Hot New Band: Diablo Blvd

Purists may insist that metal is serious business, but Diablo Blvd frontman Alex Agnew has reason to disagree, having been a hugely successful stand-up comedian in his native Belgium for well over a decade. Now, however, the half-English vocalist is poised to bring his band’s rampaging dark rock anthems to the fore.

“Being a stand-up comedian for all that time means I’m never nervous in front of large audiences,” he notes. “You can’t help what you are. I could try to be the mysterious frontman who never talks to anyone, and Trent Reznor can get away with that, but I’d feel too self-conscious… but we’re not a funny band. We’re not the Bloodhound Gang! This is serious… and it’s getting darker all the time.”/o:p

With shades of everyone from Danzig and Volbeat and Kyuss and Ghost, Diablo Blvd’s third album, Follow The Deadlights, ticks any number of boxes for fans of shadowy heaviness, but the additional result of such a diverse spread of influences is a record that bulges with dynamics and infectious melody. The band’s first two albums were only released in Belgium and Luxembourg, which means that the new one represents their first real opportunity to conquer the rest of the world.

“I guess we don’t fit into any particular scene, but you can hear that we grew up with Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses and Type O Negative and all kinds of stuff,” says Alex. “That’s what makes this what it is. It’s cool because we can tour with anyone. We can open for Behemoth or Aerosmith, and we like both kinds of music equally.”

Recent European dates with Machine Head have already raised this band’s profile and 2015 looks certain to be a busy year, with everything from headline club shows to major festival appearances in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Alex Agnew and his glowering cohorts are determined to do their bit for Belgium’s image as a credible metal nation.

“We’re the first Belgian band that’s ever been signed to Nuclear Blast,” the frontman proudly proclaims. “Belgium is not a terribly sexy country, as far as metal is concerned. I realise we’re not from the frozen wastes of Norway, evoking images of Vikings and mythology, but we have a feeling that what we do is our thing. We don’t want to join a scene – we want to create one, and everyone’s welcome!”