The mad German diggers are back

THE DIGGERZ: Are Mad

Release year: 2022
Label: Sick Taste Records/Sunny Bastards

German The Diggerz released their debut album A Psycho’s Tales in 2015. After that: nothing. At the same time, it seems like the psychobilly scene has gone through a rough patch. Gigs have seemed to be fewer and the audiences have appeared to be dwindling, and albums of note have been something of a rarity. In what has at times seemed like grasping at straws, labels have latched on to whatever has even had a whiff of a trend about it. In the last 10-15 years, I can remember at least these trends: melodic, horror punk psychobilly; female-fronted psychobilly; ultra-retro psychobilly; Social Distortion/The Living End style slap bass punkabilly. Whenever a good band with an idea popped up, imitators seemed to follow close on the heels, and too many labels have appeared all too eager for quick cash grabs.

For a year or two already, I’ve been smelling a slow change in the wind. Something’s been happening: the fast-changing typecast trends have petered out, and finally bands who do what they want to do, who sound like they want to sound, have started appearing again. The scene might still suffer from a limp, but it’s making its way back.

And, indeed: enter The Diggerz anno 2022. They’re a different beast this time around. The debut album presented a band digging deep into the classic UK sound, with a lot of neobilly in the mix. The sound was clean, the guitars did not have too much distortion; it was all very reminiscent of Frenzy, The Sharks on their second tour of duty, and all those luminaries of the classic British sound. Now, on this four-track EP, precious little of that remains.

There’s distortion in the guitar tone. There’s a lot more punch to the sound, the music is more aggressive, and the punk edge is more obvious. A certain influence from bands like Koffin Kats and The Brains is hard to avoid in the catchy choruses. But beneath the surface, The Diggerz have retained that quintessential essence of genuine psychobilly. Far from being punk with a slap bass or hardcore with a quiff, beneath the beefier sound you can still sense the foundations of psychobilly here.

A taster of sorts for the second album, Mad In The Head, this EP offers one track from the album (Your Loving) plus three exclusive tracks. Quite clearly, the album track is the pick of the litter here with speedy slap bass and a killer chorus. The other song worth particular mention is an energetic rendition of the classic sea shanty Drunked Sailor. The Diggerz really kick some life into that old dog.

Are Mad is a welcome sign of life. I liked A Psycho’s Tales back when it came out, and I’ve kept on liking on the occasional listen. The sound may have been beefed up, but after some accustoming, at least I don’t mind the change. The Germans have kept the most important part: the quality.

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