocal from Stone, it does an excellent job of building into the chorus where you get an anguished almost-yelled section from Stone. This track speaks on the idea of a toxic relationship that is almost too good to let go. If you hear it, you can draw your own conclusions.
“Slave” is another track that would fit perfectly in with today’s radio hits. Part hip-hop, part symphonic and part EDM, this track is another one that really keeps the listener guessing. Vocal glitches, more distorted guitar parts and beautiful, almost angelic piano parts bring this track to an incredible climax. While there is more of a hip-hop feel in Stone’s vocals on this one, it’s honestly the beat that really stands out on this one because it hits you hard. There is a more melancholy, yet hopeful feel to this song and it lends to the idea that, when you’re in a band.. you’re a slave to the “game.” Of course, the “game” is anything but and there are plenty who will cheat to win but ILM has always risen above the need to do so, flourishing on pure talent and a need to make a difference.
Diamonds Under Pressure is a sonic personification of the ideal that we discussed earlier. While the band completely switched up their sound, and their approach to writing, they really knocked it out of the ball park. In Loving Memory is one of the best bands to come from their are and they continue to prove themselves worthy of that sentiment with each release. They really have become Diamonds Under Pressure. Please do yourselves a favor and dig into the links/videos below, fall in love with these misfits and see why so many people have done the same. Diamonds Under Pressure was independently released on September 20th and can be picked up via the links below.