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Diamonds In The Rough
Posted February 25, 2015
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer


With 2013's Made, Hawk Nelson managed to successfully reinvent themselves. Guitarist Jon Steingard's transition to lead vocals after the surprising departure of founder Jason Dunn caused a musical ripple effect in the group. Known for their aggressive punk edge with the occasional cheeky lyric, Made presented a crisper, more mature version of the group, highlighted primarily by their hit single "Words."
 
Though the group has grown up and moved on from their grittier ways, this doesn't mean that they have lost sight of their mission. In fact, they're more focused now than ever before. Diamonds continues the melodic maturation they achieved with their last release, shedding the final skin of their punk days and leaning heavily toward their upbeat side.
 
The Gems:
A song like "Only You" perfectly pinpoints the marriage of old school Hawk Nelson ballads with the infusion of pop found on their newer material.
 
"Live Like You're Loved" carries the weightiest lyrics aboard this LP. Going out to every person who feels like they're in way over their heads in the constant quest for perfection, the encouraging chorus speaks truth straight into the center of the battle: "Go ahead and live like you're loved, it's okay to act like you've been set free / His love has made you more than enough, so go ahead and be who He made you to be."
 
"Count On You," lead single "Drops In The Ocean" and title track "Diamonds" all showcase Hawk's musical growth, even since their last project. They've proven to listeners once and for all that they can not only do pop music, but they can do it well. Props to the band for innovation!
 
Diamonds In The Rough:
Unfortunately, that innovation feels a tad lost at times as some of the songs begin to flow one into each other, making the overall sound at times repetitive.
 
The catchy alt rock riff on the front of "Just Getting Started" promises to deliver something on the grittier side, but falls back into the pop waters without much effort. "Sold Out" doesn't fit in with any of its counterparts, feeling almost forced onto the album. Diversity is a praiseworthy aim, but when said diversity is delivered less with confidence and more like a test, it can feel a bit confusing to the listener. The same can be said during other moments on the album, leaving you wondering which style of music the band is going to gravitate towards as time goes on.
 
Closing Thoughts:
If you're looking to hear the rowdy, raucous Hawk Nelson of days gone by, Diamonds might come as something of a surprise. While the guys are as fun and whimsical as ever, the brash edge that earned them such a loyal fan base in the punk rock world is all but gone, and left in its place is a brighter and bubblier Hawk Nelson tackling all new subjects— less heavy, but still as relevant.
 
With that said, this album proves that this new version of Hawk Nelson is still trying to find their footing sonically. Still, what Diamonds lacks in diversity, it more than makes up for in heart, and at the end of the day, that's what this band has always been about. I guarantee it won't be long before Hawk Nelson 2.0 nails exactly what they're going for.
 
Song to Download Now:
"Live Like You're Loved" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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