DIAMOND REXX – Psychward

DIAMOND REXX - Psychward
  • 7.5/10
    DIAMOND REXX - Psychward - 7.5/10


Pavement Entertainment
Release date: August 28, 2020

User Review
8.5/10 (1 vote)

Diamond Rexx is back with its original lineup in Psychward after a long hiatus following a comeback attempt with two new members in 2001’s Rexx Erected, and 2002’s The Evil. The Chicago Hair Metal quartet produced a new record that references their beloved debut album in 1985, Land of the Damned, while managing to modernize its sound enough to win relevancy in the 21st century.

DIAMOND REXX – 80s Hair Metal from Ch|iTown

Chicago might not be the place you associate with Hair Metal or even Heavy Metal during the 80s. Famous for its Punk Hardcore scene that gave birth to Punk greats such as Naked Raygun and Big Black, the vibe around town was very different from LA’s Sunset Strip. Despite that, The Windy City also gave the Hair Metal scene bands such as Styx and Enuff Z’Nuff.

As a musician, it is hard to ignore your surroundings and avoid being inspired by the music around you. Diamond Rexx is no exception to the rule, and maybe what makes these rockers rather peculiar is how much of a Punk influence there is to their compositions. From the power chord dominated guitar riffs to the rough vocals of singer Nasti Habits, who sounds somewhere between Accept’s Udo Dirkschneider and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, you can notice within seconds that this is not your typical Glam band.

A comeback album to please old and new fans

While 1985’s Land of the Damned stuck closer to the Hair Metal formula of the day, Psychward dares to embrace the band’s rougher and tougher sides. The overall sound is something akin to Germany’s Accept meets The Ramones. While production is not exactly top-notch, it is certainly competent. It doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment while listening to Psychward, and much better than in Rexx Erected and probably as good or better than 2002’s heavier and Mercyful Fate-esque The Evil.

Album breakdown

The leading single of the record, “Love is Pain” is a Hard Rock anthem not unlike what you would expect from the NWOBHM greats, with just the right amount of hairspray to make it Glam, including the lyrical content. The result is an enjoyable, headbanging, and energizing song that rocks.

“Teenage Refugee” showcases the band’s Punk influence to the max, and could’ve been at home in an album by any of the Chicago Hardcore greats. Gang vocals complete the punk references, while the momentous solo reminds you firmly that this ain’t just a Punk rock record.

“Ride” is a return to form closer to Diamond Rexx’s original sound in Land of the Damned. The Crüe-esque nature of this song, enhanced by a heavier touch only this Chicago quartet could infuse, is a keeper and one of the best songs in Psychward.

No Hard Rock release would ever be complete without the advent of the mandatory Power Ballad, represented here by “Ur Everything”. It’s a solid attempt at the formula, but the band’s rough nature just isn’t a match for softer and delicate moments.

The title track “Psych Ward” is probably one of the more unique-sounding ones, marrying the LA sound with NWOBHM 80s Hard Rock to perfection. A headbanger’s dream, the song is one of the heaviest moments in the album.

Additional influences surface during the rest of the record, with numbers like “Want it All” paying homage to Manowar, “Pain” coming closer to Zakk Wylde era Ozzy Osbourne and “Under The Gun” clearly showing the band’s Motorhead influences, culminating with the band’s competent cover of “Ace of Spades” bookending the album, recorded for the second time, but this time with the original lineup.

The band’s marriage of Punk and Hair Metal sometimes leads to something loosely resembling Thrash Metal, as made evident in “Forever” and 2016’s single “Dead.”


All things considered, Psychward is an enjoyable experience that is bound to please fans of the band’s 80s releases as much as fans of the material in the early 2000s. It will probably not be enough to gain new territory and mind share within the genre, straying away from today’s Melodic Rock renaissance. It still makes for a valuable addition to the Glamsters’ catalog, though, showing a side of the band that was not yet fully exploited.


  1. The Answer
  2. Love is Pain
  3. Teenage Refugee
  4. Ride
  5. Ur Everything
  6. Psych Ward
  7. Want it All
  8. That’s Alright
  9. Pain
  10. Under the Gun
  11. Forever
  12. Dead
  13. Ace of Spades



  • Alex Reis

    Alex is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, born and raised in Curitiba, PR, Brazil, yet living in Antwerp, Belgium, since 2010. AC/DC was his first intro to Rock and Metal, but Metallica and Iron Maiden were the turning point for his love of the genre. Alex has played the guitar since he was 14, and has been an aspiring musician ever since.  Also serving as lead guitarist and vocalist for Belgian/Brazilian Hard Rock outfit SSC, Alex and co. have released a single a few years ago, but are yet to follow with a full-length  release that's been 20 years in the works. When Alex is not writing for MER or making music, he works at the Belgian tech scene, having served as CTO and other technical roles in numerous startups and organizations.

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