Diadem - The Silver Tray

09 Dec 2021 - Pat O'

Darkwave/Goth/Blackgaze | Release date: 17 Nov 2021

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Houstons’ Diadem have released a three track EP under a dark wave of dream-gazed soundscapes and sweeping synthesised patinas. From the serene to the sinister, The Silver Tray serves up a truly unique and gothic inspired journey.

When you think of Houston Texas, some of the things that might come to mind are Space exploration and the Houston Space Centre, or it might be the humid subtropical climate that graces its thriving metropolis. What doesn’t come to mind so easily is a vision of a “gothic” Houston, dimmed under a sombre shadow, inspiring a dark and spectral blend of music that creeps from the underground, as dusk swallows up the city. Diadem are the offspring of such a manifestation. I don’t know where they gathered such inspiration, but their sound is bathed in it. The three tracks that encase The Silver Tray are a must for any goth loving, dark chasing music nerd who knows exactly what they crave. Diadem bring all that, and a little bit more.

“Ben To The Great Will” begins this three track EP with rich, airy dream gaze vibes complimented by some breezy, chiffon vocals that leave behind a calming and comforting aftertaste. As the mood shifts ever so slightly, there is an eighties “new romantics”, wave that comes rolling over the track, continuing all its allure and charm. The track never ambles for too long within any one passage of music, but the surprises and experimentation continue as another vocal delivery takes on a dark and sinister presence with its “black-metal” rasp, all the time accompanied by heavy distorted guitars and underlying soft swells. In theory, this shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s a stroke of genius! What is intriguing about Diadem’s sound is its pitch perfect mixing and blending of so many musical styles, even decades! The track sways back and forth, from “shoegaze” induced meditative states to darkened screams of Neolithic horror, like a battle between good and evil, with the powers of darkness always prevailing. Shredding riffs close the track with more demonic vocals, all cast under a gothic, luciferian cloak.

The second track, “The Devil Always Wins” sounds a lot more upbeat strangely enough, considering the title. It moves forward with its higher tempo and its fast-paced phrasing, and all adorned with more eighty’s synths and clean, high-pitched vocals. However, in music, not everything is as it seems, and another treat lies in store for us as the vocals mutate once more with their sharp and jarring delivery, that slice you open in one foul thrust. The battle between light and dark continues right through this “dark-wave” versus “new-wave” face off, all clouded in overhanging atmospherics and synthesised sorcery.

“Blissed Out” closes the gates on this unique three track EP with some Slow Crush inspired resonance. More dreamy vocals float and sway in a cool winter breeze for the most part before breaking into a chorus of dual vocals caressed by rich guitars and proggy base lines. Heavier moments in the track remind me of Tiamat’s Prey album, with its hauntingly dark, but beautifully conceived melodies and harmonies. A breakdown halfway through the track shatters the calm with a sepulchral and primeval scream, before drums gently roll and guitars glisten before one final celestial duel closes this hugely creative and unique EP.

The three tracks on The Silver Tray serve only as an entrée, as the feast is sure to follow soon I hope. The music is enigmatic and a little unhinged at times, hence the attraction. Release your inner shadow, and enjoy this wave of darkness.